ESA is committed to helping parents make informed choices about the video games and mobile apps their children play. In 1994, the association established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which is a nonprofit self-regulatory body that independently assigns age and content rating information for video games and mobile apps. ESRB enforces industry-adopted advertising and marketing guidelines through the Advertising Review Council and helps companies maintain compliance with the growing complexity of online and mobile privacy protection laws through ESRB Privacy Certified.
ESRB ratings have three parts:
- Rating Categories that suggest age appropriateness;
- Content Descriptors that indicate content which either triggered a particular rating or is of interest or concern; and
- Interactive Elements, which highlight interactive or online features of a product, including users’ ability to interact with each other, the sharing of their location with other users, if purchases of digital goods or services are offered, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.
As a supplementary source of information, physical (e.g., boxed) video games have rating summaries that provide a detailed description of the game’s content and its context.
The entertainment software industry universally adopted ESRB’s rating system, which is strongly supported by retailers, family advocates, elected officials and government agencies. ESRB is described as the gold standard of media rating systems.
Recent surveys show that 84 percent of parents with children who play video games are aware of ESRB ratings and 88 percent say the ratings are helpful in choosing games for their children. The Federal Trade Commission’s latest undercover shopper survey revealed that retailers are the strictest and most effective in enforcing age-rating policies for video games: retailers prevented 87 percent of attempted purchases of Mature-rated games by children under the age of 17.
ESA encourages parents to take advantage of the parental controls included on all new game platforms. Learn more about setting up these controls.