Thursday, February 22, 2007

The ESRB Figures It Out

From Next-Gen:
Following up on online want ads, Entertainment Software Rating Board boss Patricia Vance tells Next-Gen that the ESRB is moving from part-time to full-time game raters, a switch that she says will help produce more consistent ratings.

Vance elaborated, “Having full-time raters will allow for each [rater] to have greater experience actually reviewing content and recommending ratings, given the increased amount of time each one would spend doing it. This would provide each rater with a greater sense of historical parity for ratings, not to mention helping them to be more attuned to pertinent content and how it should be considered from a ratings standpoint.”

You know what? I think it's fair to say that the ESRB has pulled its head out of its ass. In the last six months, they've partnered with some of their political opponents, they've partnered with the PTA, they've increased emphasis on point of purchase displays, and in general they've stopped saying that underage consumers buying inappropriate content is someone else's problem.

With this announcement, they've stopped pretending that the method being used to rate games wasn't a problem.

Look. Gaming in the U.S. was a 12.5 billion dollar business last year. It's big boy business now. You can't depend on volunteer raters playing a game for an hour, or totally rely on the people who made the game to tell you about all the "objectionable" content. That's just not a logically sound process. The new process may not be perfect, but it definitely sounds like an improvement.

Well done.

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