The ESRB Struggles to Describe Scribblenauts


The ESRB can tell you that Scribblenauts is adequate for everyone over the age of 10, but they seem to be having a hard time describing 5th Cell’s innovative puzzler without sounding completely ridiculous.

Considering Scribblenauts is a game that’s based so much around language, it’s ironic that words often seem to fail us when it comes time to describe 5th Cell’s puzzler, which lets players conjure and use tens of thousands of objects and things simply by typing in the words for them.

That’s what happened to the ESRB. They don’t have any problem with the nature of the game (there aren’t any vulgar words or terms in its huge database), having given it a kid-friendly Everyone 10+ rating, but they do seem to have a problem describing the game’s “cartoon violence” and “comic mischief” without sounding totally absurd.

“If multiple words are entered in a sequence, different whimsical scenarios can be triggered: a bicycle can be used to jump over a baby; a bulldozer can clear away a shark; and cabbage can be fed to dinosaurs,” the ESRB’s rating summary reads. “Players can elect to summon ‘cartoony’ versions of bats, bombs, guns, and flamethrowers. These types of items can be used to destroy objects or even other summoned items (e.g., a club can be used to hit an animal; steak can be attached to a baby to attract lions; rockets can be lobbed at a man).”

Steak can be attached to a baby to attract lions? Rockets can be lobbed at a man? Usually the ESRB’s sterile way of describing questionable content in a game is worth a chuckle, but this is just ridiculous. Here’s the board’s final warning on the game: “If players wish to, they may type in the word vomit, which causes a beige-colored lump to appear on the screen.”

Watch out for those beige-colored lumps, kids. If you’re under the age of 10, you shouldn’t be playing with them. Or attaching steaks to babies to attract lions either.

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