12th November 2008

ESRB Announces New Video Game Rating Summaries

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New Resource Provides Parents with More Detailed Information on Game Content Just in Time for the Holiday Shopping Season

NEW YORK – The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games, today announced the availability of “rating summaries,” a new, supplementary source of information about game content that parents can use when considering which games to purchase for their children this holiday season and beyond. The new rating summaries will be accessible when searching for rating information via the ESRB website at www.esrb.org, its rating search widget, and a new mobile website at m.esrb.org.
“Research shows that the vast majority of parents who purchase games for their kids are aware of and regularly check ESRB ratings, but parents can always use more help when making choices as to which games are right for their children,” said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB. “With our new rating summaries, which provide exclusive and unprecedented insight into the nature of the content that triggered a given rating assignment, parents will be that much more empowered in making those choices.”

The new rating summaries explain in objective terms the context and relevant content that factored into a game’s ESRB rating assignment. Effective today, the ESRB will provide rating summaries for all video games rated since July 1, 2008, along with the rating category and content descriptors, when searching for rating information on the ESRB website and via the ESRB rating search widget. Rating summaries are also accessible from a new mobile website at m.esrb.org, which allows consumers when shopping for games to search game titles on their mobile devices right at the point of purchase. Additionally, parents can receive a bi-weekly list of recently rated titles customized to their preference of game platform and rating categories, complete with rating summaries, by signing up for ParenTools, the ESRB’s new e-newsletter, at www.esrb.org/parentools.
The National Institute on Media and the Family, which has at times been critical of the ESRB ratings, joined with ESRB for the announcement of the new rating summaries.
“Video games can be entertaining for children, but parents need to be cognizant that there are some games that are neither created nor intended for children. ESRB ratings provide a guide that parents can and should use to determine whether a game is one they deem appropriate for their child,” said Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family. “The ESRB’s rating summaries go even further, shedding greater light on a game’s rating and giving parents additional detailed information to make healthier gaming decisions. The Institute advises parents to ‘watch what your kids watch,’ and the ESRB’s new rating summaries help parents make those informed choices for their children. I commend the ESRB for taking this step to serve the needs of parents.”

According to a survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in March 2008, 86 percent of parents with children who play video games are aware of the rating system and 78 percent say they regularly check the rating before buying computer and video games for their children. An April 2007 survey by the Federal Trade Commission reported that 89 percent of parents say they are involved in the purchase or rental of a video game for their child.
The ESRB rating system includes six age-based rating categories: EC (Early Childhood) for ages 3+; E (Everyone) for ages 6+; E10+ (Everyone 10 and older); T (Teen) for ages 13+; M (Mature) for ages 17+; and AO (Adults Only) which indicates that the game should only be played by adults age 18 and older. The rating category is found on the front of virtually every game sold at retail in the U.S. The rating system also includes over 30 content descriptors, found next to the rating category on the back of game packages, which describe in general terms content in the game that may be of interest or concern to parents or may have triggered a rating category, including violence, sexual content, language, use or depiction of controlled substances, and gambling.

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