To those of you who made it to the end, thank you. This piece was written with the intention of making you think, and hopefully you have a clearer picture of the ESRB now. If you’d like to read up a little more on the ratings system and its applications to our lives, here are some resources you might want to check out.
Essay: The ESRB Game Rating System Is Broken. This article comes from February 2004 and addresses some of the ESRB’s shortcomings, particularly relating to online RPG gaming. While fairly general and unrealistic at times, this piece does present an opinion that some people may agree with. Worth a read, even if you think the ESRB is just fine the way it is.
Content And Ratings In Teen Video Games. This is a study conducted by Harvard professors Kevin Haninger and Kimberly Thompson, who tested T-rated games to see if the ESRB’s content descriptors gave sufficient information. Unfortunately, their results were severly tainted by the fact that each game was played for only one hour, and this critical flaw kept any data from this study from being used in the feature. However, it is an interesting and ambitious study that could influence some people.
The Dangers of Violent Gaming. Most of this article deals with violence in video gaming, but the area of importance here is the ESRB section, where the author warns about censorship and government regulation. This article, which was written in April 2004, doesn’t really offer a solution, but encourages parental involvement in the lives of their children. This one won’t blow your mind, but you might agree with what the author has to say, as he touches on many different aspects of gaming.
Gerard Jones – Killing Monsters. While this book has nothing to do with video game ratings, ESRB President Patricia Vance recommended this book to me during our interview. It’s not so much a research book as it is a theory on children and violence from a perspective not before seen. I wasn’t able to finish this book in time to discuss it in the feature, but it’s definitely a recommended read to anyone who’s ever said that violent material should be kept away from children.
The factual evidence and quotations referenced in this feature were found at the sources below. These sources were far more valuable to me than just one quote or fact, so take the time to explore these sites in their entirety if you’re so inclined.
The ESRB. Obviously.
The ESA. From a factual standpoint, this site is a goldmine. Particularly interesting is “The Essential Facts About The Computer And Video Game Industry”, which was a huge inspiration for the direction of this piece. Almost every numerical statistic found in this feature comes from the ESA’s website.
A Case To Be Made For Night Trap. This site provided some good Lieberman quotes, as well as a refresher of the controversy of 1992-1993. Reading Nintendo’s quote about games like Night Trap shows you how far the industry has come.
Night Trap… Don’t Look Behind You! Another Night Trap site with some really neat information. Did you know that Night Trap was actually made in the 80’s, but never saw release until 1992? Pretty neat, eh?
The MPAA. Official site that boasts a fine history of the group that goes way back and sheds plenty of light on the MPAA’s current purpose. More informative than you might think it is.
Ratings Creep. The same group that conducted the study on T-rated games (see link above) commissioned a study on the changing standards in movie ratings. This is a very well-done study supported by solid evidence and could, to some people, show the true difference between the ESRB and MPAA.
Top Selling Video Games In The US, 1995-2004. Yeah, it’s from a message board, but that data came from a statistical site. Very interesting to look back and see the recent past of gaming in this form.
Once again, thanks to everyone who read this and helped make this feature possible. This has been a project that I have been keeping warm for the past year or so, and I am thrilled to finally get the chance to do it. While it’s the kind of thing that the average gamer neglects, the ESRB might be the most important part of gaming at one point in your life. That’s why it’s important to get the facts right now, rather than later. It is my sincere hope that after reading this, you will be able to make the choice that’s best for you when, at some point, the ESRB system becomes more than just a letter.