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Video Game Ratings - What Are They & What Parents Need To Know

Video Game Ratings - What Are They & What Parents Need To Know
July 27, 2016

So what is in the box?  

What will my kids encounter when they play this video game?

Will this video game be bad for my child?

How do I keep my child my child from being desensitized to violence?

How old do I have to be to buy a rated M video game?

Are video games bad for you?

Here are a few things each and every parent needs to know when it comes to video game ratings...

The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, makes it so parents can help their kids with the content they may be exposed to when purchasing or playing video games.  Think of it as a ratings system just like the movies have via the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA.



The ESRB is a self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA). The major video game manufacturers created this board after concerned groups in the mid-90s had requested there be a ratings systems in place for video games so parents could monitor the content in these games.  Currently all major gaming companies which produce video games for the consumer market have to submit their new game platforms up for review by the ESRB, which rates over 1,000 different new video games each and every year.

In order to rate a video game, the ESRB examines such things as the amount of violence, sex, controversial language, and substance abuse found in a game. Based on its developed guidelines, the ESRB then gives an age recommendation and content descriptor to each game submitted.

The following are the rating symbols currently in use, according to the ESRB Web site. These ratings for video games should be review by parents when they purchase a video game to ensure they know the content of it, and what their children will be exposed to when playing the video game:

Early Childhood (EC)
Content should be suitable for children 3 years and older and contain no objectionable material.


Everyone (E)
Content suitable for persons ages 6 and older. The game may contain minimal violence and some "comic mischief."


Teen (T)
Content suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Content is more violent than (E) rating and contains mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.


Mature (M)
Content suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Content definitely has more mature sexual themes, intense violence and stronger language.


Adults Only (AO)
Content suitable only for adults and may contain graphic sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.


Rating Pending (RP)
Game has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting a final rating.

If you are looking for more information and a detailed look at how the ratings get their classifications AND what the content descriptors are classified as; CLICK HERE 

Be smart when it comes to knowing what video game content your child is being exposed to.  Ask yourself; 'is this video game good for my child' and 'is my child old enough for this video game'--?  Questions like these are answered by the ERSB ratings system and will help you as a parent navigate through the gray area of video games and ratings.

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