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ESRB explains why it doesn’t play the games it rates

Saturday, 5th February 2011 18:59 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

ESRB representative Eliot Mizrachi has shed some light on how ratings are handed out to videogames, and it has nothing to do with the body playing the games and experiencing the content for themselves.

According to Mizrachi, there are many reason why the ESRB doesn’t play the games it’s rating, and one of the most obvious reason has to do with time constraints.

“When games are submitted to ESRB for rating they may not have been finalized or fully tested yet,” he told IGN. “As a consequence, these games may still be buggy, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a rater to play the game from start to finish.

“Secondly, we assign over a thousand ratings each year and many games can take 50 plus hours to play through. So it’d be extremely time-consuming. More importantly though, it’s crucial that the raters see all of a game’s ‘pertinent content’ which includes not just the obvious (the game’s context, missions, storylines, reward system, etc.), but also its most intense content.

“Having raters play the game — and make their own choices as they do so — would not guarantee that they see everything they need to in order to assign a rating.”

Mizrachi also said the ESRB requires publishers to sign a contract regarding submitted content, which “empowers ESRB to enforce its rating system, including the ability to fine publishers if it’s determined that they failed to disclose content during the rating process.”

“If a rating does have to be changed because previously undisclosed content is discovered, we can not only fine a company up to $1 million, but more significantly require re-labeling of a product that’s already manufactured and shipped, or even recalling it — either of which can be extremely costly and is a significant disincentive for a publisher to not fully disclose their content.”

Hot Coffee anyone?

Mizrachi pointed out that should anyone have questions regarding the rating process, there’s an FAQ on the ESRB’s official website.

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21 Comments

  1. 2plus2equals5

    Wait… WHAT?
    This is a FRAUD!
    I can say anything of pegi, but they play games they rate!
    I really hope there’ll be legal consequences.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    No there is not difference between pegi and ESRB is that ESRB is a volunteer rating system from the game industry. This is to fight the government stepping in and doing the ratings themselves but since we have 1st Amendment the government can’t do that.

    ESRB is for parents to know what their kid is playing, not like parents actually look and then they of course whine about their 10 year old playing GTA.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight

    Also I see nothing wrong with this the developer should put out an outline of the game and its content for the rater to see vs playing the game. If the developer messes up and forgot to mention that there is content that should be M or adult then they should be fined and whatever else.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Hunam

    The thing is, if you guys did ratify a ratings system for games they would be protected from political attacks. In the UK when Manhunt hit BBFC said they rated it 18, by law it can only be played by 18+ and if someone’s kid has the game the parent is responsible for it, not the people who made the game.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. monu-mental

    Well if that’s the case, EA needs to be fined $1 Million plus have MOH recalled or relabeled, since it’s ladened with F-bombs but yet is rated Teens – to – Adults….

    Big deception there……

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight

    @5

    http://www.medalofhonor.com/

    Uh its rated M so it is allowed to F bombs. I assume you are not in the US or Canada where ESRB does the ratings, if that is the case blame whoever does the ratings in your country.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Hunam

    I forgot America still gets upset about swearing.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    @7

    Yep our country is backwards blame out Puritan basis. Get mad at all the sex and swearing but let the violence pass right by.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. freedoms_stain

    “F-bombs”, seriously pathetic turn of phrase. The word is fuck people and we got no language filters here.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. OrbitMonkey

    People should use *frell* instead…

    I miss Farscape :(

    #10 4 years ago
  11. chronoss2

    I never consider this classification, mostly in the 90′s cause the games were not violent and they only rated the difficulty. Now, i’m adult so i care even less :)

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Doz12

    does ratings even matter? the last two cods have been 8′s yet how many people complain that there are too many whiny kids playing the game? Myself included :D

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Doz12

    meant 18′s not 8′s lol

    #13 4 years ago
  14. 2plus2equals5

    I think you missed the point.
    What is the reason of existence of the ersb? If they don’t evaluate games what are they doing?
    They decide the destiny of a game based on what?
    They make money without working!
    Maybe you don’t know the difference between iphone’s apps and ps minis. Apps are cheaper than minis because developers don’t pay the rating! Yes, minis’ developers pay THOUSANDS €/$ for the rating. This is the reason why apps are cheaper than minis, and now you are telling me that ersb don’ play games? FRAUD!

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Doz12

    ^ i think you’ve missed the point.
    they dont need to evaluate the games because if the publisher doesn’t evaluate the games properly then they get fined a lot more money then they spent on getting the rating.

    Plus a game is not a movie, sit down and watch it for 2/3 hours and you know everything about the movie, games you may need somewhere nearer 00 hours to know everything its impossible!

    Im guessing that to release a game in amercia you need the ERSB rating?

    #15 4 years ago
  16. monu-mental

    @5, I live in the USVI – It’s US: http://www.usvitourism.vi/.

    Anyway, I think MOH really needs to be relabeled and EA fined because the ratings are deceptive. And don’t send me this link:

    http://www.medalofhonor.com/ – it’s EA’s link – they’ll say anything…

    But the game has massive F-bombs in there but yet they rate it Teens-To-Adults? I regretted my purchase. At least create an option, like Black Ops did, to remove all the vulgarity….the words – and even some gore….

    I’ll never buy another MOH for that reason…..They should really be fined.

    Also, for those saying using F-bombs is appropriate in games, I do not disagree with because certain plots call for it…. But the developers should at least creative an option, and I’m happy Treyarch took that route with Black Ops….

    Remember, sometimes there are kids running around when playing, and quite frankly, many kids play those games too…..No parent would like to pass around the house and all he or she hears is F-this, F-that in a GAME their kid’s supposed to be enjoying…

    #16 4 years ago
  17. monu-mental

    sorry for the typos – no edit here….

    #17 4 years ago
  18. 2plus2equals5

    @15: I don’t understand, if someone choose a job then he have to do it no matter the time.
    Ok if a developer’s description isn’t real he’ll pay money, but how many children will see the controversial content in the meantime? So ersb don’t protect children and don’t evaluate games.
    I repeat, what’s the reason of the ersb? They only take money.

    If i’m not wrong in america there’s ersb and in europe there’s pegi and both are mandatary.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Doz12

    @18 yes maybe the ERSB should play some of the games and i get your point but if ERSB had to pay more people to check all games thoroughly then the cost to get ERSB to check your game would increase, hence game cost would increase!

    The way ERSB works to keep publishers truthful is to have the power to fine massive amounts of money hence they keep their costs down and game publishers costs. ERSB is only a guide for parents as shown by some parents not taking any notice of PEGI/ERSB which is totally up to them.

    If its mandatory then i think its more of a licence to sell a game ao if a game is too violent or takes something to far it can be banned.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Phoenixblight

    @16

    Again thats not EA fault but who ever handles ratings in your country. Blame them obviously they don’t have a system that has a contract with the industry with what it can and cant do or your country doesn’t care about cussing or gore. Take your pick.

    @19

    No game is Banned in the US what happens is the ESRB fines them and brings them to court just look at Hot Coffee. Rockstar pulled all those games back and remade without the Hot coffee. If a game doesn’t have a rating the retailer typically doesn’t sell the game.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Uncontested

    The game is rated MATURE (17+) Monu-Mental Which is the same thing as being rated “R” like a Movie now shut the fuck up you uptight twit.

    #21 4 years ago

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