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ESRB Ratings Unfairly Targeted? 53

John Callaham writes "The US video game ratings system created by the industry and the ESRB has come under attack in recent months, but is it really all that bad? FiringSquad decided to take an informal retail survey and compare how the ESRB rates games to how the movie and TV industry rates DVD releases." From the article: "One person who has been highly critical of the ESRB system is Leland Yee, the California Assemblyman who authored the bill that was signed into law last fall in that state that would ban the sales of certain games with violent content to minors (the law is currently not being enforced pending the conclusion of a court case started by the video/PC game industry). When the study of content descriptions in M-rated games was issued by Harvard earlier this month, Yee was quick to send out a press release ..."
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ESRB Ratings Unfairly Targeted?

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  • by Zediker ( 885207 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:17AM (#15212462)
    A rating system is only as good as those who enforce and follow it. So there is nothing wrong with the ESRB, its just that it isnt followed by purchasers and some stores just wont enforce it.
  • Naturally. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keyne9 ( 567528 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:23AM (#15212531)
    Of course it is being unfairly targetted. Any fool can see that the majority of DVD/movies have ratings that are both miniscule and lack of information--nevermind being practically hidden in the coloring of the packaging--whereas the ESRB labels are very informative.

    Even further, "enforcement" of this voluntary ratings system is coming under fire. Despite being at or above the movie system's "Gold Rating" for 'improper' purchases, critics are decrying the system as being fundamentally broken.

    Is this simply policy-making at its worst? Have the VG industries not paid their protection dues ("donations") lately?
  • Mandatory (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:27AM (#15212555)
    Excuse me, Mr Government? Would you mind watching my child while I go about my business for a couple decades? Thanks, you're a peach.
  • by SYSS Mouse ( 694626 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:29AM (#15212578) Homepage
    Although the label tag ("Blood and Gore") are informative, the rating itself is something basically nonsense.
    Give the classic Doom as an example:
    The GameBoy Advance version of Doom got a Teen instead of Mature rating on all other platforms because id Software changed the blood into green. Does that makes the game less violent? Certainly not, beside the image of the Pentagram.
  • Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <.Satanicpuppy. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:33AM (#15212625) Journal
    The basic MPAA movie rating system is a joke. You never see anything with the highest "public-consumption" rating (NC-17).

    Contrast that with ESRB...You see games rated M all the damn time. They've just flopped it in the other direction. M is the equivalent of NC-17, and AO is the equivalent of X, but you see parents buying their kids M rated games, who would collapse with heart failure if they found out their kid had an NC-17 movie in his posession.

    Just stupid. People need to get over themselves, and use the damn ratings accurately. I'm tired of listening to parents wigging out because they took their 6 year old to an R movie that should have been damn NC-17, and I'm dead tired of granny buying her 9 year old grandson a fricking M rated game, and then losing it because of how violent it is. It's supposed to be violent, and if they were decent parents, they wouldn't let their kids have access to that stuff in the first place.
  • Re:Mandatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:49AM (#15212808) Journal
    Excuse me, Mr. Citizen? Would you mind not giving my child ready access to content he is not emotionally mature enough to handle? Thanks, I appreciate it.

    The old saying "it takes a village to raise a child" bears repeating here. I'm not saying that it's anyone's job but the parents to raise a child, but you have to be clueless to think that we as a society have no influence on children. It's hard for a parent to raise their children when they've got hundreds of idiots standing on the sidelines second-guessing all their decisions and waiting til they turn their backs so they can undermine their parenting.
  • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BaronHethorSamedi ( 970820 ) <thebaronsamedi@gmail.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:02PM (#15212931)
    Reminds me of the lawsuit brought by that grandmother several months back over the whole "Hot Coffee" debacle. She apparently wasn't bothered by her grandson playing a game--clearly marked for the 17 and up crowd--that involved shooting cops and beating crack whores, but the moment she finds out there's a poorly-rendered naughty scene that can be viewed by any child enterprising enough to buy additional hardware and download hacks off the internet, there's grounds to seek a multimillion dollar judgment against Rock Star.

    Legislators complaining over ratings inadequacy, opportunistic adults seeking cash awards after the fact rather than reading the letter on the box--the fact is, criticizing the ESRB is a good way to move capital, be it economic or political.

    Brass tacks: the ratings do *exactly* what they're designed to do: they give any parent with a modicum of common sense the information needed to make an initial thumbs up/thumbs down call as to the appropriateness of a given title relative to the maturity of their individual child. Grandstanding house reps don't know how mature your child is, nor does the ESRB--that's mom and dad's responsibility. Of course, you don't have to go to Game Stop or the local cineplex to know that common sense isn't a legal prerequisite to having children, but so far neither the courts nor the legislature have done anything to remedy that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#15213129)

    How come nobody ever gets upset over the ratings on Movie trailers?
    Does anyone really *look* at what's in them?

    Nearly every trailer you'll see is rated "For All Audiences", yet if you look at them and ask yourself "Is this trailer appropriate to show before 'Bambi'?", you'd have to say "No way".
  • Re:Mandatory (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:22PM (#15213149)
    Excuse me, Mr. Citizen? Would you mind not giving my child ready access to content he is not emotionally mature enough to handle? Thanks, I appreciate it.

    Excuse me, Mr. Parent? Would you mind actually doing your parenting job and stop trying to get others to do it for you?
  • Re:Mandatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:56PM (#15213535)
    Please, stop with that 'not a parent crap.' My wife has kids from a previous marriage and feels the same as I do. I don't have kids but I do have parents. And when my mom was worried about the video games I was playing, she talked to me. She wanted to make sure that I understood whats ok in a game is not ok in real life. But she didn't even have to tell me; I already learned before that the difference between right and wrong.

    And I read the rest of your post. Its mindless junk. Let me clue you in on something they discovered in research; parents are the most influential people in a childs life. Their influence has the power to override anything that kids see on TV, in games, and from their friends.

    You've spoken as a parent with out of control children. If you need help raising your kids, ask your family (parents, siblings, aunts, etc.). Leave the rest of us out of it.
  • Re:Mandatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tetsujin28 ( 156148 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:21PM (#15217396) Homepage
    Spoken like someone who is not a parent.

    And like someone who didn't read the rest of my post.

    I'm a parent, I read your entire post, and it to me it reads like impractical and irresponsible whining.

    I don't expect others agree with my views of what is or is not appropriate for my child, so how on earth could I expect them to help limit his access to things I would consider inappropriate? Rather than deluding myself into thinking that the culture can be made "safe" for my child, I'm focusing my energies on raising a child who can make good moral choices while navigating the wide, weird -- and yes, sometimes dangerous -- media landscape we live in.

    If you live on an island in the ocean you can tell your kid to ignore the water, and ask everyone to keep your kid away from the shoreline, or you can teach your kid where the water is safe, where it's dangerous, and train him to be a good swimmer. I'm teaching my kid to swim.


I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright