Analysis of Modern Video Game Rating Systems
Before 1994 video game companies put their own age rating to show what kind of age category the game was for. In 1994 Electronic Systems Rating Board (ESRB), a rating system company decided that they could help the companies by establishing a standard and rating the game for the companies. ESRB’s rating went as follows, K-A meaning kids to adult (ages 7 and up, similar to the movie rating of G), E for everybody (ages 7 and up, similar to the rating of PG), T for teen (ages 13 and up, similar to the movie rating of PG-13), M for mature (ages 17 and up, similar to the movie rating of R), and A for adult audiences (ages 18 and up, similar to the movie rating of X). When ESRB started they did a great job, but in 1999 ESRB started to incorrectly rating games. Soon after 1999 ESRB started rating a lot more games M that should have been rated T. On the flip side ESRB also rated some games T that should have been rated M. I will be talking about some of the games that I, and many others, believe that ESRB rated incorrectly. I think that ESRB should set a new standard due to their many apparent mistakes.
The first game that comes to mind with a mistaken rating is the game Zone of the Enders for Playstation 2. The game is about a young boy who accidentally puts himself in a fantasy robot type of ship and heads out to save his galaxy. It is rated M for mature, meaning you have to be 17 or older to buy the game. On the back of the game’s package it list the reason why it is rated M because it has animated and animated violence. I have personally beaten the game several times and I have yet to see the reason why they rate this game M. In all honesty I would have troubles rating this game T for teen, which means you have to be 13 or older to buy the game. There is only 1 scene that shows blood, but the amount of blood is the same amount as if you were to prick your finger with a needle. There are far worse things than machines fighting machines, and in reality if they rated this game M for those 2 things then they should have rated ALL of the Star Wars games M as well.
The second game I would like to bring up is the game Rainbow 6 for PC, Dreamcast, and Playstation. This game is about killing terrorists before they kill some of the more important people in society, such as a mayor or representative. They rated this game T for teen. ESRB also gave it this rating for animated blood and animated violence. I have also beaten this game many times and I think they might have under rated this game. Compared to many of the M rated games I know, this has quite a bit of blood for a T rated game. This game has more blood than almost any other T rated game out there. If you are to shoot the person in the head they will continue to bleed from that location when on the ground.
Another game called Goemon’s Great Adventure for the Nintendo 64. This game is about a ninja who is trying to save the earth from being destroyed by an evil demon. They rated this game E for everybody. This game should have been rated T for teen. One reason why I think this is because of the offensive language. This is a game for all ages (age 7 and up) yet they use foul language in this game. I thought this was kind of disturbing letting a game use offensive language and then rating it E for everybody, allowing little kids to hear words adults don’t want them to repeat. The other reason why I think this could have been rated T is because the point of the game is to go around killing people, spirits/ghosts, and other things. The reason why you have to kill these is so that the people in the game will not be destroyed by a big demon.
There is a game called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. ESRB rated this game E for everybody. This game is about a young boy trying to save his village from and evil villain by the name of Gannondorf. Many others and I agree that this game should have been rated T. One reason is because there are zombies that try to eat you, or try to suck your life away. Another reason is because there is blood in this game, which most E rated games don’t have. As one can imagine the blood isn’t really very realistic, but it is still blood.
Another game is Silent Scope for Playstation 2, Dreamcast, and Arcade. They rated this game M for mature, when I think that the game could have easily been rated T for teen. The storyline of this game is that you are a sniper sent to kill terrorists before they kill innocent people or the president. They rated this game M for animated blood and animated violence. I have beaten this game once, and I found a few problems with the rating they gave it. For instance there really is not that much blood at all. The only part when it shows blood is if you shoot the terrorist in the head or the rest of the body, but the amount of blood that comes out is nowhere as close as games like Hexen and Quake which both were rated M. And the part about violence is obviously correct, you are shooting people, but there isn’t so much violence that is should be rated M.
The last game I will mention is the game Kengo: Master of Bushido for Playstation 2. The game is about trying to make your warrior as strong as possible, to fight for your honor, and to keep your dojo in top rank. This game was rated M for mature, when actually I think it could have easily been rated T for teen. They rated this game for animated blood and animated violence. It does have blood, but there is the option to turn it off at any point in the game, which more and more game companies are beginning to do. There is far worse violence in the realm of games. Yet in the game Dynasty Warriors 2 you run around killing everyone (your enemy) but this game was rated T for teen.
One thing that keeps on coming up is that games like Doom and Quake and similar games cause people to want to kill people. When the two boys at Columbine High School killed all of those people most of the media seemed eager to blame the video games (not the parents) because people killed people in it. Then the media started blaming games that were rated M, and made a law be passed that you have to be at least 18 to buy or rent M rated games. My response is that you cannot blame the video games for somebody’s wrong doing. Bad parenting is to blame with for this incident. It is not video games that make you want to kill people; it is people’s low moral values that cause them to kill people. How people take the game as may be totally different from somebody else’s, but still neither any of my friends nor I have ever felt the urge to kill someone after playing a game. Just because a game is rated M doesn’t necessarily mean it should be rated that way, or is bad. There are many correctly rated games, but more and more often now you see a lot of M rated games that should be T for teen or even E for everybody.
Many parents and some of the media and press say that the rating systems are for protection. Parents often will not let their child play a game because of its rating. The problem I see with this is that the parent should always look at the game, no matter what its rating is. Many games, besides the ones I listed, are incorrectly rated, at least from my and many others point of view. ESRB sometimes over rates a game that should be rated T and rate it M, or vice versa. I think that the ratings should be as follows, E no blood and no foul language, T minimal blood and minimal foul language, M some blood and some foul language, and A anything after M. My point is that I think ESRB was doing a good job 3 or 4 years ago, but after that they have been making many mistakes rating most of the games. The parents should either read more about the game on the Internet, or watch the child play the game by renting the game somewhere, not just depend on the rating system alone.
In conclusion, ESRB needs to set some new standards because they often seem to be ignoring their own standards. But also parents can not just rely on ESRB’s rating system, but the parents too, must set a standard of what games they will let their children play. Just because it is rated M doesn’t mean that it should be, so people need to ask someone who has the played the game or read an article in a magazine about the game to make sure it is rated correctly.
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