ESRB Providing Detailed 'Rating Summaries' to the Public, Industry Critics Applaud Move

The Entertainment Software Rating Board today announced it will offer "rating summaries" for all the games it has rated since July 1, 2008, a move it says will help parents by providing them with more information about a game's content.

The rating summaries are slated to be available at ESRB.org beginning later today, and will "explain in objective terms the context and relevant content that factored into a game's ESRB rating assignment."

For example, take this summary of the Mature-rated PS3 shooter Resistance 2:

Resistance 2 is a first-person shooter set in an alternate 1950's environment where the Earth has been overrun by aliens. Players must shoot their way through hordes of aliens, large-scale bosses and sometimes robots, using a variety of guns and grenades. Aliens and humans get blown up, torn apart, shot, impaled and killed in gushes of red blood and body parts. During cutscenes, team members are killed by aliens, and in one instance, executed by another character. Characters use strong profanity (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t") during gameplay and cutscenes.

A mobile site, m.ESRB.org, will let consumers find and view summaries from their phones, useful when browsing the game selection at a retailer.

The summaries join the ESRB's other efforts--rating labels on the front of game boxes and content descriptors on the back--to ensure consumers make educated purchases.

In response, a number of outspoken video game industry critics, including Senators Joseph Lieberman and Hillary Rodham Clinton, expressed their approval of the new summaries.

"This new supplement to the ratings is a real gift for parents as we head into this holiday season," explained Clinton. "These new rating summaries offer more helpful information than ever before to help parents to get involved and get informed."

"I applaud the ESRB for taking this proactive step to inform video game consumers," Lieberman noted. "For well over a decade I have called upon the video game industry to inform consumers about the content in video games so they could make the right choices for their children."

"The ESRB has now taken consumer education one step further with their new rating summaries, which provide a greater level of detail about game content to help parents be even more prepared to make informed game selections for their children," he added.

Even the National Institute on Media and the Family, which has had its spats with the ESRB, applauded the move.

"I commend the ESRB for taking this step to serve the needs of parents," said NIMF president Dr. David Walsh. "The Institute advises parents to 'watch what your kids watch,' and the ESRB's new rating summaries help parents make those informed choices for their children."