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ESRB ratings

At this point in time, the gaming industry faces several truly juvenile problems that do not befit its status as one of the premier forms of entertainment in the world.

For example, rating systems have yet to be properly implemented, with many games being banned from certain countries when films and books with similar content are given a free pass.

Even in the United States, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has some problems with their designations. In my opinion, their ratings are not properly delineated to encompass all types and ranges of mature content.


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The T (Teen) rating arguably does not truly mean that a game is appropriate for a teen, according to the ESRB ratings. Perhaps it would be better to split the T rating into “13+” and “16+” ratings. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) did this some time ago by introducing the “PG-13” rating, and it has been successful in categorizing films more accurately.

I also believe our industry has not truly embraced "mature" content — beyond exploding heads, anyway. Violence is present in almost every popular game, but "maturity" can mean so many other things.

For example, nudity and sexual content are taboo in the industry, while these themes are an integral part of many films and books. Our industry has not grown up enough to accept that sexuality — along with more emotional themes such as loss, love, and friendship — can be just as effective at conveying a mature narrative as violence and death.


While many games do include these emotional themes, they aren’t always the most successful and are always dwarfed by the token military shooter at the time. Similarly, games that dare to include sexual themes tend to get lost in the shuffle, though they should be commended for their audacious use of this sort of content.

Gamers like to complain that they aren’t taken as seriously as movie buffs or book lovers. In order for people to take our industry seriously, we have to take ourselves seriously on both a ratings and content front. Only then will gaming take its rightful place as a truly legitimate medium.

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