Video Game Rating Systems – A Better Approach to Content Ratings – Extra Credits



For years the ESRB rating system has sort of been the sole arbiter of how age-appropriate any given game is but times are changing Today with the flood of games for the mobile social and tablet world as well as the vast increase of games We're seeing digitally distributed on services like steam There's just no way for the ESRB to keep up on top of that the ESRB Charges a fee to rate games as they have to go over a video sent to them from the developer by hand and this fee Is prohibitively expensive for small studios or people just trying to break into the market so what do we do? After all as an industry we do need some way for players to be able to get a vague idea of what sort of content They'll be getting when they pick up one of our games parents need some way to tell if a game is appropriate for their children and all of us at a glance need some way to tell if a title is going to contain things we might find objectionable [so] what's the solution well luckily the first step in solving this problem is quite easy in fact many companies? Including the ESRB are already doing it And that's to have a checklist of content that the player might want to know about before picking up the game such as alcohol use Nudity or Explicit violence and have the developers fill out this content checklist before launching their game this puts the entire burden of rating games on developers thus spreading the burden around and making it feasible to rate every game that comes out without making the process too expensive for Anybody to do but how do we keep people from cheating the system? After all there are plenty of unscrupulous developers out there who might want to get themselves a lower rating well That is the hard part mostly because it means we're going to have to agree to use the same system And then we're going to have to give it some teeth so first off We need all the digital distributors steam, gog, Facebook, the app store, Google play, and so on to agree to a Universal checklist a standard set of questions that every developer has to answer before they can even get their game onto one of these stores This checklist can then generate a general? minimum recommended age for a product Similar to how the ESRB currently rates games once you have that you'll have all games required to get a rating before they can go Live anywhere, but that's not quite enough. We're still going to make sure that developers either by error or by choice Don't miss rate their games [so] next we have to have all of these distributors integrate a system where players can flag miss rated games if a game for example Contains a fairly explicit sex scene that the developers failed to include on their rating list thus garnering a lower recommended Range for the title players could flag it for inaccurate rating and from a drop-down box pick Sexual content as the reason why if you wanted to get really slick? You could even give the user a comment box where they could say exactly where in the game this content was found once enough people Have flagged this content then the game would be subject to review by an independent body Potentially the ESRB if this group deemed that the complaints were justified the title would then be suspended from all? Services for 30 days and wouldn't be returned to the services until the rating was amended to reflect the issues found with the game this Would heavily disincentivize people from trying to circumvent the rating system because the cost of being suspended from these services for a month would be? disastrous for most games But at the same time the system wouldn't fall prey to user abuse either even if some call of Duty VS. Battlefield Fanboy flame war were to break out and spill over into this area they couldn't just get a game auto banned by flagging it enough times because a real human reviewer would have to get involved before any real consequences were doled out and Since the number [of] titles that would require this rating review process would likely be relatively small the digital distributors could probably foot the bill for the rating review submission without too much pain And if necessary to offset the cost they could even charge a fee to any developer found in appropriately rating their games before that Dev Could put games back on their distribution services of course this system I'm proposing isn't without its own problems the two major issues with this system Is that one it doesn't work for retail products and two a mis rated game could only be corrected after launch [rather] than before it the first of these two problems isn't Particularly concerning as we already have a perfectly workable system that we've been using for years to rate retail products and while there may be Some changes that we'd want to make to the existing Esrb system There's no reason not to continue using it as to the second issue I think you'd see all the biggest titles still get ESRB ratings for retail purposes anyway So if we don't have to worry about those which just leaves the smaller games and while it's true that these titles might not always Be perfectly rated when they go live at least they would have some rating rather than none at all which is the case today Additionally a system like the one I've proposed is apt to catch any errors before a game really grows to reach a wide audience And the last thing a developer wants is to see their games suspended from the distributors Just as it was taking off again more incentive for developers to take that rating checklist seriously, so to answer the opening question How do we rate the flood of that are being created today? Fundamentally we ask the developers to do it we just make sure that they do it right by getting all the Distributors to use their power as the means of access to games to make sure that the devs do it right? Get you all next week! *outro plays*

33 thoughts on “Video Game Rating Systems – A Better Approach to Content Ratings – Extra Credits

  1. The HALO Series
    HALO games are rated Mature for Blood and Gore, Mild Language, and Violence. Yes, the games are violent. They center around humans warring with aliens. The aliens want the humans dead and we've got to stop them. It's a noble cause any human can rally around. Master Chief and the Spartans aren't gunning down innocent people. The problem with HALO's rating is there really isn't blood or gore and there's only a few curse words. Most of blood that's shown is purple or green alien blood. Think of it as a PG-13 movie. In fact, the new HALO Legends movie is rated PG-13. The video games should be rated T for Teens.

    Super Smash Bros Melee and Brawl
    These wildly popular fighting games pit classic Nintendo characters against each other. Both video games are rated Teen. Melee has Comic Mischief and Mild Violence. Brawl has Cartoon Violence and Crude Humor. I've played both of the games with my son. I can't understand the rating. You can be Mario and slap Donkey Kong around. It's Nickelodeon type fighting. As for Crude Humor unless you count "Pikachu" being said repeatedly, there's not much talking. Wario has a farting attack, that's about it. If your kids are allowed to watch Spongebob, they should be able to play Super Smash Bros games. These video games should be rated E or E10+.
    The Incredibles,Tom & Jerry war of the whiskers should have been Rated E10+

  2. Uncharted should have been Rated M
    Halo should be Rated T cause there’s no blood,few curse words
    Destroy all humans 2 should have been Rated M
    Super smash bros melee & brawl should have been Rated E10+

  3. For as bad as the ESRB is, at least it’s less broken than the MPAA. Seriously, PG-13 may be the worst thing that has ever happened to movies

  4. I fundamentally disagree with the concept of giving one organization the power to control what games we the consumers are allowed to play on our preferred clients.

  5. I remember Dragon Quest VIII was originally rated T. The remake has the rating changed to E10+ after censoring Jessica’s outfits, even though her Bunny outfit shows more skin than less like the other outfits. It should’ve been left the way it was and kept the T rating. Besides, the Puff-Puff Room was left in the game’s remake.

  6. They should instead use a H-M system
    H- no questionable content
    I- non sexual nudity and/or minor violence (like Mario kart)
    J- non gore violence (like minecraft or super mario galaxy)
    K- Swearing
    L- Alcohol usage, gambling or gore violence
    M- sexual content, racism and discrimination

    Additional tags –
    i – online but restricted/no communication
    k – open online communication

    So minecraft would be Jk
    FIFA would be Hi
    Mario kart would be Ii
    Finally, GTA would be Mi

  7. Just use a North American version of PEGI,
    Instead of Pan-European Game Information, it's Pan-American Game Information, or PAGI.

  8. I prefer the PEGI rating system, the ESRB can be too broad where as PEGI gives specific age recommendations for the game like PEGI 12 or PEGI 18.

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