Skip to main content

The ESRB ratings work: 85% of parents understand the system

ESRB ratings logos
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In the wake of the December shooting in Sandy Hook, video games have become a popular subject in United States Congress and Senate. A number of bills have been proposed, some of which want to make the Electronic Software Ratings Board’s system for rating video games by age-appropriateness legally binding, much like the United Kingdom did with its PEGI ratings system. The idea is to make retailers even more vigilant about keeping kids away from violent games. Retailers like GameStop, Best Buy, and Walmart are already vigilant about not selling Mature-rated games to minors, meaning that the onus is on parents to prevent kids from accessing those games. Walmart has been so insistent on the ratings system that its stance on carrying any “Adult-only” rated games is one of the main reasons so few AO-rated titles exist today. Since the ESRB was founded in 1994, only 21 games have earned that rating. Parents understand the ESRB’s ratings well. In fact, it’s almost impossible for them to better understand the ratings system according to the ESRB.

“We have seen a fairly stable percentage of parents in terms of awareness and use in the last several years,” ESRB president Patricia Vance told Games Industry International, “I don’t know how much higher we’re going to be able to push that. We’re now at about 85 percent awareness among parents with kids who play video games, and 70 percent say they use them all the time or most of the time.”

The ESRB’s ratings system isn’t confined to retail games, either. The group expanded its ratings system for digitally distributed titles in 2012, so the ratings are in place even for games downloaded to PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.

The Federal Trade Commission has praised the ESRB’s system in the past, highlighting how effective the tool is.

Some think that the ESRB system on its own doesn’t do enough to protect children from violent video games. In January, Utah Congressman Jim Matheson proposed House Reform bill 287, otherwise known as the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act. The purpose of the bill is to make the ESRB’s rating legally binding. Like Senator Leland Yee of California’s law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children, Mattheson’s bill proposed that game retailers be charged fines of as much as $5,000 each time they sell a Mature or Adults-Only rated game to children under the age of 18. Yee’s bill, and others like it, have been deemed unconstitutional in the past.

Topics
Anthony John Agnello
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Anthony John Agnello is a writer living in New York. He works as the Community Manager of Joystiq.com and his writing has…
NYT Strands today: hints, spangram and answers for Wednesday, July 17
NYT Strands logo.

Strands is a brand new daily puzzle from the New York Times. A trickier take on the classic word search, you'll need a keen eye to solve this puzzle.

Like Wordle, Connections, and the Mini Crossword, Strands can be a bit difficult to solve some days. There's no shame in needing a little help from time to time. If you're stuck and need to know the answers to today's Strands puzzle, check out the solved puzzle below.
How to play Strands
You start every Strands puzzle with the goal of finding the "theme words" hidden in the grid of letters. Manipulate letters by dragging or tapping to craft words; double-tap the final letter to confirm. If you find the correct word, the letters will be highlighted blue and will no longer be selectable.

Read more
NYT Mini Crossword today: puzzle answers for Wednesday, July 17
The Mini open in the NYT Games app on iOS.

Love crossword puzzles but don't have all day to sit and solve a full-sized puzzle in your daily newspaper? That's what The Mini is for!

A bite-sized version of the New York Times' well-known crossword puzzle, The Mini is a quick and easy way to test your crossword skills daily in a lot less time (the average puzzle takes most players just over a minute to solve). While The Mini is smaller and simpler than a normal crossword, it isn't always easy. Tripping up on one clue can be the difference between a personal best completion time and an embarrassing solve attempt.

Read more
Prime Day gaming headset deals: Logitech, Corsair, SteelSeries
PC Gaming Monitor with LED Lights.

Playing games online can be a lot of fun, but if you've had to deal with a sketchy headset, either for yourself or a friend, then you know how annoying bad audio can be. Luckily, you can take advantage of several Prime Day deals on headsets, and while there are also a lot of great Prime Day headphone deals, they're not as great for online comms. That's why we've gone around and collected our favorite gaming headset deals for you below to help save you the hassle. Also, you may want to check out some console deals and gaming laptop deals if you're looking for an upgrade or something new.

Best Prime Day gaming headset deals

Read more