on Sunday, January 11, 2009
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide information about video and computer game content so parents can make informed purchasing decisions. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating or concern. To take full advantage of the ESRB rating system, it's important to check both the rating symbol (on the front of the game box) and the content descriptors (on the back of the game box).

ESRB Content Descriptors

Alcohol Reference :
Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages.

Animated Blood :
Cartoon or pixilated depictions of blood.

Blood :
Depictions of blood.

Blood and Gore :
Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts.

Cartoon Violence :
Violent actions involving cartoon-like characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted.

Comic Mischief :
Scenes depicting slapstick or gross vulgar humor.

Crude Humor :
Moderately vulgar antics including "bathroom" humor.

Drug Reference :
Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs.

Edutainment :
Content of product provides user with specific skills development or reinforcement learning within an entertainment setting. Skill development is an integral part of product.

Fantasy Violence :
Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life.

Gambling :
Betting-like behavior.

Informational :
Overall content of product contains data, facts, resource information, reference materials or instructional text.

Intense Violence :
Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death.

Mature Humor :
Vulgar and/or crude jokes and antics including bathroom humor.

Mature Sexual Themes :
Provocative material, possibly including partial nudity.

Mild Language :
Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use.

Mild Lyrics :
Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music.

Mild Violence :
Mild scenes depicting characters in unsafe and/or violent situations.

Nudity :
Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity.

Partial Nudity :
Brief and mild depictions of nudity.

Sexual Violence :
Depictions of rape or other sexual acts.

Additionally, online games that include user-generated content (e.g., chat, maps, skins) carry the notice "Game Experience May Change During Online Play" to warn consumers that content created by players of the game has not been rated by the ESRB.

ESRB Helps Parents Choose the Right Games for Their Families

The ESRB rating system is designed to give parents the information they need to evaluate a computer or video game before making a purchase. The ratings are not meant to recommend which games consumers should buy or rent or to serve as the only basis for choosing a product. Rather, parents should use the ESRB ratings in conjunction with their own tastes and standards and their individual knowledge about what's best for their children.

ESRB recommends that parents learn about games before making a purchasing decision. Game reviews printed in newspapers and Web sites are excellent sources of information. To search for games that are appropriate based on age categories and content, use the ESRB online ratings search feature.

ESRB also urges parents to talk with their children about their favorite games. Playing the games with your children helps stimulate those discussions and is a fun way to spend time together. For more information visit the ESRB Web site.