#1 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

ESRB has been rating video games since 1994 and it's been near the same since its founding. Has the culture of today's society changed to the point that the ESRB needs to reevaluate the way they rate video games?

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#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (34595 posts) -

How so? What has changed that the ESRB would need to react to? Flash games or whatever? The iPhone market?

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#3 Posted by mosespippy (3735 posts) -

They have adjusted their standards as society has. What was an M in 1994 could be a T today. They are the most effectively enforced ratings system as well. It's the movie and music industries that need to reevaluate their systems.

#4 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

People today don't seem to be so hooked up on things like violence or sexual content; and the instances that I've seen in video games that would inhibit those descriptions seem to not be so explicit and more as a cautionary measure for the entertainment board.

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#5 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

@mosespippy: How so? When you look at the ratings allocated to movies they are much less sensitive to things like language and sexual content. For example, in Avatar two characters start kissing and then the movie cuts to the morning after. In the ratings description it is called sensuality, while in a game rated by the esrb it may be rated as sexual content, instead of a more apt description like suggestive material.

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#6 Posted by ajamafalous (11591 posts) -

@mosespippy: How so? When you look at the ratings allocated to movies they are much less sensitive to things like language and sexual content. For example, in Avatar two characters start kissing and then the movie cuts to the morning after. In the ratings description it is called sensuality, while in a game rated by the esrb it may be rated as sexual content, instead of a more apt description like suggestive material.

Both a game and a movie would be rated PG or T, so that's kind of a moot point.

#7 Edited by Aetheldod (3333 posts) -

@crunchyflies: Because vidja games are still seen as kid stuff by ignorant adults ... they are just covering their bases

#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (34595 posts) -
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#9 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

@ajamafalous: This may be another moot point, but as far as I can tell Mass Effect received an M rating event though the "sexual content" was near on-par with that of Avatar.

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#10 Edited by mikey87144 (1482 posts) -

Scream would be Pg-13 if it came out today but Godfather would still get an R rating. Doom maybe might get a T but Duke Nukem still would be an M. They've adjusted the ratings standards for games as society has evolved.

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#11 Posted by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@ajamafalous: This may be another moot point, but as far as I can tell Mass Effect received an M rating event though the "sexual content" was near on-par with that of Avatar.

I don't remember Avatar showing ass. Mass Effect doesn't show much but it's quite clear that the characters are naked and fucking.

Then again, I don't remember much of Avatar.

On topic, I think the ESRB are doing a fine job of rating games for the most part. I mean, I might disagree with some things (Halo comes across as more of a T series these days), but they're generally doing a good job. It's the ignorant parents that aren't paying attention to ratings that I'm really bothered by.

#12 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

@believer258: Do you mean the parents lack of restrictions or the fact that they just don't know?

Personally I don't remember much of Mass Effect, but Avatar didn't show anything aside from kissing.

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#13 Posted by Slag (3339 posts) -

No not really.

The ESRB is doing it's main job well enough, which is keeping Congress from regulating/censoring video games.

#14 Edited by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@believer258: Do you mean the parents lack of restrictions or the fact that they just don't know?

Personally I don't remember much of Mass Effect, but Avatar didn't show anything aside from kissing.

Parents not paying attention to the big white box that says "M" on the cover or the ratings guidelines that are easily found. You would think that they might say "hm, maybe this game with an angry-looking guy holding a gun on the cover isn't for my ten year old", but nope.

They're pretty explicitly doing the nasty in the original Mass Effect. You don't see anything except some ass, but it's definitely more mature than a kiss.

#15 Posted by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

@believer258: maybe it is the poor job that some parents are doing that makes me think the esrb aren't doing that great of a job.

However, I still think that they can be a little strict when it comes to some games.

I.E. Halo (which should be given a T rating) and Uncharted (which should be given an M rating -- compared to what Halo is anyway).

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#16 Posted by mosespippy (3735 posts) -

@video_game_king: Something like the Uncharted games would be an M in 1994. Heavy Rain would probably have been AO.

@crunchyflies: I mean in terms of enforcement and awareness. The ESRB is a system that all major retailers enforce and over 60% of parents are aware of and understand. They also provide more information about why things are rated what they are. Movie and TV ratings systems have much less awareness and enforcement at retail and in the theatre. Music ratings are almost worthless in the state they are currently in.

#17 Edited by BaconGames (3126 posts) -

While I think the question isn't invalid, in this instance I think there's actually little to point to that needs to be addressed. In terms of actual use cases and experiences with the organizations I can't think of anything from parents, developers, publishers, etc. who have any outstanding issues with the ESRB. If anything, the real issue that stands out is the Australian and Brazilian ratings boards which are supremely restrictive compared to the ESRB/PEGI.

@believer258: maybe it is the poor job that some parents are doing that makes me think the esrb aren't doing that great of a job.

However, I still think that they can be a little strict when it comes to some games.

I.E. Halo (which should be given a T rating) and Uncharted (which should be given an M rating -- compared to what Halo is anyway).

Sure as an organization they can tune some things on the back end to influence the macro-level numbers but at some point they're probably overstepping their bounds much like the MPAA (which is way more arbitrary and focus-testy) ratings system which occasionally threatens with an NC-17 if the content wasn't to their moral liking.

ESRB aside, games have already creatively off limits in one arena thanks to self-imposed bans on carrying AO games on the retail side. Not to say crappy porn games wouldn't take advantage but still, something to note. So really it's the more extreme end that gets the bad treatment and even then it's not really the ESRB that's banning it. So all in all I can't think of anything to fault the ESRB itself.

#18 Posted by Canteu (2814 posts) -

Better than the BBFC or PEGI.

#19 Posted by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@bacongames: Censorship is a terrible thing, but the M rating covers an extreme that I just can't see someone going beyond without being gratuitous and excessive in some manner. I mean, if a creator's game is gorier than Dead Space or is more lewd that Duke Nukem Forever then that creator needs to step back and say "What is this worth? Why am I doing it this way?"

I would never stop an AO game from existing just because I disagree with it, but I do have to wonder what is there to make it go beyond an M rating that really needs to be there.

#20 Posted by Corvak (567 posts) -

The ESRB works similar to how the MPAA rates movies - because it's a system non-gamers (parents, for the most part) understand. The system exists to provide a generalized rating at point of sale. The M rating is a huge range, but by that point I think it's purpose its "don't buy any of these for your kids".

#21 Edited by crunchyflies (13 posts) -

@believer258: While I agree with you, some people would argue realism. The problem with that is the matter of when the game in question becomes too real.

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we come to video games for a fun way to get away from the outside world or to just spend a little time having fun. If games were to suddenly take the route of extremely gory and realistic than I think that the magic of video games would be kind of lost.

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#22 Posted by believer258 (11039 posts) -

@believer258: While I agree with you, some people would argue realism. The problem with that is the matter of when the game in question becomes too real.

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we come to video games for a fun way to get away from the outside world or to just spend a little time having fun. If games were to suddenly take the route of extremely gory and realistic than I think that the magic of video games would be kind of lost.

I don't know, at some point I would like to see games tackle stories and ideas that really are mature (not in the "gore and/or sex" sense) and worth giving more than just leisure time to. Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us seem to be attempting some of that. I guess what I was trying to say is that I don't see how an AO rating would be necessary for those kinds of stories and ideas.

#23 Edited by mosespippy (3735 posts) -

@believer258: The porn industry has had a huge influence on modern society. The tens of billions they've spent on cutting edge camera technology, server technology, developments in video straming and online payment systems,etc have benefited us all. If porn games could push technology like that then it's a good thing. Just look at how Japanese dating sims have influenced the Persona games. While individual pieces of work may not be necessary, as a group they can create innovations.

#24 Posted by CrazyBagMan (801 posts) -

We definitely don't need things to be less strict. It would just be asking for more Fox News reports about kids getting violent games and murdering everyone.

#25 Edited by BaconGames (3126 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@bacongames: Censorship is a terrible thing, but the M rating covers an extreme that I just can't see someone going beyond without being gratuitous and excessive in some manner. I mean, if a creator's game is gorier than Dead Space or is more lewd that Duke Nukem Forever then that creator needs to step back and say "What is this worth? Why am I doing it this way?"

I would never stop an AO game from existing just because I disagree with it, but I do have to wonder what is there to make it go beyond an M rating that really needs to be there.

I think that's completely valid. The only question is whether a game released with an AO content that pulls it off can be viable on Steam let's say. Sure non-rated and AO games have been PC only for a while but I wonder how well the video game equivalent to the Michael Fassbender movie Shame would do.

#26 Posted by Dagbiker (6898 posts) -

@mosespippy: How so? When you look at the ratings allocated to movies they are much less sensitive to things like language and sexual content. For example, in Avatar two characters start kissing and then the movie cuts to the morning after. In the ratings description it is called sensuality, while in a game rated by the esrb it may be rated as sexual content, instead of a more apt description like suggestive material.

There is no 'sensuality' 'rating' for the ESRB the Ratings are E, Ec, T, M, AO.

The descriptors are only telling you why they rated it that way.

#27 Posted by Dagbiker (6898 posts) -

@crunchyflies said:

@believer258: While I agree with you, some people would argue realism. The problem with that is the matter of when the game in question becomes too real.

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we come to video games for a fun way to get away from the outside world or to just spend a little time having fun. If games were to suddenly take the route of extremely gory and realistic than I think that the magic of video games would be kind of lost.

I don't know, at some point I would like to see games tackle stories and ideas that really are mature (not in the "gore and/or sex" sense) and worth giving more than just leisure time to. Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us seem to be attempting some of that. I guess what I was trying to say is that I don't see how an AO rating would be necessary for those kinds of stories and ideas.

Steam already sells unrated games. So, one step a head of you...

#28 Posted by Clonedzero (3719 posts) -

Halo is rated M. That's silly.

#29 Edited by mandude (2667 posts) -

Should probably just disappear really.

#30 Posted by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@clonedzero said:

Halo is rated M. That's silly.

I was going ask if you didn't see that woman's face get burned off, but then Raiders of the Lost Ark is a PG I guess.