Playing World Domination…US games rating groups sets out ideas for an international rating

Posted: 21 September, 2014 in US News
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esrb logoGamesbeat spoke withESRB president Patricia Vance on the eve of the board’s two-decade anniversary. Vance said:

The American public is still very sensitive about sex, relatively sensitive about language, but has a relatively high threshold for violence. Our ratings reflect that.

Other countries have different standards, which is what makes current international efforts by the ESRB so interesting. A collection of game rating organizations from around the world have collected to create a single online questionnaire that developers can use to receive ratings from all regions at the same time.

The end rating is not the same, Vance says, because cultural norms are different in different parts of the world. But a developer only has to apply once to get their ratings for this country, Brazil, Germany, and other parts of Europe. She said:

It’s quite revolutionary. It gets nuanced. Our challenge was to streamline the form. A lot of people made compromises. We’re sensitive to each country’s specific criteria.

The form, which is undergoing an update, asks developers to answer 10 basic questions, then opens up with more queries depending on the answers to the first 10. Some questions are in the form for a specific country: the use of swastikas, for example, will affect a game’s rating in Germany in a way it does not here. A game might be appropriate for wider audiences in other markets than in the U.S. depending on sexual content. And different countries slice their audiences in different ways.

I don’t think there would ever be a universal global rating, Vance said. Among other reasons, this country has the First Amendment right to free speech, which is unique, she said. Governments run most other ratings agencies and have the right to censor content.


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