The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a nonprofit organization that assigns ratings for video games to determine the age-appropriateness of their contents. The rating system is voluntary, but many US retailers will only sell games that have been rated.
ESRB was created on Sep. 1, 1994. Nearly 20 years later, in Aug. 2014, 84% of parents were aware of the ESRB rating system and 69% regularly checked a game’s rating prior to purchase. Below is a description of the seven categories.
“Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.”
“Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.”
“Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.”
“Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”
ADULTS ONLY 18+
“Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.”
“Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a physical (e.g. boxed) video game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game’s rating once it has been assigned.”
ESRB, “Ratings Guide,” esrb.org, 2021
ESRB, “Frequently Asked Questions,” esrb.org (accessed Sep. 18, 2015)
ESRB, “Consumer Research,” esrb.org (accessed Sep. 18, 2015)
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