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ESRB To Automate Game Rating 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the rated-l-for-lazy dept.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board, which has struggled to keep up with the flood of games produced for app stores and other online markets, is now taking steps to automate the rating process. "Starting on Monday the ratings board plans to begin introducing computers to the job of deciding whether a game is appropriate for Everyone, for Teens or for Mature gamers (meaning older than 16). To do this the organization has written a program designed to replicate the ingrained cultural norms and predilections of the everyday American consumer, at least when it comes to what is appropriate for children and what isn’t. ... the main evaluation of hundreds of games each year will be based not on direct human judgment but instead on a detailed digital questionnaire meant to gauge every subtle nuance of violence, sexuality, profanity, drug use, gambling and bodily function that could possibly offend anyone. The questionnaire, to be filled out by a game’s makers (with penalties for nondisclosure), is like a psychological inquest into the depths of all the things our culture considers potentially unwholesome."
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ESRB To Automate Game Rating

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  • by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:36AM (#35865280) Homepage Journal

    six days in Falujah would get T(13+) for moderate-to-high amounts of violence, no sexual themes, limited or no use of profanity, no drug use, no gambling and no bodily functions.

    • I'm pretty sure soldiers do all of those things you just mentioned.

      • by Vaphell (1489021)

        I'm pretty sure people do all of those things you just mentioned.

        ftfy

        • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @04:49AM (#35865814)

          speak for yourself, i dont use moderate to high amounts of violence in my daily life (or drugs/gambling for that matter)

          • by GNious (953874)

            no longer practicing kick-boxing, but still ingesting caffeine and I sometimes ride a bike in Brussels .. 2 out of 3 aint bad :)

        • Slashdotters have limited or no ineteraction with girlfriends, but heavy use of evil lairs.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      six days in Falujah would get T(13+) for moderate-to-high amounts of violence, no sexual themes, limited or no use of profanity, no drug use, no gambling and no bodily functions.

      Yeah, but at this point I'm expecting the new Duke Nukem game to be released before we see Six Days in Fallujah, which is sad because it is the one game I'm really looking forward to.

    • by mangu (126918)

      Let's see my daily life:

      moderate-to-high amounts of violence

      I watch the news. Check.

      sexual themes

      Fuck? YEAH!

      use of profanity

      Fuck, YEAH!

      drug use

      Do coffee and beer count?

      gambling

      I cross the street, drive a car... does that count?

      bodily functions

      Who doesn't?

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        IIRC Alcohol gets its own category
      • moderate-to-high amounts of violence

        I watch the news. Check.

        FCC-regulated TV news does exercise discretion as to whether to show the gorier shots.

        sexual themes

        Fuck? YEAH!

        use of profanity

        Fuck, YEAH!

        Now you've got that song from Team America: World Police running through my head.

        gambling

        I cross the street, drive a car... does that count?

        Western culture generally doesn't consider pure risk [investopedia.com] to be forbidden gambling. As I understand it, forbidden gambling is any sort of risk that A. isn't a pure risk and B. isn't tied to a business concern's profit.

        drug use

        Do coffee and beer count?

        Maybe and yes. Irresponsible drug use counts, as does use of age-restricted drugs.

        bodily functions

        Who doesn't?

        Not flamboyantly in front of other people in the w

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Nethack [nethack.org] would probably get NC17 (or whatever their equivalent is) because it has:

      1) Drugs (Magic mushrooms and potions that make you hallucinate),
      2) Incubi and Succubi that have (implied) sex with you,
      3) Violence against police* (the "keystone cops" that show up if you directly steal from a shop),
      4) Cannibalism,
      5) Sex changes, and
      6) Devil worship and human sacrifice--by the player!**

      Yet the whole thing is done with ascii character "graphics", and is purely tongue-in-cheek, and is about as dangerous for the

  • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:39AM (#35865298) Journal

    I'm fed up with decisions being made by questionnaires and computers. I think we should stop tolerating analyses of health, fitness, credit, intelligence, etc based on simplistic tests and numbers. The expert system is one of the most horrible simplifications of human judgement ever to grace the confused world of AI, and is almost without exception implemented with some bias to fulfil a pre-determined aim and reinforce some prejudice.

    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @03:14AM (#35865428) Homepage

      But -any- rating-system that in the end, delivers a recommendation for age-group, is going to have to choose some prejudice.

      You have to compare different sorts of content and weigh them against eachother.

      How does *this* sort of violence stack up against *this* sort of sex ?

      There is no single correct answer to that, indeed any extreme is thinkable from "Any amount of sex is okay, but no violence" to the opposite extreme of "any amount of violence is okay, but no sex"

      It doesn't really matter if the score is by computer+questionaire or by human judgement or by any other method. There simple *isn't* one single correct answer.

      The method of judging, isn't the problem. The fundamental task, is.

      I tend to ignore the age-recommendations completely - instead if I'm in doubt about a certain game being apropriate or not for my kids, I will play it myself for a while. (usually you don't have to play it for -that- long to get a fair guesstimate)

      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        But that is AFTER you bought it, isn't it. How are you going to return it after you determined that it's unsuitable?

        • if it suitably unsuitable, that makes it probably more enjoyable for the GP himself

          Assuming he reads his reviews and doesnt buy ultimate stinker games

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Why should you have a right to return it if it doesn't fit your personal moral values for the intended user?

          Vote with your wallet. Take your next purchase elsewhere.
          And read reviews before you buy.

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        There is no single correct answer to that, indeed any extreme is thinkable from "Any amount of sex is okay, but no violence" to the opposite extreme of "any amount of violence is okay, but no sex"

        You missed "No amount of sex or violence is okay" and "Any amount of sex and violence is okay". There are definitely those out there with biases in those directions...

      • by Tom (822)

        "Any amount of sex is okay, but no violence"

        Totally with you on that one, mate.

        Oh, you were still talking about computer games? Dang.

    • by mjwx (966435)
      This game contains 14.3 units of boobs, far too high for an M rating.
    • by bjourne (1034822)
      Not at all! Automated decision making processes is an important acknowledgement that human judgement is subjective at best. The more we learn about the human psyche, the less rational it seem. There are so many ingrained biases that we are endowed with, such as how we judge persons by their appearances, how personal anecdotes trumph statistics that the only way to get fair and logical decisions is to automate the process. One can argue whether games need an extremely detailed rating system to protect the ki
      • And who do you think builds the software which performs the "automated decision making process"?

        Centralisation leads to corruption. All automation does is centralise the decision-making process so the (often intentional) bias of one small, elite group becomes the whole system's prejudice.

        It's not that I don't trust computers - any more or less than I "trust" any tool or weapon. It's that I don't trust humans.

        • I'd still tend to go with the machines because in the end they're auditable, if you leave it to human judgement then it's easy for the humans involved to waffle on about something irrelevant and make up justifications when challenged .

          but if it's in code then it's effectively in writing and you can check it and see "hey, look, it's been programmed to outright [reject]/[give AO rating to] anything with even a trace of homosexuality no matter how wholesome free of sex and violence "

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            I agree with this. If you've ever watched This film is not yet rated [imdb.com], you can see just how bad ratings boards with no oversight can be. Basically, if you are a big enough studio, They will help you get an NC-17 rating down to an R, but if you're just a small guy, they will just give you NC-17, without saying what you need to cut to get the rating changed, or why the rating was even given. I could really see this being an important step. Make the questionaire open for everyone to see. And let consumers s
    • by mjwx (966435)
      Now the serious reply,

      All this will do is allow publishers to game the system.

      Activision Exec: We need to make our ultraviolent game available to kids.
      Activision Project Manager: Easy, we've already found enough flaws in the automated system to allow Medal of Duty 117 to pass under the G category.
      Activision Exec: But isn't that game full of violence and gore.
      Activision PM: Yes, but we've diversified the gore just enough that no single criteria breaches the G category.
      Activision Exec: Excellent, Lo
      • If anyone is interested in how that conversation ended.

        Activision exec: My lord Kotik, the 117th iteration of Medal of Duty is ready for release.
        Bobby Kotik: Has there been any changes to the gameplay?
        Activision exec: Uh, my lord Kotic
        Bobby Kotik: /Angry glance.
        Activision exec: One of the junior developers thought of some improvements.
        Bobby Kotik: I SAID NO CHANGES.
        Bobby Kotik: /presses button on chair, spins around to reveal a giant screen. The image of a young programmer appears on the screen.
        Ju
        • Bobby Kotik: Has there been any changes to the gameplay?

          It's possible to tone down the violence by changing the setting while leaving the gameplay unchanged. One extreme is the tack taken by early first-person shooters, such as Battlezone and Faceball 2000, which didn't have any blood or even humanoid forms. A slightly less extreme example is the localization of Contra into Probotector for Germany and neighbors, where most characters were turned into android robots.

      • by 91degrees (207121)
        They have no interest in making violent games available to kids. If they want to make a game available to kids, they'll make a non violent game! They design the game to the rating, not make a game and then see what the rating is. Hell, if you saw a game and it said suitable for children, wouldn't you think perhaps it might be a little tame?

        Games are targeted at a specific age group. There's really very little interest in selling to people outside that age group. Scandals are too much hassle.
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Ever see how much boy bands and other tweener stuff makes? they'll skirt to the very edge because tweeners get teh monies! just add just enough hints of sex to make the tweener boys go "Yeah!" while throwing some shirtless twilight pretty boy to get the tweener girls moist and Cha Ching baby!

          hell it has ALWAYS been this way! remember the Farrah swimsuit poster in the 70s? or Garbage pail kids in the 80s? You push it to the very edge because that makes teh monies and it is ALL about the greenbacks!

        • by mjwx (966435)

          They have no interest in making violent games available to kids. If they want to make a game available to kids, they'll make a non violent game! They design the game to the rating, not make a game and then see what the rating is. Hell, if you saw a game and it said suitable for children, wouldn't you think perhaps it might be a little tame?

          You're wrong. They, being the publishers are interested in getting games into as many hands as possible. This means getting the game the lowest rating possible whilst

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            I've worked in the industry for 10 years. We're just not that cynical.

            Adult gamers like violence. If a game is rated as suitable for teens then you would expect it to be pretty tame. Call of Duty sounds liek a marketing screw-up where marketing wanted to target it at the Teen age group and the developers were developing for an adult age group. Scandals are great free publicity

            They're unpredictable. It might work out well. It could backfire, especially if it turns out that you actively tried to cr
            • by mjwx (966435)

              I've worked in the industry for 10 years. We're just not that cynical.

              Adult gamers like violence. If a game is rated as suitable for teens then you would expect it to be pretty tame. Call of Duty sounds liek a marketing screw-up where marketing wanted to target it at the Teen age group and the developers were developing for an adult age group. Scandals are great free publicity

              They're unpredictable. It might work out well. It could backfire, especially if it turns out that you actively tried to create the scandal. They're expensive to manage and cause share prices to go a little crazy. This does not please investors.

              I'm cynical of publishers, not developers. Dev's always start out with good intentions but publishers hold the purse strings. So who ends up making the decision.

              As the AC pointed out,

              Adult gamers don't mind violence. Teenage gamers LOVE violence.

              I'm not going all "OMG Protects the children" on you. Quite the contrary, the fascination with violence is normal and 99.999999999% of teenage boys grow out of it by the age of 18 but it's true. Unscrupulous publishers do target violent games at the male, 13 and upwards demographic.

              I'm simply saying, automating a ratings

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Why?

      I mean, look, I share your feelings -- I truly do. I think the fact that our lives can be boiled down to a set of various numbers is pretty disgusting in a lot of ways.

      But the reason we do this is because, culturally, we feel we need to make these decisions and we have devised specific criteria for them. We feel there is value to a number that denotes how good we are with credit, how much of a risk we are to insurers, and other such. If that is the case, then I would prefer it be done with comput

      • If that is the case, then I would prefer it be done with computers and done fairly and uniformly.

        The first thing you do with any automated process is learn how to game the system. It's much easier to game a system which relies on simplistic computerised parameters than the thorough review of well-trained humans.

        Just as with DRM, or any technical solution to a social problem, only the honest user loses out.

        • Bank loans and car insurance are already fairly heavily automated.

          wasn't there an article a while back where it was pointed out you get better rates if you use certain browsers when applying for the loan(it only cared out correlations and apparently used that as a datapoint of some kind).

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Having spent many years on the "Oh gods what will the ESRB think" side of things, it will be nice to have some Actual criteria for judgement laid out. Right now, you have absolutely no idea if a piece of content is going to hit the rating that you think it will. Is X too gross? Is Y unacceptable to middle america? Even genuinely important things like having a single person die in a sad and impactful way will effect your rating, because the more you grip the reviewer, the more likely it is to be adult ra

          • by Elbereth (58257)

            I don't understand why you're so worried about the rating, anyway, unless you're targeting children as a demographic. If you're targeting children, then perhaps your product is under a great deal of pressure to be "safe", but that's a choice you made, isn't it? Nobody is forcing you to go after that demographic.

            Personally, I generally favor violent games (though I also like some harmless simulations, like SimCity), and I find it a little frustrating that the game companies keep making kid-safe games that

  • by Phoenix0 (1242588) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:46AM (#35865322)
    This is shifting the work to the game developers, whose staff has to fill out the extremely long questionnaires. Which might make one wonder, what's the point of the rating board in the first place?
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:55AM (#35865356) Journal
      The developers already do most of the work. They develop games to fit the rating. They don't produce a game and then wonder what the rating's going to be.

      And they had to fill in the questionnaire anyway. The ESRB doesn't play the game through to the end. They rely on honesty from the developers. The developers will be honest because getting a too low a rating will typically deter serious adult gamers from certain types of games.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @03:19AM (#35865446)

      They already had to do this for years. I've done the ESRB paperwork for games. Most ESRB submissions are put in with an extremely long form filled out, disclosing which red flags you hit. Then the developer has to put together a gameplay/cutscene video with an example of every single thing in the game that may change the rating, plus everything in the form. You have to list how many instances (and the circumstances) of things like tobacco use are in game. You know what this does? Makes is so the ESRB doesn't have to watch the video and the developer doesn't have to make it. Which will make a lot of low-paid employees very happy. Those videos were a pain to make. Oh, and the old system had the same penalties for non-disclosure this one does.

      In the end, nothing really changed.

    • The point of the ratings board is so the video games industry can self-police and doesn't require United States Government regulation. Its a VERY GOOD thing. The ERSB sucks balls and doesn't know anything about games (there's like, what, 10 people working there or something that do ALL the tests?), and so all the more reason why developers should be the ones to label their own games. Then, if a developer sells a game that has more than they advertise, there should be legal ramifications (and there are). And
  • Rediculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @02:50AM (#35865338) Journal

    The board says that publishersâ(TM) answers to the digital questionnaire will determine a gameâ(TM)s rating and that a human wonâ(TM)t review it until after the game is out the door.

    As stated in a draft of the boardâ(TM)s news release, âoeAll games rated via this new process will be tested by E.S.R.B. staff shortly after they are made publicly available to verify that disclosure was complete and accurate.â

    Their computer spits out a rating based on a questionaire and nobody double checks until after the public launch?
    The ESRB is turning itself into a rubber stamp organization.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ESRB is already a rubber stamp organisation. They have always relied upon honestly from the developer (or publisher) as to the content of the game. We make games to fit a rating; I have been on projects where we have removed story elements and reduce particle effects in game to ensure that we get the rating that will make the game available to largest audience.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      They already are, and they can't not be.

      Do you really think ESBR staff played all the way through Dragon Age as every character type, doing every quest, and choosing every option?

      There's no way they can check everything anyway, a developer can stick in an easter egg that you will never figure about by just playing the game that shows some content you don't otherwise see. So why should they pretend to?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point of the ESRB is to keep Congress from legislating that games must be rated. They are an industry group, not a government organization. They will figure out the cheapest, fastest way to make sure Congress doesn't get involved with game ratings. That is the only purpose of the ESRB. If you think they were created to do something silly like protect children, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you...

  • the Questionnaire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mustPushCart (1871520) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @03:01AM (#35865384)

    Why dont we just put the answers to the questionnaire online and then any parent who cares enough to read them will know exactly what they are buying. That way no one will be judging at what age you can play a game and the ... unpleasantness of games is no longer reduced to a number. Parents who are sensitive to topics like drug abuse or gun control or sex can read the questionnaire and decide for themselves on a per topic basis.

    • by Jbcarpen (883850)
      But parents can barely be bothered to check the ratings on games as it is. What makes you think they'll be any more likely to read the questionnaire?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mustPushCart (1871520)

        The idea is to wash liability off the ESRB and everyone and let parents decide exactly what they want their kids to play. If they cant be bothered to read it then they have no right to complain. As it stands right now the parents are saying "this 13+ rated game has too much violence" and the other 'mature gamers group is saying "you cant decide at what age we should play these games!".

        There might soon be a time when parents will set up a steam account for their kids and be shown a checklist of games they ar

        • by gknoy (899301)

          That would be awesome, even as a way to filter games people buy for themselves. However, as a parent, it's especially important, as it lets me make sure that my kids play games which I feel are wholesome. ... which the more I think about it, seems to be "none of them". ;) I kid, I kid. Hardly any of the games I consider formative and awesome are ones I'd want my kid playing for Quite Some Time, though (Fallout, Deus Ex, Call of Duty, etc). In some ways, I think the simplicity and enforced abstraction of th

    • That won't work for all possible games though. Consider a beer drinking game. Is that game going to be rated Everyone, Teens or Mature (16+) ? The first two are out, and the third one depends on the legal drinking age, which probably rules out most of the USA.

      Mmm. I just thought of something, I'll be right back!

      • by Plekto (1018050)

        The silliest things also red-flag some games. For instance, if you dare mention homosexuality in any way or form, even if it is part of a normal storyline or background character, it's automatically kicked into the mature level by the Puritan Squad. Another one is to mention or deal with sex in technical terms or just simply discuss it in a normal and realistic manner. This puts many RPG type games into the M category because the developers are caught between the idiots at the ESRB and similar groups and

        • I think what this will end up doing is making developers revert to either their own rating system or not rating their games at all.

          Dropping ESRB will have three consequences:

          • Video games won't be sold at retail. Major video game retailers appear to require ESRB ratings.
          • Video games will be exclusive to PC or smartphone platforms. All three makers of game consoles and dedicated handheld game systems require ESRB ratings for professionally produced video games, apart from the "Xbox Live Indie Games" ghetto.
          • Video games in genres not traditionally associated with PCs and smartphones will just not get made anymore.
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            I think what this will end up doing is making developers revert to either their own rating system or not rating their games at all.

            You missed the most important point. The whole reason why the ESRB was created - to avoid government from doing it!

            It's one of those necessary evils that seems to keep the legislators at bay, other than trying (and failing) to get actual enforcement of the ratings.

            Yes, scrap the ESRB and you'll start finding calls from parents on the evils of games and trying to get video games

            • by Plekto (1018050)

              I completely understand, but if the ESRB starts to act like the RIAA and similar agencies and start to dictate terms to the programmers (artists as it were) instead of just giving ratings, lt'll surely be dumped for something else that the industry creates. Or they'll just release it without a rating. If it's a war between a major supplier like EA games or Sony versus Gamestop, well, you know who's going to flinch first.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      Not a bad idea, but I would do both the rating and make the questionnaire available. I like seeing the little rating icon in the corner of the box. Just like movies, you can quickly see what type of contents it contains and then decide whether or not it's appropriate; very practical when you just want to buy a random game, the questionnaire comes in when you kid tells you exactly what he wants so you can do your research beforehand.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Why dont we just put the answers to the questionnaire online and then any parent who cares enough to read them will know exactly what they are buying. That way no one will be judging at what age you can play a game and the ... unpleasantness of games is no longer reduced to a number. Parents who are sensitive to topics like drug abuse or gun control or sex can read the questionnaire and decide for themselves on a per topic basis.

      What makes you think that parents want this, instead of the right to sue a games manufacturer or go to a news station and get their fifteen minutes of fame?

      There are already plenty of reviews parents can read before buying games for their children. And even videos for those who can't read.

      • by mangu (126918)

        There are already plenty of reviews parents can read before buying games for their children. And even videos for those who can't read.

        People who can't read shouldn't have children.

        Mentally, illiterate people are at the pre-school level, equivalent to about 5 years old. Sex at that age is harmful, ask the ESRB.

    • by Tom (822)

      because "more information" is not always a good thing. There have been numerous studies showing that something like 5 key pieces of information is optimal, additional information beyond that does not improve decision-making, counter-intuitive as that may be.

      I wouldn't mind the info being available, but you do need a layer of summary information.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    But it will still cost 2,000 dollars to have a game rated.

    It's understandale right now, since they have to play the whole... No wait, they just watch a video of the game. But s omeone has to make the video... oh, yeah... The publisher does that. Well, buying retail copies for records, and future checks of... No, they demand three retail copies after the rating is completed. Well, they are located on Madison Avenue.

    There's no follow up to that one. They are a non-profit on Madison Avenue that charge you 2
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm really getting annoyed that we are importing American culture, their values and norms.

    It's not that they are conflicting with my culture there is already a lot of overlap, but there is a difference in values and norms. And it annoys me that problems are being made of things that are no problem or less of a problem in my culture and vice versa.

    Cultures are meant to be different let's respect that and keep it so.

  • by mentil (1748130) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @03:28AM (#35865506)

    Game developers/publishers already submit a long questionnaire and a video detailing every instance of everything that might affect the rating. They're already on their honor to do this honestly. All this move involves is removing the human element, which was intended to be objective anyways, and replace it with automated computer analysis. They honestly probably already have an algorithm to determine how many swears gives a Teen rating or Profanity label; counting the exact number can be done by voice recognition, if it's not already part of the questionnaire.

  • by whois (27479) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @04:00AM (#35865640) Homepage

    Way to show you just don't care.. "hey, fill out this survey so a computer can determine how to rate your game. No, we aren't going to play it."

    From the wikipedia article:

    "To obtain a rating for a game, a publisher sends the ESRB videotaped footage of the most graphic and extreme content found in the game. The publisher also fills out a questionnaire describing the game's content and pays a fee based on the game's development cost:[5]

            $800 fee for development costs under USD $250k
            $4,000 fee for development costs over $250k"

    So, the game developer is going to do all the work and pay you to certify their game and you aren't doing anything but running a website and pocketing money? You're trading on the name you've built as a "reliable standard" and you're going to be gone as soon as Sony/Microsoft/Apple/any other app store marketplace, realizes they can take your piece of the pie and do this same thing and take money for it.

    I could understand if not enough games were being submitted and you were contemplating going out of business because nobody used you anymore, but you're claiming the exact opposite. Too many people are giving you money wanting you to rate games so you're stepping out of the game rating business?

    I don't have any kids and have never cared what rating a game received, but I consider this move to be counterproductive to the people who are paying you. The first slip-up isn't going to be a publishers ass it's going to be the ESRB when people ask "who's minding the store?" and the answer is nobody.

    • I'm pretty sure that that is exactly why they are tolerated(being a requirement for wally-world release is good too; but they had to get that way).

      The ESRB is a creature of the publishers' trade association, not the independent product of free-floating moralists. They exist as a(comparatively) low cost combination Objective Entity/shield for the publishers. "Did little timmy see a tit? Well, that product was rated M(17+), by the ESRB, don't talk to us."

      Clearly, something with the overhead of the ESRB
    • Way to show you just don't care.. "hey, fill out this survey so a computer can determine how to rate your game. No, we aren't going to play it."

      Erm, they already don't play the games. Instead, they have the same list of questions that have to be filled in by the developers, on which they base their judgement. Developers also supply videos of gameplay, to clarify some of the answers/explanations.

      I really don't see too much wrong with this: I think it makes it much clearer for developers how to target th
  • . . . we will have stuff that pleases no one . . .

    "Bland New World"

  • My 3rd old commits more violence in the 1hr after he wakes up and the 1hr before bed to his own family than you'll ever find in a game like "Call of Duty." The idea that you're going to protect a child from something that they are literally doing from birth is asinine. How would the ESRB rate the average schoolyard playground?
    • My 3rd old commits more violence in the 1hr after he wakes up and the 1hr before bed to his own family than you'll ever find in a game like "Call of Duty."

      How? In my experience, the violence of a single-digit-year-old is nonlethal,* unlike the violence in Call of Duty games.

      * Apart from reports of accidents involving unsafely stored firearms.

  • I am wondering if the criteria will be published. Could we possibly see a game developed specifically with the intention of hitting every button possible?
  • Is being rated by the ESRB mandatory? Can they rate your game without your consent??
    • No, its voluntary, and they cannot review your game without your consent (or they could, but it would't do anything). But nobody is going to publish / stock a game that doesn't have an ESRB rating. Hell, if you get an A rating then they won't stock your game. So if you don't apply for a rating, everybody assumes you're shady, and you're either dealing with an A-rated game, or you're a tiny publisher that isn't worth the time.
  • Will it be like some auto essay gradeing systems where you can game it to pass? Also auto Software QA and Testing systems can pass a APP that fails but not to the point of tripping the QA system.

  • So will there be a category for promiscuity? Adultery? Bearing false witness (cruelly lying)? Inter-species love? Homosexual love? I bet you that only the last one will be asked about, but on any way of looking at the issue (weather biblical fundamentalist or humanistic or whatever) that sort of focus makes no sense. Should interest groups now call in and request certain lines which play to their issues? Can someone force them to ask about abortion on the questionnaire, for example? Or about cancer, which i

  • I could make a game containing flowers and ladybugs and spangly stars that would mess a 5 year old's mind up and give them nightmares. Conversely I could have a game which has themes of sexuality and violence that an early teen would have no trouble with.

    How does a questionnaire and automated system deal with the tone and nuance of a game through a bunch of questions? Maybe it might work as a prescreening system but there still has to be some measure of human review. If necessary charge games developers t


  • I wonder if this also covers unintentional content that gets released to the public through less than obvious means? (bugs, hacks/cracks)

    I mean, when the hot coffee mod was dropped, independent of the developer or publishers control, didn't that send the ESRB into a tizzy?
    • This wouldn't change anything as to the case you described. In the case of Hot Coffee, Rockstar said "this is what is in our game" and the ESRB said "okay, here is your rating" and then later people found out how to enable the hidden minigame, and the ESRB was like "hey, this stuff is in your game, and you didn't tell us." but rockstar was like "well, you can't access it unless you modify the game, its locked out". I think Rockstar was actually fine in this case, its not their fault, but once the cat got ou
  • Anyone else think this sounds kind of cool from a gamer's perspective?
    I'd like a game with high violence, low sexual themes, medium amounts of profanity, and some gambling on the side, please.

    Assuming there's an accessible database.

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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