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Roundabout reclassified photo
Roundabout reclassified

Did you know the ESRB can reclassify games after they're released?

I didn't
Mar 11
// Brett Makedonski
The rating that the ESRB gives a game prior to release isn't the one that it'll necessarily have forever. No Goblin found this out recently when Roundabout was reclassified from Teen to Mature. As No Goblin detailed on t...
From Software photo
From Software

Dark Souls developer's PS1 classic Shadow Tower rated by ESRB

From Software's first-person roots
Feb 26
// Steven Hansen
From Software doesn't just make Demon's/Dark Souls and Bloodborne. The company created Armored Core, too. It also followed its King's Field games with another first-person, skeletal RPG, Shadow Tower. Shadow Tower has be...
The Evil Within photo
The Evil Within

Setting children on fire will get you an M rating, apparently

The Overly Sensitive Ratings Board is at it again
Aug 11
// Rob Morrow
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the ESRB has given Tango Gameworks' upcoming survival horror title The Evil Within a Mature rating. Content descriptors include Blood, Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Languag...


Whippersnappers and gaming, or why you should be involved as a parent

Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Aug 03
// Brittany Vincent
[Sometimes great community blogs come from Dtoid staff, and this piece by Brittany Vincent is no exception. Want to see your own words on the front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon] As unfortunate as it was that I di...
Digital Devil Saga 2 PSN photo
Digital Devil Saga 2 PSN

ESRB rates Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 for PS3

Jun 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 might just be the next Atlus classic to manifest on PlayStation 3, an ESRB rating for the RPG suggests. The news shouldn't come as a total surprise. A sizable portion of the Japan...

Atlus' baby-making RPG earns an 'M' rating from ESRB

Jan 18 // Wesley Ruscher
The full ESRB rating summary used to describe Conception II can be found below. This is a role-playing game in which players assume the role of a young student trying to rid the world of monsters. While exploring dungeons, players engage in turn-based battles with a variety of human and fantastical enemies (e.g., ogres, demons). Human characters occasionally use guns to shoot the player's characters; other fighters use hammers, swords, or blasts of energy to deplete opponents' health meters. A handful of scenes depict a character covered in blood across the chest and upper arm. The game includes some suggestive dialogue (e.g., “You have giant boobs!” “I think your breasts are very lovely . . . Um, well…Their shape is…I think boys would like them.”). During the course of the game, players are able to engage in a Classmating system, in which two characters interact to create a Star Child; these brief sequences do not depict sexual acts, though the female characters shown are often partially nude and placed in suggestive poses (e.g., on their hands and knees). Female characters are also depicted with jiggling breasts, and camera angles often zoom-in on cleavage and buttocks. The words “sh*t” and 'a*shole' appear in the dialogue. Conception II Rated “M” By ESRB [Siliconera]
Conception II photo
"You have giant boobs!"
Atlus' upcoming Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita role-playing rendezvous, Conception II: Children of the Stars has been rated 'Mature" by the ESRB.  The M rating lists “Fantasy Violence, Langua...

Metal Gear Solid photo
Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes rated Mature

Despite including 'Sexual Violence'
Jan 06
// Jordan Devore
Back in the day, we used to regularly post ESRB rating summaries that were humorous in their dry delivery or were otherwise notable. The listing for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes has sparked discussion for its "Sexual Vio...
The Walking Dead photo
The Walking Dead

ESRB rates Walking Dead Game of the Year edition

Presumably, that means there will be one
Oct 14
// Conrad Zimmerman
The ESRB has published a rating for The Walking Dead: Game of the Year Edition, indicating that such a product will be making its way to the marketplace soon. The (unsurprising) "M" rating applies to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, ...
ESRB photo

ESRB ratings receive a slight design change

Mostly for mobile devices
Aug 02
// Jordan Devore
The Entertainment Software Rating Board's iconic black-and-white ratings are getting a new design this year, Polygon reports. They're actually effective as of now, but these things can take time to roll out properly. Why the ...

Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions coming to PSOne classics

PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and PSP compatible
Aug 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
An ESRB listing has revealed that Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions is heading to the PSOne classics category on PlayStation Network. It will be playable on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and the PlayStation Portable. Sure,...
Sonic photo

Sonic Lost World's 'aggressive' language is exactly that

'I'm going to skin you alive' is a thing someone will say
Jul 30
// Jordan Devore
It wasn't terribly long ago that we got regular laughs out of Entertainment Software Board ratings. When reading a summary of a videogame mostly free of context, silliness is bound to crop up. The rating for Sonic Lost World ...

The new Ace Attorney game has been rated M

Also here's some new videos
Jul 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Well this is random. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies has been rated M for mature by the ESRB. Past games have always been rated T for teen, and the reasoning behind this change isn't all that clear. Sure, the g...

Guardian: Over half of 2012's top 50 games are violent

Apparently Super Mario 3D Land is violent
May 02
// Dale North
The Guardian has put together this very slick interactive infographic using their analysis of the top 50 videogames of 2012. They found that more than half of the top games of last year contain violent labeling as assigned by...
Grand Theft Auto photo
Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto and GTA 2 rated for PlayStation Network

Thanks for the heads up, ESRB
May 01
// Jordan Devore
Listings for both Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2 have surfaced on the Entertainment Software Rating Board's website which point to release on PSN for PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and PSP. How does that sound? Funny h...
PlayStation Network photo
PlayStation Network

'Best of PlayStation Network Vol. 1' rating surfaces

Four-game collection outed by ESRB
Apr 01
// Jordan Devore
An Entertainment Software Rating Board listing for Best of PlayStation Network Vol. 1 has been discovered. What cuts it for "best of" these days? According to the rating, this first bundle contains Tokyo Jungle, Fat...
Jak and Daxter photo
Jak and Daxter

Jak and Daxter Collection might come to PS Vita

New ESRB listing suggests a port is in the works
Mar 23
// Tony Ponce
The original Jak and Daxter was a charming little platformer if not a bit derivative. The two sequels were... err... something else, for lack of a better phrase. I enjoyed them nonetheless, and I'm disappointed that Naughty D...
ESRB photo

New ESRB rule means we could see less age-gated trailers

I was born on January 1, honest!
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
With recent changes at the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, the amount of time we spend entering in our date of birth for Mature-rated game trailers (and then reentering it, because it never seems to keep) may diminish. ...

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is probably a PSN title

ESRB listing reveals
Feb 18
// Dale North
Holy heartboobs! Platform details from the ESRB listing for Persona 2: Eternal Punishment solves the mystery from yesterday. With both PS3 and PSP listed as platforms, it looks like this other Persona 2 release will be a Play...
Persona photo

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment surfaces on ESRB

Pricey PlayStation RPG rated for PS3 and PSP
Feb 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
[Update: The commenters have brought up a good point, that this could also be a PSOne Classics release and not a localization of the Japanese PSP version. Of course, we'll let you know as soon as we do.] Another of those atte...

The DTOID Show: Adventure Time, Deadpool, & Spider-Boobs

Jul 16
// Max Scoville
Holy crap guys, I think this might be my favorite episode of the show we've done in ages. Like, just in terms of the pure awesomeness/absurdity of today's news. For starters, the ESRB has described all the awful things that a...

ESRB: Resident Evil 6 features hybridized spider-boobs

Jul 16
// Jim Sterling
It's been ages since we had a good ESRB rating story, but America's guardians have delivered the goods once more. As usual, we've got a rating for an M-rated game and, as usual, it makes said game sound delightful ... in a ki...

The DTOID Show: Orbis, SimCity 5, and Max Payne 3!

Mar 28
// Tara Long
Evening, my lovelies. We've got a great show for you today - one full of flowers, pony rides, butterscotch candies, and all the video game news you could ever want!* On today's show, Max dove into some rumors about the next ...

ESRB censors the red on Risen 2 box art

Mar 28
// Jim Sterling
The ESRB has made Deep Silver remove a red stain from Risen 2: Dark Waters' box art. This stain will go from red to turquoise, owing to the North American rating board's stance on cover imagery that could represent blood.&nbs...

Game Gear games finally rated for 3DS

Feb 02
// Jim Sterling
When the 3DS eShop was first announced, we were promised more than just Nintendo systems. Naturally, nothing came of that pledge in North America for months and months, until now. According to the ESRB, Game Gear games are fi...

ESRB lists PSP games for PlayStation certified devices

Jan 23
// Dale North
The Electronics Software Ratings Board has listed a bunch of PSP games for PlayStation Certified Devices, which would include Sony tablets and the Xperia line of phones. PlayStation LifeStyle says that Syphon Filter: Dark Mir...

ESRB rating hints at Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet PC

Jan 17
// Jordan Devore
A game like Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet would really pop on a sleek computer monitor, wouldn't you agree? According to an ESRB rating, the game will be bringing its mild fantasy violence over to Windows-based PCs at some p...

Apple and Google pass on new ESRB mobile game ratings

Dec 01
// Dale North
The ESRB and CTIA got together to create a ratings system for mobile games, but the two biggest in the business do not plan to participate.  We told you earlier this week that providers like AT&T, Microsoft, Spr...

ESRB and CTIA introduce new mobile game rating system

Nov 29
// Dale North
The details are still in the works, but a press release today lets us know that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and wireless association CTIA have come together to create a mobile videogame rating system. ...

Talking to Women about Videogames: The ESRB has failed

Nov 08 // Jonathan Holmes
The ESRB has two jobs: to determine what games are appropriate for what age groups and to deter people from the "wrong" age groups from playing the "wrong" games. It hasn't succeeded at any of that. The E, T, M, AO system does not properly divide games into what groups should be playing them, it does not properly describe the content in the games it classifies, and it also encourages players of the "inappropriate" groups to be attracted to the games they aren't supposed to play (for obvious reasons). It's not all the ESRB's fault, though. Society as a whole has the wrong idea about what is bad for kids to experience. When it comes to children, people's fear of harming the child or potentially shaping them into a "bad" person often blinds them from common sense. Take people's fear of swearing, for instance. Hearing people swear won't hurt kids or make them more inclined to repeat the swears they hear. If that were the case, then every kid on the planet would be swearing constantly, as there is literally no escape from swear words in today's world. Kids can hear all the swears they want and oftentimes do. What's important is how the children are taught to understand the meaning of those words, and if and when it's OK to use them. Same goes for the nudity and violence that they see in movies and videogames. As long as the child is prevented from experiencing something that will disturb or traumatize them, all that's left is to help them to learn not to repeat the dangerous or harmful things that they've seen. In general, I would say that it's the minor violent actions that are physically and morally easy for children to repeat that are the most dangerous for children to witness. The fantastic, ultra-violent stuff is almost always presented with serious consequences within the given context of the event. While that stuff may be overstimulating to a kid, or even disturbing, it's not likely to teach him or her to be "bad," not in the way that more minor, seemingly "harmless" violence can. Here's a story from experience to drive home that point. When I was a kid (probably between five and seven), I got really angry at my mother, but I can't remember why. It was probably something about Care Bears. Regardless, I was really upset, but not in a tantrum way. This time, I wanted to express my anger in a more "real" way, but I couldn't think of a way that would show her the depths of my anger while remaining relatively harmless. Enter Tom and Jerry. There is one episode of this extremely violent cat and mouse kids' show where Tom (the cat) pretends to prepare a place at the table for his owner as part of his evil plan. He politely pulls the chair out for her, only to yank it from beneath her right as she's about to sit down. Since this is a "kids' show," Tom's owner wasn't seriously hurt. We wouldn't want to make the kids feel bad, now would we? Instead, his owner just hops right back to her feet and chases Tom around with a room with a broomstick, leading Tom to jump into a vase to hide, transform into a carpet under his master's feet, or something else whimsical and exciting. That was perfect. That was exactly what I was going for. From there, I set a plan in motion to repeat the "prank" that I learned from Tom. I made my mom some toast, set her a place at the table, politely pulled the chair out for her, and yanked it away at the last minute. Much to my horror, a fun and lighthearted chase scene between my mother and myself did not follow. Instead, my Mom and I were both in tears. She was crying in emotional and physical pain, while I was crying in guilt, shame, and empathetic sadness from my betrayed parent. If she had come down any harder, she could have ended up in the hospital. I think we both remember that as one of the all-time low points in our relationship. Now, keep in mind that by this age, I'd seen plenty of action, horror, and sexy movies. I'd watched Stripes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Porky's, and endless reels of gangster movies and episodes of the Twilight Zone. I'd also played all of the most violent videogames on the market (except Chiller). None of them did the same damage to me that Tom and Jerry did, because in Tom and Jerry, there were no serious consequences for the characters' actions. In other media, I saw that sex and violence were possible but emotionally trying experiences that were definitely a bad idea for a kid like me to try to repeat. That wasn't the case with Tom and Jerry. There was absolutely nothing in the show there to teach me that I should not repeat the behaviors I witnessed. In my personal experience, I've heard of the same kinds of things happening with modern videogames. I've heard of children jumping on turtles and kicking them down the street, expecting them to innocuously retreat into their shells like they do in the Mario games, only to find them crushed into a bloody pulp under foot. I've heard of kids making disgusting food and getting extremely sick to their stomachs because of what they learned from Cooking Mama or even starting fires due to their young culinary ambitions. I have never heard of a kid stealing a car or beating up a prostitute because they saw it in Grand Theft Auto. I have never heard of a child becoming sexually active purely after experiencing the world of romantic failings and foibles through the lenses of Catherine and We Dare. In fact, when it comes to corrupting our children, I think that videogames are probably the least of our problems. It's stuff that's happening in real life that we should probably worry about. The research that Drs. Cheryl K. Olson and Lawrence Kutner utilized for their book Grand Theft Childhood echoes those sentiments. Their research showed that behaviors that were difficult to replicate or were shown to have negative repercussions were less likely to be repeated by children. Kids played Grand Theft Auto to blow off some steam after feeling bullied at school and actually felt less aggressive afterwards. Games with a lot blood or were generally more disturbing to children, and as a result, children were less likely to want to reenact violent acts they witnessed in bloody games. If Mario had a blood code, we may have had a lot fewer dead turtles in our country.  Of course, that's still just a generalization. The key thing to take away here is that there is no way to guess how all kids will react to the same content or how kids' parents will help them to process the content in question. There is no universal truth when it comes to this issue. It's all dependent on the individuals. All we can do is try to remind people to take responsibility for their actions as parents and as people.  This brings us back the ESRB, which doesn't seem to have much of a grasp on that concept. Instead, it works to determine what kinds of content is and is not harmful to children regardless of some sort of universal standard, the context, or how the content is implemented. Does it actually think that raising a child is that black and white? What's even weirder is that most in the industry just pretend that the ESRB matters, all while millions of parents buy Modern Warfare 3 for their 10 year olds, fully aware that the game will be relatively harmless to the hearts and minds of their particular offspring.  Part of that is because things could be a lot worse. If Leland Yee had his way, the world of videogame content ratings would be a police state. It's better to just let the ESRB pretend that it's doing a good job than to get rid of it, potentially permitting a much worse power to come into control. Another part of the problem is that we expect too much from the ESRB. It can't be our co-parent, and we shouldn't want it to be. The fact that it is so powerful in the eyes of some people speaks more to the desperate hunger parents feel for "expert advice" on child rearing than anything else. So if the ESRB can't do much to help us parent our kids, then what is it good for? Well, I guess it could serve the purpose of helping us know what kind of content a game contains, if it really wanted to. I guess the ratings could serve as sort of a mini-review system, but instead of addressing quality, they only address intensity. That might help people to weed out the games the games that might gross them out or give them nightmares, right? Even that is a little unnecessary, though. For the most part, kids will naturally be disturbed or otherwise repelled by any content that they aren't ready for. Kids feel pain, emotionally and physically. That's not something to be sad about. That pain helps them to instinctively avoid things that will hurt them. As I talked about in a past Constructoid, kids won't play games that are too much for them. If Resident Evil 4 is too intense for them, they'll go right back to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Water tends to find its own level, as does the mind of a child. Still, for the completely oblivious, I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a heads-up about the kind of content a game contains before they spend $60 on it. That doesn't mean that it's good for those labels to contain the completely arbitrary labels of "Everyone," "Teen," "Mature," and "Adults Only." I know plenty of kids who only play M-rated games, and plenty of adults who would never bother with anything rated T or above. Age doesn't really have that much to do with it, especially when it comes to something like videogames where both the graphics and interactivity send a constant message to the player that the events on screen are not a reflection of real-life events. People (usually) always have control over the events of a videogame. They can change the script to the story with the punch of a button at any time or just put the controller down and end the story right then and there. That helps to remind players that none of it is real and to keep things from getting more intense than they can handle. The exit door is always close by. It seems like society as a whole is still figuring that out. In the meantime, if the ESRB still insists of rating how disturbing or offensive various videogames are, then I think it should come right out and say it. Don't tempt kids to play M-rated games by dangling the ever-attractive "mature" label in from of their noses, and don't imply that certain games have more mass market appeal by saying they are for "everyone." If you think a game is potentially disturbing to kids or adults, don't put an age label on it. Just call a spade a spade. Change ratings the ratings from E, T, M, and AO to B (Benign), PO (Potentially Offensive), PD (Potentially Disturbing), and PT (Potentially Traumatizing), in that order. Not only is this less likely to attract kids to the "wrong" kinds of games (assuming that the "wrong" kind of games even exist on some objective level of measure), it's also just more honest. If a father isn't able to determine on his own (after doing some research of course, like every good parent does before buying a game for their child) that a thoroughly silly and joyfully taboo-bending game like Shadows of the Damned may not be a good fit for his easily startled, Hugga Bunch-loving little boy, I don't see how the the M rating is going to help him to understand it any better. I wonder if "potentially disturbing" might do the job though. Maybe that label will help drive home the fact that a game where you run around on top a giant replica of your naked girlfriend's body, only to have her disembodied head call you all sorts of swear words later on, might be a little to freaky for his son. Hey, if thats what it takes to help him be a decent parent, who am I to complain?  As someone who's been playing videogames far longer than the ESRB has existed, it's easy for me to see how much better it could be, assuming that we need the ESRB to exist at all. That's just me, though. How about you guys? Has the ESRB ever helped you to avoid a game that was too mature for you to handle, or otherwise aided you and yours in avoiding being emotionally or psychologically damaged by videogames?  Past Episodes: Talking to Women about Videogames: 3DS 2nd nub panic Talking to Women about Videogames: Gears 3 isn't perfect? Talking to Women about Videogames: Sexy vs. sexist? Talking to Women about Videogames: What makes you want? TtWaV teaser: Sony's online sucks now? Talking to Women about Videogames: I'm not a real gamer? Talking to Women about Videogames: Fear for the future Talking to Women about Videogames: Going mainstream TtWaV teaser: Battlefield 3 Vs. Modern Warfare 3 Talking to Women about Videogames: You! Like what I like! TtWaV Teaser: Should Skyward Sword be rated M?

[Talking to Women about Videogames is a series where Jonathan Holmes talks to different people who are women about the biggest videogame news of the week for some reason.] Grand Theft Auto III was originally released in...


Battlefield 3: 'For God's sake, there's a nuke in Paris!'

Oct 11
// Jim Sterling
The ESRB rated Battlefield 3 last week, giving it an M-rating and revealing that players will end up shooting cops in one section of the game. While this brings up thoughts of Modern Warfare 2 and its infamous "No Russian" le...

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