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ESRB Supplements Rating System With Summaries 53

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) announced today that in addition to their standard ratings for video games, they'll begin including summaries of the games, highlighting the parts which earned the rating. As Giant Bomb points out, some are quite entertaining to read. The new policy drew praise from Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), both of whom have spoken out against "inappropriate" game content in the past. The summaries are viewable at the ESRB's website; thus far, they've only done them for games rated since July 1st.
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ESRB Supplements Rating System With Summaries

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  • Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dschmit1 ( 1353767 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @09:47PM (#25741821) Journal
    This will be interesting. I can see what they are trying to do, but its just going to entice some children into actually wanting the games based on the specific graphic nature that is depicted in the summaries. Interesting.
  • by Hexedian ( 626557 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @10:35PM (#25742141) Homepage

    Parents (and people in general) already seem to have trouble keeping up with the current, simple system. Not to mention, there would be significantly less room on the box for the art.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @11:01PM (#25742327) Homepage Journal

    "Mommy, I want 'AssRaper 2'!"

    She will then dutifully go to Gamestop and ask for "AssRaper 2", the box of which will feature a masked man with a butcher's smock and a bloody chainsaw and will feature the add text "More Carnage than AssRaper!" and "With Decapitation Physics!" The warning label will have a large 'M' and will say "Rated for Mature audiences only because of massive death counts, realistic exploding bodies and scenes of torture". She will buy it, give it to her ten year old for Christmas.

    Around March, she will walk in on her kid when he has reached a scene where a female NPC shows up topless. She will then promptly have a complete cow and write her congressman demanding that children be protected from this vile content.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @11:34PM (#25742563) Homepage

    i think it's a good thing that the ratings board is actually providing to the public more detailed explanations for the ratings they assign. however, like the MPAA's film rating system, there's still a lack of transparency in how the rating process is conducted--for instance, who is on the ratings board, how are these members selected, and what are their qualifications.

    also, the AO rating for video games, like the NC-17 rating for films, is still in effect blacklisting creative works such that they are commercially inviable by making such works impossible to distribute. this means filmmakers & video game developers need to gain the approval of the ESRB/MPAA rating board before they can release their work, essentially giving each industry's self-appointed censors editorial power over all creative works that the mainstream public has access to.

    one of the more ridiculous examples of this self-censorship process can be seen in the Manhunt 2 release for the PSP, which was crammed with so many blurry, staticky video filters and bloom effects overlaid one on top of the other, that it felt like you were watching a bad low-budget 80's grunge music video. within the game the main character was the one escaping from a psychiatric ward, but the developers were the ones who were actually stuck in an artistic straitjacket.

    the ESRB and MPAA have no right to dictate what content the public should have access to, nor should they have any sort of editorial control over published works. this has given them an unreasonable level of influence over the media and our cultural landscape. but worse yet, they are not accountable to anyone except themselves. at least if the board were selected by the public via an open and transparent process that would give them some kind of democratic legitimacy. and while i don't know much about the ESRB, according to the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated [imdb.com], the MPAA has had 2 clergy members on every ratings board since their film rating system was created. now, i'm fine with each religious establishment coming up with their own ratings for films/games/books/whatever, but why should the clergy be involved in the "official" rating system that everyone is subjected to.

    there also seems to be no written or published rubric to ensure consistent ratings across all games/films. they don't solicit opinions from the public to determine how they should hand out ratings. who are they to decide what is acceptable for children/teenagers/mature adults and what's not? at the very least they should allow the public to give feedback on the ratings they assign. so if a film or game is given the rating of AO or NC-17 but public opinion does not agree with the rating, then the rating can be changed to reflect public opinion. perhaps the IMDb can add user ratings polls for films and games. it would be interesting to see how well public opinion matches up with actual assigned ratings.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13, 2008 @12:07AM (#25742785)
    Who cares if their kids are exposed to profanity and violence? It's not like they don't hear those words a thousand times a day in 6th grade. Every person in the West is completely desensitized to all but the most viciously brutal torture scenes.. gunshot blood is nothing. Let them grow up and quit censoring their world. I love how they really nitpick on the Early Childhood rated games. LittleBigPlanet has "One ancillary character makes belching noises while talking to the player's character." FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WON'T SOMEBODY ANYBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN HERE?! BELCHING NOISES! IS THIS WHAT OUR TWISTED AND CORRUPT SOCIETY HAS COME TO?!

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"