by, 09-02-2010 at 10:27 AM (2278 Views)
Growing up a gamer, I don’t remember there being an ESRB. As a parent and well informed gamer, it’s easy for me to figure out what titles are appropriate for my daughter to play, regardless of the ESRB rating. A coworker recently asked me a few questions on specific titles and I realized that the ESRB ratings are too vague.
For example: if Halo 3’s single player campaign were to be recorded and released as a movie, it would probably be rated PG or worse case scenario PG-13. I’ve played Halo 3 and ODST and both those games have a modest amount of graphic violence, I’m not sure I remember any foul language an zero sex or drug references. Gears of War 2 on the other hand, has graphic depictions of violence (exploding heads, curb stomps, etc.) and constant use of foul language. Both of these games have received an M-rating.
So how does a non-gamer parent figure out what’s appropriate for his/her kid? Well in the case of my co-worker, he simply will not buy any M-rated games for his kid. Other parents completely ignore the ESRB ratings altogether. Both options are a disservice to the gaming industry, the consumer and ultimately the gamer.
The industry would serve itself best by re-addressing the rating system and clarifying the ratings to better serve parents. Not only would this benefit sales, it would prevent the kind of public outcry that tends to follow the release of the more controversial titles (think Grand Theft Auto). My concern is that as gaming continues to venture into the mainstream pop culture, our governments will politicize the issue and we’ll start seeing pressure on developers and publishers which would result in stifling creativity and censorship of the media.