The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) monitors and regulates all video and computer game content. It may surprise you to know that video games embraced an age rating system before television did, and that they did so without congressional mandate. In 1994 the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) was created.
Labels on all games will appear on both the front and the back of the game. Make sure to consult both sides to learn about every reason a game was rated as it was.
Knowing the rating of the shows, movies, and games your children are playing is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. Spend time watching TV, going to movies, or even playing video games with your children. This will give you an opportunity to discuss the things your children are watching with them.
This involvement is the most important aspect of parenting, and ratings are just a means to help you with it.
Software ratings range from EC for early childhood games, to AO for adult only games. More importantly for parents, the ratings will tell you why the game is suggested for the age range that it is. Whether its violence, dialogue, adult themes, or suggestive language, the box says what the game entails, which allows you to make a better decision on whether it is appropriate for your child.
The front of the game will tell you what the game has been rated I.E. Everyone, Teen, Mature, etc.
While the back of the game will list what aspects of the game caused it to be rated as it was I.E. strong language, drug use, intense violence, strong sexual themes, etc.
The following list will detail all the ratings which are currently in place:
1. Early Childhood (EC) -
These games are good for children three and up
and have no themes parents would find offensive.
2. Everyone (E) -
These are great games for families and even adults.
This content is generally suitable for ages 6 and older.
They may contain some fantasy, cartoon, mild violence or even very infrequent mild language, but most children over the age of six are equipped to handle any theme.
3. Everyone 10+ (E10+) -
These games may exhibit mild sexually suggestive themes and slightly more frequent mild language, more cartoon, mild fantasy or mild violence.
They have content that may be suitable for children ages ten years old or older.
4. Teen (T) -
These games are rated for children thirteen years of age or older.
Often times these games have simulated gambling, more realistic violence and gore, sexual content, and infrequent use of strong language.
5. Mature (M) -
Like R-rated movies these are for people seventeen and older.
They contain strong language and intense violence for prolonged periods, blood, gore, and/or sexual content.
6. Adults Only (AO) -
These games are for people eighteen years of age and older.
They often contain prolonged intense violence, nudity or graphic sexual content and should only be played by adults.
7. Rating Pending (RP) -
This only applies to games that have not yet been released on the market.
These games have been submitted to the ESRB but have not yet been officially rated. This symbol may appear in advertising when a game is waiting the final ESRB rating prior to the game's release.
Remember to check the ESRB rating on the back of the game too, as the list of subject matter is extensive and growing all the time. The ESRB Content Descriptors on the back of the video game covers a wide range of topics from Alcohol Reference, Real Gambling, Crude Humor and more.
Between both sides of the cover, you should feel quite confident in what sort of material you’ll be exposing your child to. Happy gaming.