Friday, February 17, 2012

You're Missing The Point of the ESRB!

The Family Practice News (I know; it sounds like a trustworthy publication) is telling parents to disregard the ESRB. Throw it's ratings out the window! You don't need them! Why? Because they are a part of the gaming industry, employed by people with no training in child psychology, and do not play the games before making their decisions. Instead you should use Commonsense Media, because they come from parents. Parents that care. Because the ESRB is evil and doesn't care about your kids!

I took a look at the Commonsense website. Apparently they list Beauty & The Beast, the Academy Award winning DISNEY movie as too sexy for kids to watch. Take that as you wish.

Now, I'll agree with the fact that the ESRB's age system in regards to ratings is a bit arbitrary and does mimic the MPAA's version. And the reason the ESRB was created was so that video games didn't become regulated by the government, as with what happened with the movies and the MPAA. The gaming industry knew it needed to create a system, and took it upon themselves.

And yes it's true, the ESRB doesn't get a chance to play the games. However, their sample is more then a few minutes of game footage. In most cases, they will receive upwards of 10 hours of both cut-scenes and game-play. Gaming developers are required to list every possible aspect of the game that would determine their rating in writing. If they miss out on something, they can get a pretty big hefty fine from the ESRB.

Many parents like the system as it is. In fact, the ESRB talks about it on their website and it got an approval from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

One thing the article overlooks is the amount of detail that is given for each rating, and tag on the back of the game box. It lists exactly what is in the game. Sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, nudity, swearing, guns, girls, ammo, adult situations...you name it! With the MPAA you get a very generic idea of what type of content is in the film. With the ESRB, they list it all out for you! That's the difference and that's why the system is still working. And a good crutch for retailers. "Well I didn't know what content was in the game." "Ma'am, it's on the box. Right there. Where it says 'Contains this, this, this, and that.' "

I don't understand this need to constantly bash media for the world's problems. It's your fault for being a bad parent. Admit to it, fix it, and stop blaming others for your mistakes.

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