entertainment software manufacturers have adopted the ESRB (Entertainment
Software Rating Board) system for rating their products. Since its
inception in September 1994, the ERSB has rated thousands of software
titles. Much like music labeling, which prints ratings on the packaging,
entertainment software rating symbols are clearly printed on the front of
the software product’s packaging with more detailed content-oriented
information printed on the back. This rating system is intended to inform
the consumer of the general content and the age appropriateness of the
entertainment software product.
General Information ESRB's
software ratings are categorized first by age. Within each age group the
rating is categorized further based on levels of violence, nudity and
offensive language. For more information about rating entertainment
software, visit the Wikipedia ESRB
Web page. Here you can view a chart with ratings symbols, read
definitions of the ratings, and peruse a list of terms used to describe
the software ratings.
Rating Board (ESRB) According to the Entertainment
Software Rating Board, "The
ESRB is an independent, self-regulatory entity that provides comprehensive
support services to companies in the interactive entertainment software
industry." Read more about the ESRB, their goals, methods, rating
system, and the people who rate the software at www.esrb.org.
How effective and accepted are the ESRB ratings? To find out, read the
testimony entitled "Effectiveness
of Media Rating Systems" by Dr. Kim Thompson at a Science,
Technology, and Space Hearing on September 28, 2004. You can learn
about the criteria that must be met, in order for an entertainment
software product to be rated in a specific category, by visiting this
Web page. Read about how the government and the entertainment
software industry are working together to regulate software content at www.ftc.gov/opa/2001/04/esrb.htm.
Additional Links What
does the future hold for the software rating system? Some people think
that the Internet will be the next battleground for free speech, and they
perceive software rating as a step toward computer censorship. Visit this
MIT page to read a variety of articles about labeling, rating, and
filtering, and their possible affects on free speech. The ICRA (Internet
Content Rating Association) is an organization that is developing a
universal system for rating the content of Web sites. You can visit the
ICRA’s site at www.icra.org.