ESRB Announces "Rating Summaries"
In a move that's guaranteed to provide more ammunition for the anti-game activists, the ESRB has decided to get more descriptive with its ratings.
According to Joystiq, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board has added "rating summaries" to its official site, which means they're leaning more towards the BBFC rating process. This could easily lead to descriptions that include eye-opening terms and phrases that are open to interpretation, but then again, it's just a matter of being more accurate. Basically, if there's bad language, sexual situations or graphic violence, these will be explained in some detail, and the ESRB will even include a list of the bad words with asterisks. You know, like "sh**" and "fu**." This new style only applies to any games rated after July 1, 2008, but now that it's permanent, all rated titles will feature some added descriptive summaries to further assist consumers. These days, with games spreading their wings and adopting more and more traits of movies, it might make sense to include such details, especially for the clueless parents. But on the other hand, the haters are going to take phrases like "implied child rape" and run with it.
The only thing we're not sure of is whether or not these new summaries will find their way onto game boxes. For now, it seems as if they're only on the PDF document issued by the ESRB, so nothing may change on the boxes; it might just be the rating and content listing, as always. No description, or anything. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
11/12/2008 Ben Dutka