ESRB Announces New Video Game Rating Summaries

November 12, 2008

New Resource Provides Parents with More Detailed Information on Game Content Just in Time for the Holiday Shopping Season

NEW YORK – The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games, today announced the availability of “rating summaries,” a new, supplementary source of information about game content that parents can use when considering which games to purchase for their children this holiday season and beyond. The new rating summaries will be accessible when searching for rating information via the ESRB website at www.esrb.org, its rating search widget, and a new mobile website at m.esrb.org.

“Research shows that the vast majority of parents who purchase games for their kids are aware of and regularly check ESRB ratings, but parents can always use more help when making choices as to which games are right for their children,” said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB. “With our new rating summaries, which provide exclusive and unprecedented insight into the nature of the content that triggered a given rating assignment, parents will be that much more empowered in making those choices.”

The new rating summaries explain in objective terms the context and relevant content that factored into a game’s ESRB rating assignment. Effective today, the ESRB will provide rating summaries for all video games rated since July 1, 2008, along with the rating category and content descriptors, when searching for rating information on the ESRB website and via the ESRB rating search widget. Rating summaries are also accessible from a new mobile website at m.esrb.org, which allows consumers when shopping for games to search game titles on their mobile devices right at the point of purchase. Additionally, parents can receive a bi-weekly list of recently rated titles customized to their preference of game platform and rating categories, complete with rating summaries, by signing up for ParenTools, the ESRB’s new e-newsletter, at www.esrb.org/parentools.

The National Institute on Media and the Family, which has at times been critical of the ESRB ratings, joined with ESRB for the announcement of the new rating summaries.

“Video games can be entertaining for children, but parents need to be cognizant that there are some games that are neither created nor intended for children. ESRB ratings provide a guide that parents can and should use to determine whether a game is one they deem appropriate for their child,” said Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family. “The ESRB’s rating summaries go even further, shedding greater light on a game’s rating and giving parents additional detailed information to make healthier gaming decisions. The Institute advises parents to ‘watch what your kids watch,’ and the ESRB’s new rating summaries help parents make those informed choices for their children. I commend the ESRB for taking this step to serve the needs of parents.”

[See attached for additional quotes from other notable and authoritative sources with regard to the ESRB’s new rating summaries.]

According to a survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in March 2008, 86 percent of parents with children who play video games are aware of the rating system and 78 percent say they regularly check the rating before buying computer and video games for their children. An April 2007 survey by the Federal Trade Commission reported that 89 percent of parents say they are involved in the purchase or rental of a video game for their child.

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 over 30 content descriptors, found next to the rating category on the back of game packages, which describe in general terms content in the game that may be of interest or concern to parents or may have triggered a rating category, including violence, sexual content, language, use or depiction of controlled substances, and gambling.

– 30 –

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. Visit www.esrb.org for more information.


Eliot Mizrachi, ESRB
[email protected]

Jess Dillman
[email protected]


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

“This new supplement to the ratings is a real gift for parents as we head into this holiday season. Parents need all the information they can get to make more informed decisions about what’s appropriate for their children. These new rating summaries offer more helpful information than ever before to help parents to get involved and get informed.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

“For well over a decade I have called upon the video game industry to inform consumers about the content in video games so they could make the right choices for their children. One result was the creation of the ESRB rating system, which provides useful guidance to parents about game content and age-appropriateness. The ESRB has now taken consumer education one step further with their new rating summaries, which provide a greater level of detail about game content to help parents be even more prepared to make informed game selections for their children. I applaud the ESRB for taking this proactive step to inform video game consumers.”

PTA national president Jan Harp Domene

“The more information parents have at their disposal, the better they are able to decide whether a particular game is one that they deem suitable for their child. That’s why PTA encourages parents to take advantage of the many tools and resources provided by ESRB, including the new rating summaries, to ensure that their children are playing age- appropriate games. We commend the ESRB for their new rating summaries, which go even further to provide more detail about game content so that parents can make informed, sensible choices for their children.”

Liz Thompson, Parent and Blogger, ThisFullHouse.com

“As a mom of four young gamers, I rely on the ESRB ratings and content descriptors to help me determine which games are a good fit for my family. The new rating summaries will be an even greater help by providing additional information that reveals more about why specific games received the rating they did. As a parent they will better allow me to keep an eye out for the types of content that I would prefer my kids not be exposed to.”