Entertainment Software Rating Board

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that applies and enforces ratings, advertising guidelines, and online privacy principles for video games in the United States. It was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association. By early 2003, it had rated more than 8,000 titles submitted by 350 publishers. The ESRB may promote media restriction.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Symbols and Meanings
3 Content Descriptors
4 The Process
5 See also
6 External Links


The ESRB applies ratings to video games based on their content. Their aim is to aid consumers in determining a game's content and suitability. A game's rating is displayed on its box, in ads and game web sites.

The rating has two parts: rating symbols and content descriptors. The rating symbols are found in the lower right and the lower left hand corner on the front of the box. They suggest what age group the game is best suited for. The content descriptors are found on the lower left or right hand corner on the back of the box. They describe particular content elements that may be of interest or concern.

Symbols and Meanings

The symbols the ESRB uses are stylized depictions of alphabetical letters meant to convey at a glance a game's suitability:

Content Descriptors

The content descriptors appear on the back of the game box as well as in print ads and game web sites. The ESRB has over twenty content descriptors, such as Alcohol Reference, Blood and Gore and Nudity. All of their descriptors are listed on their web site.

The Process

To obtain a rating, a publisher sends the ESRB actual footage of their game's most graphic and extreme content. They also fill out a detailed questionnaire describing the game's content. Three trained raters, working independently, then watch the footage and recommend a rating. If all raters agree on their rating, content descriptors are added and the ESRB notifies the publisher of its decision.

When the game is ready for release, the publisher sends copies of the final version of the game to the ESRB. The game packaging is reviewed, and ESRB's in-house experts play the game to ensure that all the information provided during the rating process was complete and accurate.

The identities of the ESRB raters are kept confidential. Raters cannot have any ties to the computer or video game industry.

See also

External Links

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