Video Game Ratings Guide

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide information about video and computer game content, so you can make informed purchase decisions. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game, and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.

To take full advantage of the ESRB rating system, it's important to check both the rating symbol (on the front of the game box) and the content descriptors (on the back of the game box).

         

Early Childhood

EARLY CHILDHOOD
Titles rated EC - Early Childhood have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

Everyone

EVERYONE
Titles rated E - Everyone have content that may be suitable for persons ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.

EVERYONE 10+

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 10 and older.  Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.

TEEN
Titles rated T - Teen have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older.  Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

Mature

MATURE
Titles rated M - Mature
have content that may be suitable for persons 17 years and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.

Adults Only

ADULTS ONLY
Titles rated AO - Adults Only
have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

 

 

 

 

 

RATING PENDING
Titles listed as RP - Rating Pending
have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating.  (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.) 

 

 

ESRB Content Descriptors

 

  • Alcohol Reference - Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages

  • Animated Blood - Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood

  • Blood - Depictions of blood

  • Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts

  • Cartoon Violence – Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted

  • Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor

  • Crude Humor – Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor

  • Drug Reference - Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs

  • Fantasy Violence – Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life

  • Intense Violence – Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict.  May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons, and depictions of human injury and death  

  • Language – Mild to moderate use of profanity

  • Lyrics – Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol, or drug use in music

  • Mature Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references

  • Nudity - Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity

  • Partial Nudity - Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity

  • Real Gambling – Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency

  • Sexual Content – Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity.

  • Sexual Themes – References to sex or sexuality

  • Sexual Violence – Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts

  • Simulated Gambling – Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency

  • Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity

  • Strong Lyrics - Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol, or drug use in music

  • Strong Sexual Content – Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity.

  • Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials

  • Tobacco Reference - Reference to and/or images of tobacco products

  • Use of Drugs - The consumption or use of illegal drugs

  • Use of Alcohol - The consumption of alcoholic beverages

  • Use of Tobacco - The consumption of tobacco products

  • Violence - Scenes involving agressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment

  • Violent References - References to violent acts

 

When a content descriptor is preceded by the term 'Mild', it conveys low frequency, intensity or severity of the content it modifies.

 

Online Rating Notice

Online-enabled games carry the notice “Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB.”  This notice warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of content created by other players (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.

 

For the most up to date list of content descriptors and definitions, go to http://www.esrb.org

 

About Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that independently assigns ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.

 

(content and graphics taken straight from ESRB on 3/31/08)

You should know…

  • 90% of teenagers say that their parents never check the video game ratings before allowing them to rent or buy computer or video games. (Walsh, et al.)

  • ~66% of gamers are over 18  and the average age of a game player is 29 years old (ESA) thus videogames aren't made just for kids anymore. Be sure to check the rating before buying/renting a game for your child.

  • Of all games sold in 2003:
    54% were rated Everyone (E).
    30.5% were rated Teen (T).
    11.9% were rated Mature (M).

  • Two studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on April 23, 2000 confirmed that violent video games negatively affect behavior. One study demonstrated that graphically violent video games produce an immediate increase in aggressive thoughts and behavior. The other study found that violent game play not only increased aggressive behavior, but produced a long-term, real-life impact on the behavior and relationships of the players. more