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Useful Notes / Entertainment Software Ratings Board

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The ESRB: Rating and censoring video games since the first Mortal Kombat game came out.

The Entertainment Software Rating(s) Board (or ESRB) is the most prominent and well-known ratings system for Video Games. Headquartered in New York City, the ESRB is a volunteer organization that was created in the mid-1990s after Mortal Kombat and Night Trap raised concerns about the content of violent or "mature" video games. Just like the MPAA, the ESRB must review everything — they see a full script, review all art assets, and even play through the game — before they give a final rating, and they'll sometimes revise that rating post-launch if circumstances warrant.

Before adding examples to under the age ratings, there are some points to consider:

  1. ESRB only covers Canada, The United States and Mexico.note  See Media Classifications for systems used in other countries.
  2. ESRB was formed in 1994. Games that were released before that time will not be listed under them. However, there is a chance that they will be listed under them due to Digital Distribution, Compilation Re-release and/or Updated Re-release.
  3. The games they have listed will sometimes not match the titles that TV Tropes has assigned to them. It's a good idea to make sure the game to be added is the same one, and that it's just titled differently.
  4. It is possible to have the same game be given different age ratings. This is because some video games are released across the personal computer, consoles and hand-held devices. Sometimes features have to be removed from differing versions, which decreases the age rating.
  5. ESRB has the word "software" as part of its name. This means that they will check video games, screensavers, visual novels, messenger services and so on.
  6. You can access the ESRB website itself here.

The age ratings that ESRB uses:

  • Ages 3+ — eC (Early Childhood)
  • Ages 6+ — E (Everyone); originally known as KA (Kids-Adults) until 1998
  • Ages 10+ — E10+ (Everyone 10+)
  • Ages 13+ — T (Teen)
  • Ages 17+ — M (Mature)
  • Ages 18+ — AO (Adults Only)
  • RP (Rating Pending); this is only used in advertising when a game has been submitted but hasn't yet received its final rating. Adding examples is not recommended, because that would cover potentially every game in existence.

Alternative Title(s): ESRB


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