Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ESRB explains how game ratings work

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The ESRB is drawing back the curtain on how they rate games. ESRB president Patricia Vance explains to Gamasutra that they employ six full-time raters who are hired in a "fairly straightforward interview process." These people review a DVD or videotape created by the games' publisher regarding the content up for consideration. Vance says they prefer raters who have experience with children, whether it be their own or through their profession, and are able to express thier views regarding content. The raters don't have to be gamers, but they do need to know how to use a controller because "part of their job is to test final product after its release to confirm that the original submission materials prepared by the publisher reflected the final product."

Vance says rating games can be difficult, especially in deciding what language to use as descriptors on the box. A prime example she uses is if an animated looking character smacks another over the head with a frying pan; is that "Comic Mischief" or "Mild Cartoon Violence?" She also says that the presence of sensitive social issues like sexual or racial stereotyping has led to "internal debate" on how to address these issues in the rating. We would have to laugh (and be disturbed) if the rating labels ever started warning of "Ridiculous Cleavage" or "Potential Homosexual Content."
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[via] Joystiq

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