Ratings Increasingly and Overwhelmingly Used to Guide Game Purchase
(March 29th, 2006)
(NEW YORK) - National research measuring parental awareness and use
of the ratings for computer and video games shows that 83% of American
parents of children who play video games are aware of the ESRB ratings,
and 74% use them regularly when buying games for their families according
to a study commissioned annually by the Entertainment Software Rating
Board (ESRB). Both figures are higher than those measured in the same
study in 2005, when awareness and use were at 78% and 70% respectively
(see historical chart below). The study was conducted by Peter D. Hart
Research Associates in early March, and surveyed over 500 parents of
children age 3 to 17 that play video games.
“It’s been shown that nine times out of ten, a parent is
involved in the purchase of a video game, so we’re very pleased
to find that more and more parents are using the ratings to help them
make informed choices about the games they bring home for their children,”
said ESRB president Patricia Vance. “Like movies and TV shows,
video games are created for a diverse audience of all ages, and it’s
ultimately up to parents to check the ratings to make sure their children
are playing games they consider appropriate.”
The study also revealed that an increasing number of parents are using
the ratings to restrict their children from playing games rated M (Mature).
A majority of those surveyed (53%) said they “never” allow
their children to play M-rated computer and video games, while 41% said
they “sometimes” do. The M (Mature) rating is assigned by
the ESRB to indicate that a game may be suitable for ages 17 and older.
Other findings include:
94% said the ratings are very helpful (72%) or somewhat helpful
91% are confident that ratings accurately describe a game’s
72% said that the rating is the most important (31%) or a very important
consideration (41%) when deciding whether or not to purchase a game
91% say their trust in the ESRB ratings has either stayed the same
(76%) or increased (15%) in the past year
More than half said they check content descriptors “every
time” (35%) or “most of the time” (16%)
"Parental confidence in the ESRB ratings has never been greater
than what we see in this study," said Jay Campbell of Peter D.
Hart Research Associates. "The number of parents nationwide that
are aware of the ESRB ratings and using them regularly when choosing
games for their families continues to grow with each year. In fact,
not only are more parents using the ratings, they are using them more
often than ever before."
“We are very encouraged that as awareness and use among parents
continue to rise to historic levels, trust in the ratings as a reliable
source for determining which games are appropriate for their families
continues to increase, as well,” Vance added.
The ESRB rating system includes six age-based rating categories: EC
(Early Childhood) for ages 3+, E (Everyone) for ages 6+, E10+ (Everyone
10 and older), T (Teen) for ages 13+, M (Mature) for ages 17+, and AO
(Adults Only) which indicates that the game should only be played by
adults age 18 and older. The rating category is found on the front of
virtually every game sold at retail in the U.S. The rating system also
includes 32 content descriptors, found next to the rating category on
the back of game packages, which describe content in the game that may
be of interest or concern to parents, including violence, sexual content,
language, use of controlled substances, and gambling.
HISTORICAL AWARENESS AND USE OF ESRB RATINGS AMONG PARENTS
About Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by
the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently assigns
computer and video game content ratings, enforces advertising guidelines,
and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive
entertainment software industry.