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ESRB ratings are ratings, much like motion picture ratings, assigned to all interactive video game and software titles. ESRB ratings are handed down by the Entertainment Software Rating Board for the purpose of helping parents identify the age appropriateness of a video or computer game. Though ESRB ratings are subjective, the process for assigning a rating is pretty thorough.
Though software publishers are not required to obtain ESRB ratings, most titles sold in retail stores throughout the United States and Canada have an assigned ESRB rating. The process for obtaining a rating begins with a submission of information regarding the content of a game. The publisher submits a questionnaire and other material such as scripts, screenshots, and frequently beta versions of the game that raters use to determine which rating to assign. ESRB ratings are based on the occurrence of specific content including language, violence, sex, drug use, and gambling.
The current ESRB ratings are as follows:
ESRB ratings are designed to help parents be selective about the video and computer games they allow their children to play. By further examining the ESRB rating box located on the game’s packaging, consumers will find a brief description of the content that led to the game’s final rating. By using ESRB ratings as a guideline to age appropriateness, parents can have more control over what their children play. However, it should be noted that this is not a foolproof system and parents are still responsible for previewing any game that may concern them before their child plays.