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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How Do Video Games Get Rated?


Image Source: esrb.org

How Do Video Games Get Rated?

"Sen. Hillary Clinton has called for an investigation of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas after hackers discovered a secret section of the game that depicts graphic sex acts. The game has a rating of 'M,' for mature audiences. Clinton says the game probably deserves the more restrictive 'AO,' for adults only. Where do video game ratings come from?

An industry-funded group called the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The ESRB was founded in 1994 amid chatter that the government would start to regulate game makers. Software developers aren't required by law to submit their games to the ESRB, but many retailers only sell titles that receive a rating from the board. If a company does ask for a rating, it must comply with the rules of the ESRB or face penalties, which can include cash fines and product recalls.

When submitting a game for the board's scrutiny, the developer fills out a questionnaire that describes potentially offensive material, especially sequences involving drugs, sex, or violence. The company must also supply the rating board with the scripts for any scenes with dialogue and material like song lyrics. The package sent to the ESRB will also include a videotape showing the game's basic plot and each questionable scene. Such videos can be several hours long." [more]




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