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Entertainment Software Rating Board

Entertainment Software Rating Board
Company nameESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board)
Company typeNon-profit, self-regulatory
IndustryOrganization and rating system
Founded1994 in Canada and United States
United States
Area servedCanada
United States
Key peopleInteractive Digital Software Association (now the Entertainment Software Association)
Parent3DO Rating System (by The 3DO Company, now defunct)
Recreational Software Advisory Council (now defunct)
Videogame Rating Council (by Sega of America)

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines, and ensures responsible online privacy principles for computer and video games as well as entertainment software in Canada, Mexico and the United States. They were established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (formerly Interactive Digital Software Association), due to violent content found in video games such as Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers, and Doom, and other controversial video games portraying overly violent or intense sexual situations and assigns ratings to games based on their content, similar to the motion picture rating systems used in many countries. Their aim is to aid consumers in determining a game's content and suitability. A game's rating is displayed on its box, the media, in advertisements and on the game's website(s). By late 2009, it had assigned nearly 19,130 ratings to titles submitted by more than 350 publishers.

Although the rating system is technically voluntary, nearly all video games are submitted for rating. Many retail stores prohibit the sale of unrated video games and the major console manufacturers will not license games for their systems unless they carry ESRB ratings.

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Study: Teens able to get M-rated games - BP News Tweet this news
BP News--The data actually closely mirrors the -Entertainment Software Rating Board's- own 2010 data, which showed a 17 percent failure rate. Stores such as Best Buy, ... - Date : Thu, 28 Oct 2010 21:08:01 GMT+00:00
Retailers stumble in video game sales to youngsters - OneNewsNow Tweet this news
OneNewsNow--According to the -Entertainment Software Rating Board-, video games that carry an "M" rating (for Mature) may contain intense violence, blood and gore, ... - Date : Fri, 29 Oct 2010 09:17:01 GMT+00:00
E-mail addresses exposed in ESRB slipup - TG Daily Tweet this news
TG Daily--The -Entertainment Software Rating Board- (ESRB) inadvertently exposed hundreds of e-mail addresses while responding to complaints over Blizzard's plans to ... - Date : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 17:07:15 GMT+00:00
ESRB's privacy badge all about best practices, not anonymity - Ars Technica Tweet this news
Ars Technica---...- PM Astute gamers noticed that Blizzard's controversial Real ID system was certified by the -Entertainment Software Rating Board's- Privacy Online Program. ... - Date : Tue, 13 Jul 2010 00:47:36 GMT+00:00
Bad news bears - Globe and mail (Blogs) (blog) Tweet this news
Globe and mail (Blogs) (blog)---...- as a launching pad for a discussion about limitations inherent in the current age ratings system employed by the -Entertainment Software Ratings Board-. ... - Date : Tue, 29 Jun 2010 19:46:51 GMT+00:00
Report: Majority of Americans are gamers - TG Daily Tweet this news
TG Daily--Forty-eight percent of all games sold are rated 'E' for everyone by the -Entertainment Software Rating Board- (ESRB). Sixty-four percent of parents believe ... - Date : Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:37:08 GMT+00:00
'Alien Breed 2: Assault' revealed - Digital Spy Tweet this news
Digital Spy--Team 17's Alien Breed 2: Assault has been outed by a rating on the -Entertainment Software Rating Board's- website. ... - Date : Sun, 30 May 2010 09:07:42 GMT+00:00
ESRB Details a New PS3 Exclusive from Ubisoft - Tweet this news Shak The -Entertainment Software Ratings Board- has rated a new PlayStation 3-exclusive title coming from Ubisoft. Unfortunately it sounds like a fairly ... - Date : Mon, 31 May 2010 18:39:09 GMT+00:00
State of Play: The Case For Gaming's Greater Good - IGN Tweet this news
IGN--You might think the -Entertainment Software Rating Board- already covered this (and I've seen many a teen carded and turned away at GameStop), but Yee's law ... - Date : Thu, 03 Jun 2010 22:09:32 GMT+00:00
MTV Movie Awards Uncensored? Great Moments In F-Bomb History - (blog) Tweet this news (blog)---...- profanity -- and a number of other questionable bits of content -- the game only received a Teen rating from the -Entertainment Software Ratings Board-. ... - Date : Mon, 07 Jun 2010 04:54:58 GMT+00:00

Unrestricted ratings :
Abbreviation Rating Active since Description Age suitable Equivalent PEGI ratings Equivalent ACB ratings Equivalent CERO ratings Equivalent CHVRS ratings
Early Childhood (EC) 1994 Games with this rating contain no material that adults would find inappropriate. This content is very mild in impact. Games that fall under this rating are specifically intended for young children and are usually educational. Some examples include JumpStart Pet Rescue, Dragon Tales: Learn & Fly With Dragons and Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube systems. It, along with the E rating, is the ESRB equivalent of the MPAA's G rating for films. 3 and over Low 3 None None Low G
Everyone (E) 1997 Games in this category may contain no or minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence. Some examples include Sonic Heroes, Epic Mickey, LittleBigPlanet, Sonic the Fighters, Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt, most games in The Legend of Zelda series, Mario series, Pokémon, the Gran Turismo series, Simcity Creator, and Madden NFL. This content is mild in impact. This rating replaced K-A in 1997. 6 High 3
Low 7
G Low A High G
Everyone 10+ (E10+) Late 2004 Contains content that might be considered suitable for children 10 years of age and up. This content is moderate in impact. Games in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, violence, language, animated blood and/or minimal suggestive themes. The ESRB introduced the E10+ rating on October 1, 2004; Donkey Kong Jungle Beat being the first game to receive this rating. Some examples include Madagascar, Lego Star Wars, Kingdom Hearts series, Sonic and the Black Knight, The Legend of Spyro Trilogy, Spore, Worms: Battle Islands, Lego Universe, and Rayman Raving Rabbids 2. It is the ESRB equivalent to the MPAA's PG rating. 10 and over High 7
Low 12
PG High A
Low B
Low PG
Teen (T) 1994 Contains content that may be suitable for people 12 and older. However, it is not required that people under 12 must be accompanied by an adult to buy these games. This content is moderate to strong in impact. Titles in this category may contain more intense violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, low to no blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of mild language. Some examples include WWE Smackdown vs. Raw, Futurama, The Simpsons Hit & Run, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Need for Speed: The Run, The Sims series, the Castlevania series, the Guitar Hero series, the first four Ratchet & Clank, the Jak and Daxter series, and the Uncharted series. Most Marvel or DC games are rated Teen, such as Spider Man Shattered Dimensions or Batman: Arkham Asylum. It is the ESRB equivalent to the MPAA's PG-13 rating. 13 High 12 M High B
Low C
High PG, Low 14A

Restricted ratings :
Abbreviation Rating Active since Description Age unlocked Equivalent PEGI ratings Equivalent ACB ratings Equivalent CERO ratings Equivalent CHVRS ratings
Mature (M) 1994 Titles in this category may contain more blood and gore than the Teen rating would accommodate, sexual themes/content/references and vulgar language. This content is strong in impact. Examples of games in the lower part of this rating include Ninety-Nine Nights, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and the Halo series. Games in the higher part of this category include the Grand Theft Auto series, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, Manhunt, Postal 2, and the Call of Duty series. Many retailers (like Target, Future Shop, GameStop, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and Best Buy) have a policy of not selling games with this rating to people under 17, at least without parental approval. It is the ESRB equivalent to the MPAA's R rating. 17 and over 16
Low 18
MA15+ D, Low Z Medium 14A, High 14A, 18A, Low R
Adults Only (AO) 1994 Contains content that is considered unsuitable for people under 18 years of age, and cannot be bought by anyone below that age. These may include adult video games that show sex and graphic nudity, extreme violence and blood and gore.  , there have been twenty-three products that have received and kept the rating. The content is very strong in impact. The AO rating is the subject of ongoing, heated controversy due to the extreme restrictions it places on game sales. Games from major publishers that receive an AO rating are often 'toned down' in order to gain the lesser rating of M such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for having the 'Hot Coffee' mod and Manhunt 2 for releasing a uncut version for the computer after being edited for other consoles. Companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all have policies not allowing AO rated games to be licensed on their consoles. Additionally, most major retailers, including the ones mentioned above, have similar policies that forbids AO rated titles to be carried on store shelves and online. This consequently restricts AO rated games to the PC and Mac, and being sold in limited fashion. It is the ESRB equivalent to the MPAA's NC-17 rating. 18 and over High 18 R18+
High Z High R

Other ratings :
Abbreviation Rating Active since Description
Rating Pending (RP) 1994 First symbol is only for use in advertising and marketing materials. Second symbol indicates product(s) has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting final rating(s). However, once rated, all pre-release advertising must contain the game's official ESRB rating. Some games, depending on the intensity of their content, may also prompt the use of the disclaimer. It will only be one rating like Everyone and Mature. The true rating of an upcoming game will be unknown until the actual release of the game takes place. The true content is either unknown or extreme in impact. It is the ESRB equivalent to the notice carried on soon-to-be MPAA-rated films that have yet to receive a rating.

Former ratings :
Abbreviation Rating Active Description Age suitable
Kids to Adults (K-A) 1994 � 1997 These titles will appeal to people of many ages and tastes. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief (i.e. slapstick and gross-out comedy), or some crude language. Examples are Castlevania: Dracula X for the Super Nintendo, Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, Nights into Dreams... for the Sega Saturn, Crash Bandicoot for the PlayStation, Tetris, Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64 and Frogger 3D. This rating got replaced in the year 1997 by the E rating, which replaced all previously rated games that were Kids to Adults. 6

Video game classifications and controversies

Computer and
video game law
Family Entertainment Protection Act * Truth in Video Game Rating Act * Video Game Decency Act * Video Recordings Act 1984 * California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793 * Law 3037/2002
Game content
rating boards
Active Department of Justice, Rating, Titles and Qualification (Brazil) * Entertainment Software Rating Board * Game Rating Board * PEGI * TIGRS * Computer Entertainment Rating Organization * Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle * National Coalition Against Censorship * Valtion elokuvatarkastamo * British Board of Film Classification * Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia) * Office of Film and Literature Classification (New Zealand) * ICRA * Computer Software Rating Regulation (Taiwan)
James v. Meow Media * Strickland v. Sony * Entertainment Software Association v. Foti
Evan Bayh * Fred Upton * Herb Kohl * Hillary Rodham Clinton * Jack Thompson * Joe Lieberman * Julia Boseman * Michael Atkinson * Keith Vaz * Leland Yee * Rick Santorum * Sam Brownback * Tim Johnson
Eroge * Adult video game * First-person shooter * Nonviolent video game * Survival horror

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