Game Eaters

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How the ESRB can hurt gaming.

I picked up the new GameInformer of the floor at the office today (which is typically where we keep our magazines) and I noticed an interview with Patricia Vance, President of the ESRB. In it she said:

[O]ur ratings are more conservative than movies and television. Yet, we're not at a point where we can be comfortable to make them more lenient. One of the things we do every year is we go out and test our ratings assignments with parents. We find that the way we assign our ratings is very in line with mainstream American tastes. I don't think we're in a position to adjust that at all based on that research.

It's at moments like these I wonder if I'm just a simple creature. Maybe this proves I'm a naive hippy with no sense of political give-and-take, but I found myself imagining the following conversation...

ME: Hey ESRB! Why do you perpetuate the double-standards held by the game-illiterate mainstream? Aren't you supposed to be on our side?

ESRB: We aren't a public service, duh. If our ratings help stifle the artistic growth of the industry by forcing the market to conform to a conservative world-view that's your problem, not ours.

ME: Golly! Thanks ESRB! I'll never complain again when you slap an AO rating on a game with PG-13 sex!

ESRB: No problem, kiddo. Check back with us in 20 years. By then the mainstream might be on your side.

ME: Will do! Let's just hope the misconceptions about games endorsed and officialized by your current rating system don't shape anyone's perception over the next two decades.

ESRB: *sigh* Silly boy. We just reflect culture. We don't influence it.

ME: I guess you're right. How could I ever doubt you, ESRB!


  • This deserves a follow-up comparing the ratings of games in the US and Europe. I've been meaning to write that for some time...

    By Blogger Clara, at 7:55 AM  

  • Aren't you supposed to be on vacation in Japan?

    By Blogger Nick, at 11:25 AM  

  • Here's a follow up topic for ya:

    What if The ERSB adopted the exact identical ratings system that the MPAA has?

    It is more familiar. It is totally intuitive to most. "R-Rated" language is not just used to reflect movie language - it can pertain to any situation - real, or within a medium.

    Easier to understand. A more ominous parallel. I think it would work great.


    By Blogger Yooka the Medic, at 6:58 PM  

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