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ESRB Celebrates 20 Years Of Making The Industry Better

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) turns 20 today.

The freshly formed video game board issued its first ratings certificates on September 16, 1994. The organization formed with five major ratings categories: EC (Early Childhood), K-A (Kids to Adults), T (Teen), M (Mature), and AO (Adults Only). These ratings have changed slightly over the years but the goal has always been the same.

Of all the games rated by the ESRB in the past two decades, 94 percent have received a T rating or lower, and 70 percent were rated E. All told, the ESRB has rated games submitted by more than 9,500 companies for more than 40 different platforms. But even better, awareness of these ratings "remains consistently high," as 85 percent of US parents say they know all about the ESRB. Former US Senator Joseph Liberman, who headed up the hearings concerning violent games back in the '90s, had this to say:

"Twenty years ago, I listened as the video game industry said they could put a system in place that parents would trust, retailers would use, and game developers would adhere to. I'm proud that today the ESRB ratings are so widely accepted and reaffirm the belief that industry self-regulation is not only possible, but can be highly effective."

Yeah, we all hated Lieberman back in the day, but he was right. We did need a ratings system and now we've got a great one. And the board doesn't squelch creativity; in fact, it assists it: Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price added that the ESRB has been "essential" in protecting the freedom of developers:

"A lot of people don't realize it, but games have been under threat of governmental regulation for years. However, thanks in large part to the transparent, voluntary ESRB ratings system, we as an industry have been able to successfully protect our constitutional rights. The bottom line for me is that without the ESRB's rating system, the industry would not be where it is today."

All very true. Happy Birthday, ESRB!

Tags: esrb, esrb anniversary, video game ratings

9/16/2014 11:44:31 AM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (7 posts)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 12:18:50 PM

That's all nice but but aren't these ratings in the US not mandatory for the purchase? Here in the UK with have the PEGI classification system and if you look under aged you will be asked for ID, if you cannot produce valid ID stating you're over the age of consent you cannot buy the product - Which I think is very understandable.

I think the notion of violence has increased with the power of the graphics. I played God of War III for the first time the other day (cracking game by the way) and some of the death sequences were just so grotesque. You used to just see splashes of vibrant red to represent blood but now we see guts and all sorts of limbs... If I were a parent, I'd certainly not want my children seeing such content.

But what is more concerning is that now we have our games with online features where they can interact with others. I think we have all experienced a moment online where we have a child mouthing off swear words down the mic. It's not the content that offends me but the notion that this child is playing a game when they're clearly underage and communicating with people they ought not to really. I think online gaming should be restricted to 16+ at the very least as I don't believe it is a safe environment for a child to be involved with.

In all honesty I don't see the point of these ratings if they aren't enforced properly. I am not saying you have to be as intense as Australia and ban every game with a sense of violence but the content of these games are very inappropriate for children with the general target audience these days being the you adult I think America needs to consider tougher laws on this.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 1:17:55 PM

They are mandatory in the US. Some small stores don't follow the rules and most parents walk in and buy M rated games for their kids anyway but if alone they will be IDed.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 1:04:13 PM

Happy birthday ESRB! >.<

I remember the K-A rating and then suddenly a few years later this new E rating and no more K-A. That totally confused me. And then the E 10+ rating came into being.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 1:19:56 PM

Nice work ESRB keep it up. The truth of fact is that the video game industry is a model of how to properly regulate an industry that straddles age groups.

We just need more informational campaigns for parents that can legally circumvent these useful regulations.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 5:46:15 PM

Destiny is T for teen.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 6:17:44 PM

well this is good i think the politians and regulators can keep there hands out of games as these guys keep them at bay.

happy gaming

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 6:39:12 PM

Tell that to Joe 'Howling Mad' Lieberman.

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