More on the ESRBHere are a few additional comments on the ESRB ratings process. First, from developer Neil Sorens:
They rate games based on what the publisher decides to show them. So not only do they see only a fraction of the game's content, they have no idea how representative that fraction is of the rest of the game.
And here's more from a developer who wishes to remain anonymous:
I had to fill out a 6-7 page application form disclosing all of the content which would be considered violent, sexual, racist, profane, etc. etc. Since our game had none of those things (except for mild violence) it was fairly easy to fill the application out (it took about 20 minutes) and we got our "E" rating within days. I did have to construct that sample video showing general gameplay sequences, and then specifically demonstrate the "Violence" in our game. That took another hour or so... But that was pretty much it.
The entire application was one huge "honor system." If the developer wants to conceal certain aspects while emphasizing others (to secure the M rating, while avoiding the AO rating) it couldn't be easier for him/her to do it.
Look, the ratings process, by definition, is FUBAR'd. You can't have the developers deciding what content the raters get to see. Good grief! That is so wrong in so many ways that I don't even need to explain it.
I don't think I'm making a real contribution to this discussion until I come up with a better idea. I'm working on it.