Thursday, August 11, 2005


I'm not happy with the ESRB. I've been arguing in the IGDA forum about it. I'm probably being a big jerk but, hey, you work with what you know. is a description of their ratings process. They keep the questionnaires and requirements a secret.

Let me review:

You want your game rated. You talk to the ESRB. They send you a questionnaire, which you are bound to keep absolutely secret. You fill out the questionnaire and send them video copies of the "worst of the gameplay".

Then they hand that stuff over to three people who do not play video games to rate.

You are allowed to resubmit if you want a different rating.

They never play your game.

In addition, RockStar did nothing wrong, because they couldn't send these guys a video of the sex stuff - it was not part of the game.

The ESRB has done nothing but stupid shit during this fiasco, and I've been really angry at them for weeks. Now I'm even angrier.

They never even play the games they rate.


Textual Harassment said...

Well, surely they don't have the time or the staff to play all these games, and even if they did, They'd be more likely to miss something than if the developers picked it all out for them(assuming they are forthcoming).

This way the responsibility is on the developer. The reviewers cannot be blamed for missing anything since it's all on a video tape. Now the rules are changing. They'll have to review everything on the disc that could possibly be used for unsavory purposes. That's gonna suck, but it will shift the responsibility back onto individual companies and off of the industry as a whole.

The ESRB balances a fine line between working for the industry as a PR asset and working for the public through their ratings. What they do makes more sense if you look at it this way. Regular people don't care what gamers think. They only care what other regular people think. They also don't hold this belief that you have to actually play a game to determine it's merits.

When the heat is on as it is now, the industry must shift into PR mode. Hot Coffee could have been a boon for the ESRB's credibility, but they acted too slowly. Regardless of whether Rockstar did anything wrong, The public perception was that they did, and so the board should have punished them before the politicians started putting on pressure. Now the ESRB(and by association, the entire industry) is seen as the irresponsible one.


Craig Perko said...

I can't take the idea that you can rate a game without playing it, especially in this new era of emergent gameplay. I also can't stomach the idea that they can't find ten million eager volunteers to play games which haven't come out yet.

Think about it: would you try to rate a movie based solely on the soundtrack?

My opinions on this matter are extreme, so I won't go into detail here, but I can't accept the ESRB as it stands, especially since it stands without any kind of public rules. We have no way to check up on their ratings system. It's just three guys rating it for wank material.

That's bad, regardless of any other opinions I may or may not have.