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News Archive

Click on the links below to view the latest ESRB news announcements and press releases.

For all press inquiries and/or requests for ESRB graphics and content, please contact us via e-mail at: ESRB (at) zebrapartners . net.

2005 Press Releases, Public Statements and Articles

2004 Press Releases, Public Statements and Articles

2003 Press Releases, Public Statements and Articles

2002 Press Releases, Public Statements and Articles

Statement from Patricia E. Vance about the New York City Council Investigation (December 20th, 2004)

"The ESRB ratings are designed to provide information about computer and video game content so that parents can select appropriate games for their families. We look forward to working with retailers, software publishers and the New York City Council and Mayor's office to ensure that parents are aware of the rating system. Since parents are involved in the purchase of computer and video games 83% of the time, according to a Federal Trade Commission report published in September 2000, such a coordinated effort could have significant impact in helping ensure that inappropriate games stay out of the hands of our children."

Click here to read Patricia Vance's complete statement about the New York City Council Investigation.

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ESRB Statement on the MediaWise Video Game Report Card (November 23rd, 2004)

The National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) report card does a grave disservice to America's parents by suggesting that they cannot trust ESRB ratings. The fact is that a new comprehensive study conducted on the reliability of the video game rating system found that parents agree with ESRB 83% of the time.

If NIMF were forthcoming, it would acknowledge that its own ratings are in sync with ESRB's virtually all of the time. Yet another source, the Kaiser Family Foundation Research, recently reported that ESRB ratings are considered to be the most useful of all media ratings. We proudly and confidently stand behind the ratings we issue and believe parents can and should trust them.

As Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) said, "The ratings system makes it crystal clear whether or not the content of the video game is appropriate for young children. With such a vast array of games available, parents will be able to find a suitable gift for all the kids on their list with just a pause to check the ratings."

Further, we reject the report card's arbitrary grade regarding ESRB's educational programs. NIMF's methodology was flawed and it asked the wrong question. Here's the fact about educational programs: over 15,000 stores have ESRB's "OK To Play?" signage in their stores at the point of sale to help educate and remind consumers about the ratings when shopping for games. In short, in more and more locations, the information about game ratings is there if parents choose to use it.

Following are the facts about ESRB's efforts to educate parents and other consumers:

  • In 2003, ESRB launched the "Ok To Play? - Check The Ratings" campaign, to increase awareness and use of the rating system utilizing print and online Public Service Announcement (PSA) ads, in-store signage for retailers, newspaper inserts, the Internet and other consumer marketing channels.

  • To date, the campaign has generated well over one billion consumer impressions.

  • In the last year 14 national retailers in the US, representing approximately 90% of game sales, have re-launched their rating awareness programs.

  • 13 of the 14 national retailers are using the "Ok To Play?" branded in-store signage.

  • Retailers also provide ESRB training materials to their sales associates and cashiers and include rating information in their Sunday newspaper circulars and other consumer marketing vehicles.

  • PSA print ads have been published in 5 of the top 10 consumer magazines including TV Guide, Better Homes and Garden, Good Housekeeping, as well as other consumer and game enthusiast publications including Entertainment Weekly, Disney Adventures, PlayStation Magazine, Computer Gaming World, EGM, etc.

  • Numerous consumer websites support the ESRB's education outreach program by placing PSA banner ads in rotation, linking to ESRB's website (www.ESRB.org) and/or include information about the rating system on their website.

Given the level of agreement and support from parents, legislators, and groups like the NIMF, it is impossible to understand how the grades and information presented in the Video Game Report Card can be construed as helpful or accurate with respect to the ESRB ratings for computer and video games.

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New Study Shows Parents Overwhelmingly Agree with Video Game Ratings (November 22nd, 2004)

(NEW YORK)-A study released today found that the vast majority of American parents agree with the ratings assigned to computer and video games by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The study, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, found that parents agree with ESRB ratings 83% of the time.

"The study released today asked parents if they agree with ESRB ratings after seeing the actual games themselves and the results are simple and clear. As Peter D. Hart Research concluded, 'Parents find computer and video game ratings to be highly accurate, '" said Patricia E. Vance, president of the ESRB. "The results are especially noteworthy and credible because unlike academic studies that rely on the personal opinions of the researchers, this one gets to the heart of the matter by gathering information directly from those people for whom ratings matter the most - parents."

The study showed 401 randomly selected parents a compilation of video footage from 80 popular computer and video games rated within the prior twelve months. Respondents were asked to assign the ESRB rating they felt was most appropriate and then were told what rating the ESRB actually assigned the game. Parents were asked to describe the ESRB rating as "about right," "too strict," or "too lenient." Interviews were conducted at shopping malls in ten different regions of the United States, in order to ensure geographic diversity reflected in the results.

To read further about this study, click here .

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Canadian Retailers and Video Gaming Industry Launch National Ratings Education and Enforcement Program (October 14th, 2004)

Canadian retailers and the computer and video game industry today announced the launch of a new countrywide "Commitment to Parents" initiative beginning this holiday season to help parents ensure the games they buy for their children are appropriate for their households.

Commitment to Parents is an industry-led voluntary initiative designed to limit the sale or rental of games to children that are meant for older teenagers and adults. It achieves this through a combination of educating consumers about the video game rating system and point-of-purchase controls.

Today's announcement was made by Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESA Canada) and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) at news conferences in Winnipeg, Halifax and Toronto. The program has been in operation in British Columbia since 2001.

Participating retailers have agreed not to sell or rent games rated "M" (Mature) to customers under the age of 17 or games rated "AO" (Adults Only) to customers under the age of 18. These retailers are also displaying store signs which advise customers of their participation in the program and promote awareness and understanding of the ESRB rating system.

"This initiative is an extension of retailers' commitment to customer service," said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO of Retail Council of Canada. "When parents enter a participating retail store they can feel confident that the retailer is working on their behalf to ensure the video games their children buy or rent are suitable for their age."

Commitment to Parents participating retailers to date include: Hudson's Bay Company retail outlets the Bay and Zellers, Best Buy, Blockbuster Canada, EB Games, Future Shop, RadioShack, Rogers Video, Toys 'R' Us, and Walmart.

To read more about this initiative, click here .

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Testimony of Patricia E. Vance before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (September 28, 2004)

Click here to read Patricia Vance's (ESRB's President) complete written testimony at the Committee's hearing on the effectiveness of media ratings.

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ESRB Names Harry Valetk New Privacy Online Program Director (August 10th, 2004)

The Entertainment Software Rating Board announced today that privacy expert Harry Valetk has been appointed as the new Director of its Privacy Online certification program.

"Harry has made technology-driven privacy the calling card of his professional career and his experience will be a real asset to the ESRB and the industry we serve," said ESRB president Patricia Vance. "In particular, Harry's expertise and experience will help ESRB and the 34 companies currently participating in the program maintain the highest standards in protecting children's privacy on the Internet."

Most recently, Valetk served as the chief legal officer for WiredSafety.org, one of the world's leading Internet safety advocacy and education organizations. At WiredSafety.org, he worked to help parents, teachers, policy makers, and law enforcement officials explore new and innovative ways of keeping the Internet community safe. Valetk has authored several articles regarding Internet safety, identity theft, privacy protection, spam, cyberstalking, and child pornography laws. His credits also include numerous published articles in The Stanford Law School, the New York Law Journal, Law.com, Gigalaw.com and Univision Online. He is currently co-editing a book on Internet safety concerns.

"I'm looking forward to helping ESRB Privacy Online achieve its important mission to ensure that Web consumers are informed about a website's information collection practices and given control over how their personal information is used," said Valetk.

In addition to his experience as an author, editor and former chief legal officer for WiredSafety.org, Valetk has worked on a broad spectrum of issues including identity protection, financial privacy, international commerce and labor. He taught effective negotiation and conflict resolution techniques at New York University and coordinated a seminar for Columbia University entitled, "Representing Dotcoms." He is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Hispanic Council of International Relations and the Internet Societal Discussion Forum on Privacy and Children on the Internet. Mr. Valetk holds a B.A. from Bernard M. Baruch College and received his law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

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Patricia Vance takes her turn on GameDaily (April 19th, 2004)

Patricia Vance, President - ESRB, takes "Her Turn" in GameDaily on April 19, 2004 to provide a summary of the ESRB and the steps taken to inform parents and others about the rating system and working with retail and media partners.

To learn more about ESRB's mission, click here to read the complete GameDaily article.

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Testimony of Randolph Walker before the Washington House of Representatives' Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Law (January 29th, 2004)

Click here to read Randolph Walker's (ESRB's Director of Marketing) complete written testimony at the Committee's hearing on HB 2595 proposed by Representative Mary Lou Dickerson.

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Study Shows Parents Approve of Video Game Ratings (December 11th, 2003)

An independent study released today found that parents overwhelmingly approve of the ratings assigned to computer and video games. The study, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, was commissioned by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

"Parents find computer and video game ratings to be highly accurate," wrote Hart Research in a memorandum summarizing the results. "The tastes and values of ESRB raters consistently and reliably match those of American parents."

The study showed 400 randomly selected parents footage from popular computer and video games. Respondents were then asked if they considered the actual ESRB rating "about right," "too strict," or "too lenient." Interviews were conducted at ten shopping malls in different regions of the United States, in order to ensure geographic diversity.

For more info regarding this study, click here .

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Entertainment Software Rating Board Helps Parents Decide If Computer and Video Games Are "OK to Play?" (October 2nd, 2003)

Just in time for the Holiday shopping season, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) launched a consumer print ad campaign featuring the new slogan "OK to Play?" The campaign, which targeted parents of children who play video games, aimed to raise consumer awareness and increase use of the ESRB rating system. ESRB ratings appear on the front and back of all computer and video game boxes.

To read further about this program, click here .

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Entertainment Software Rating Board Adds Four Content Descriptors to Rating System and Unveils New Game Box Labels (June 26th, 2003)

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) announced advances to the computer and video game rating system designed to provide parents and other consumers with a new and unprecedented level of detail about game content.

The changes included the addition of four new ESRB content descriptors-short, standardized phrases printed on the back of game boxes that alert consumers to content elements that may be of interest or concern-and new, bolder labels intended to draw consumer attention to those content descriptors. The rating system changes were developed in consultation with experts from both inside and outside the interactive entertainment software industry, including child development experts and family advocates.

For more info regarding these new changes, click here .

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Kohl, Lieberman Commend New Voluntary Computer and Video Game Ratings Improvements (June 26th, 2003)

(WASHINGTON) U.S. Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today commended the new, voluntary computer and video game ratings improvements announced by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to give parents and retailers more information about violent content of games. The new guidelines include more precise descriptions to alert consumers to violent content - distinguishing between cartoon and more graphic violence — and bolder labels to make it easier for consumers to determine whether games are appropriate to sell to and be used by children under 17.

"The changes announced today will help parents make more informed decisions when purchasing games for their children. And we are hopeful that the addition of specific age guidelines to the rating icons will make it easier for retailers to enforce the rating system, as many have committed to do but which few are doing reliably," Kohl said. "It's important that parents check the rating information on every box before bringing computer and video games home to their families. Although the ESRB rating system contains the most information of any rating system in the entertainment industry, it can only be effective if retailers recognize and enforce it and parents understand and use it."

"I have always said the ESRB system was the best rating system in the entertainment media and these changes will make it even better - more informative, more precise and more enforceable for retailers," Lieberman said. "I appreciate the ESRB's ongoing commitment to helping parents make smart choices for their kids. I hope parents will return the favor by making better use of these better ratings, for in the end they have the primary responsibility to protect their kids from potentially harmful games. And I hope retailers will finally accept their responsibility to help parents do that job and commit as an industry to stop selling adult-rated games to kids."

For nearly eight years, Lieberman and Kohl have been working with the video and computer game industry to help keep violent, graphic and adult videos out of the hands of kids. At their insistence, the video game industry has developed entertainment's best rating system, has applied that rating system uniformly to the packaging of every video game sold in stores and has promulgated aggressive anti-targeting provisions aimed at keeping the advertisement of violent, Mature-rated games away from children.

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Entertainment Software Rating Board Names Patricia E. Vance President (October 29th, 2002)

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the nation's non-profit entertainment software rating body, announced today that interactive media veteran Patricia E. Vance has been appointed its president.

"We are very fortunate to have Pat at the helm of the ESRB," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. IDSA established the ESRB nine years ago to generate independent ratings on the age appropriateness and content o f the more than 1,000 computer, video and Internet games released annually. "Pat has an exceptional background in interactive media and business management, and that experience will be a real asset to the ESRB as it continues its important work of ensuring that consumers have the information they need about the content of the games they play."

To read the complete press release, click here .

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