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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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  • ESRB (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @09:48PM (#25741829) Homepage Journal

    Rating summary: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 2 is a 'point-and-click' adventure game based on characters from the online comic Penny Arcade. Players battle enemies using a role-playing game style combat system, taking turns using fists and weapons to harm various robots and humans. Several cutscenes depict 'cartoony,' over-the-top instances of violence, including heads being blown off, characters sliced up by lasers, splattering blood and flying body parts. Humor is often based on bodily functions and 'by-products' (e.g., syringe injections full of urine) and sometimes sexuality (e.g., robots humping legs, testicles and taxidermy). The game also contains frequent use of strong profanity (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t").

    Parents won't read these and if they do, it will only be after the kid has played it.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @10:01PM (#25741899)

    I don't think the current rating system which just lumps things into categories like 'T' and 'M' work all that well. Take for instance, the hypothetical game "Bert and Ernie's Fucking Amazing Adventure!" where characters perform no violent actions at all and there is no sexual content in the game. The only catch is that every other word is the foulest profanity known to man. The game will probably be rated 'M' simply due to the language content, but being completely devoid of sexual or violent content, it's still fine for a child to play assuming you don't care if they pick up any fowl language.

    Why not rate games based on a few categories: Violence, Sex, Language, etc. Each category is given a score where a higher score indicates more objectionable content. I think that this gives consumers looking at the box a better understanding of what the game's content is like without actually lumping it into some other person's idea of "Mature." This would also go a long way towards stopping games that are labeled "Adults Only" from essentially being banned from store shelves.

    If you actually define the ratings fairly well you really don't need an ERSB as companies can actually determine where the ratings should be at themselves. It will probably never happen, but it's just another solution that's considerably better than the ERSB and all the incompetence and idiocy that comes along with it.

  • ESRB, AKA useless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZekoMal ( 1404259 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @10:16PM (#25742015)
    Let's Nintendo 64 Hexen has an M for mature rating, due to extreme gore and violence (also known as giant red squares falling away from 16-bit monsters as you blast them with magical attacks).

    This same rating was slapped on GTA, and that same rating sat on Splinter Cell as well (a game where shooting someone in the head sometimes doesn't even kill the guy, and there is absolutely no blood, even when you cut a dudes throat on the third game).

    They can slap those ratings on all day; kids are still gonna play them. Parents will give it a cursory glance, some cashiers don't even bother with an ID check when they sell a kid a game.

    If you play a video game and get transformed into a violent, horrible person that then purchases an axe and steel toed boots so you can go slaughter people, chances are the video game was not the cause.

    Of course, in a country of scape goats, video games are an easy way to pass the buck. Couldn't be the 24 hour news networks, that often times spend hours on the wanton slaughter of civilians in war, shootings, rape trials, and robberies. Couldn't possibly be that war is almost celebrated by our government as a 'tactic' to mend the economy (or ruin it if you can't finish it up fast). Couldn't possibly be because the parents of these kids don't seem to notice any subtle changes in their kid (such as no friends, suicidal tendencies, gun purchasing, shooting lessons, and books on resurrection). Couldn't possibly be the fault of parents or politicians. Nope, it has to be the video games that billions of people play; just like owning a car means that you drink and drive, and owning a gun means that you murder people regularly...oh wait.
  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WDot ( 1286728 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @11:06PM (#25742359)
    While Giant Bomb lampoons the ESRB summaries like this, I applaud them. Previously the only people who would give parents information about the inappropriateness of video game content were a few small parent group or Christian ministry sites that either were woefully incomplete in their games lists or tainted their reviews with particular ideologies. It's nice to see such graphic detail written by objective professionals. For example, Penny Arcade is definitely a niche game, but I can see why parents might be attracted to it--if they don't know better, the game does look pretty cute and cartoony. What could possibly land it an M rating?
  • WotLK (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13, 2008 @01:27AM (#25743223)
    World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

    Platform: Macintosh, Windows PC

    Rating: Teen

    Content descriptors: Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

    Rating summary: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game set in the imaginary world of Azeroth. Players complete quests to 'level up' their customized characters, while gaining powers and better equipment along the way. Quest objectives sometimes involve using magic and hand-to-hand combat to defeat various creatures, enemy soldiers, and occasionally other characters such as innocent villagers. Some attacks can result in splashes of red blood, while collateral damage also includes bursts of flesh and bone falling to the ground. Certain quests require the player to drink alcohol, resulting in the character's impaired vision (blurry screen, pink elephants) and movement. Players can interact with scantily clad characters, listen to provocative dialogue (e.g., "Is that a mana wyrm in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"), or view sexually suggestive dance routines performed by elves and other player-characters.

    Sign me up!

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