ESRB Unveils Automatic Rating System

ESRB Unveils Automatic Rating System

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The ESRB won't look at downloadable games until after release, following a change in its the rating procedure.

The difficult and largely thankless task of applying ratings to videogames will no longer be the work of humans - at least, not the humans at the ESRB, anyway. The ESRB has set up an automated system that will apply a rating based on a number of different criteria.

Anyone who submits an online game for rating will have to answer a number of questions in order to gauge just how strong or mild the game's content actually is. There are a number of categories, such as offensive language, violence and sexual content, which in turn break down into sub-categories. The section dealing with offensive language, for example, splits into six different areas, which include racial slurs, toilet humor, and rather oddly, an entire category for the word "ass." Publishers will also have to submit a DVD of the game's worst content, and once that is received the ESRB will issue the rating

The software that assigns ratings is supposedly designed to react like a typical American consumer, which is probably a lot less ominous than it sounds. There will be penalties dished out for publishers or developers who submit incorrect information on the questionnaire, and someone at the ESRB will play each game shortly after it is released to the public to make sure that everything is on the level. Presumably, this will be a fairly short play session, rather than an in-depth review, as that would rather defeat the point of the questionnaire. This new system will not affect retail games, which will still be rated by the usual method of three different raters watching DVDs of the game's content and assigning a rating based on what they've seen.

ESRB president Patrica Vance said that the system that the ESRB uses was put in place in 1994, long before the advent of online gaming. She added that the new system looked at the same elements as the old one did, but was more "affordable and accessible." It's not hard to see why the ESRB would want to automate some aspect of the rating process - there is only so much time in the day, and over the course of a year, the ESRB looks at hundreds of games - but waiting until after release to play the game sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

Source: New York Times via MCV

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So, there is a job at ESRB that involves playing games and going "yep, they were right, there is an ungodly amount of ass and feces in this game"?

... Where can I sign up?

dogstile:
So, there is a job at ESRB that involves playing games and going "yep, they were right, there is an ungodly amount of ass and feces in this game"?

... Where can I sign up?

But you can only play 5 minutes of the game.

dogstile:
So, there is a job at ESRB that involves playing games and going "yep, they were right, there is an ungodly amount of ass and feces in this game. NEXT PLEASE!"?

... Where can I sign up?

Fix'd.

And yes, you can put my name down there too.

I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

Rating systems are inherently corrupt.

See: This Film Is Not Yet Rated for more a good explanation.

It opens the system up to accidental and deliberate misrepresentation. But, as far as I understand it, the system has no basis in law so means very little anyway.

Why After the Release date?

tkioz:
I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

And while we're dreaming I want my own Island fortress, cats and dogs to get along, and Transformers 3 not to suck.

HankMan:
And while we're dreaming I want my own Island fortress, cats and dogs to get along, and Transformers 3 not to suck.

Insanity! Good lord, man, you ask the impossible! Transformers 3 not suck? Crazy!

The way esrb works is bizarre anyways. They get three random people to watch a video of all of a game's self-selected "worst" content stitched together without any context.

So maybe a game has the word "ass" in it 20 times over the course of 20+ hours of play. All the raters see is someone saying ass 20 times in rapid succession. Of course it makes it look bad. If I saw that I would think the game is complete garbage.

rembrandtqeinstein:
Rating systems are inherently corrupt.

See: This Film Is Not Yet Rated for more a good explanation.

Yeah, but I rarely see a game get threatened with a AO rating. Plus, if a person wants more sexually explicit stuff in games, there is always mods.

I could see why they wanna do this. As more and more games come out, with more platforms, they have a ton on their hands to do. They probably need to find faster ways to get it all done or else have a massive hiring

PoweD:

dogstile:
So, there is a job at ESRB that involves playing games and going "yep, they were right, there is an ungodly amount of ass and feces in this game"?

... Where can I sign up?

But you can only play 5 minutes of the game.

yeah I was gonna say...maybe they should actually PLAY the games

developers can just give them games "put under the pussification ray" (excuse the Yahtzee phrase haha) LOL. a baby easy mode that makes the E3 demos look like hard difficulty

How about this scenario then, "My game doesn't have the word ass anywhere in it, it may however have the word arse several times."

For those not in the know that's the Commonwealth spelling of the word.

who here wants to make the first adult downloadable game for XBLA (but it must be classy) im thinking of making a Bishoujo now more then ever.

ctuncks:
How about this scenario then, "My game doesn't have the word ass anywhere in it, it may however have the word arse several times."

For those not in the know that's the Commonwealth spelling of the word.

i really wanna see the form so i can make a adult game that goes around it

tkioz:
I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

Sadly, ESRB is an independent organisation with no real legal power. So yeah, personally, I'm seeing problems with this.

So now the ESRB wants us to do their job for them? I get that there are a lot of games being released, but either hire a sufficient staff or stop trying.

Why do we still listen to what these clowns think?

I'm curious what the penalty is for lying on those is?
Is it jail time? Because that's what happens when you falsify on any federal document for example.
Or the way more likely answer (considering ESRB isn't a gov't entity). Some kind butt-violating fine?

sooperman:
So now the ESRB wants us to do their job for them?

No. I don't know what article you read, but the one I read said that the developer and/or publisher has to fill out a questionnaire about their game and send in a DVD, and then when the game comes out, someone at the ESRB will play it. What part of that involved us doing their job for them, exactly?

Why in the hell do you need to submit a physical DVD? What year is this again?

well i look forward to the next GTA being a 3+

Pffft, just imagine Nintendo subitting a DVD of the next Mario games most violent content...

Is it just me that's been so involved with the Portal ARG recently the first line had me thinking it was GLaDOS speaking...

tkioz:
I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

They can't just steal profits, they're a private company.

I think a fair punishment would be refusal to rate that game, and any other games from that developer for a year.

Great,we're gonna get extremists going around making the new Yu-Gi-Oh or something of the like M and other people making new murderfests E10

danpascooch:

tkioz:
I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

They can't just steal profits, they're a private company.

I think a fair punishment would be refusal to rate that game, and any other games from that developer for a year.

That'd mean that any kid could come in and buy the game.That isn't a loss

Psycho Cat Industries:

danpascooch:

tkioz:
I could see this system working if there were stiff enough penalties for lying, such as between 25-100% of total sales depend on severity, and perhaps forfeiture of the right to claim a rating in the future, based not on company but on the owners of said company (frankly companies "restructure" all the time)

They can't just steal profits, they're a private company.

I think a fair punishment would be refusal to rate that game, and any other games from that developer for a year.

That'd mean that any kid could come in and buy the game.That isn't a loss

How many unrated movies do you see in theatres and stores?

Retailers almost always refuse to stock items that have not gotten or been refused a rating, and anyone who goes to a store and sees a cover that says something along the lines of "Unrated!" (like they're flaunting it) pretty much universally take that to mean it's something horrible.

danpascooch:

Psycho Cat Industries:

danpascooch:

They can't just steal profits, they're a private company.

I think a fair punishment would be refusal to rate that game, and any other games from that developer for a year.

That'd mean that any kid could come in and buy the game.That isn't a loss

How many unrated movies do you see in theatres and stores?

Retailers almost always refuse to stock items that have not gotten or been refused a rating, and anyone who goes to a store and sees a cover that says something along the lines of "Unrated!" (like they're flaunting it) pretty much universally take that to mean it's something horrible.

True,though that doesn't stop movies from advertising themselves on all the networks around here.I think Hot Tub Time Machine is still unrated.

Psycho Cat Industries:

danpascooch:

Psycho Cat Industries:
That'd mean that any kid could come in and buy the game.That isn't a loss

How many unrated movies do you see in theatres and stores?

Retailers almost always refuse to stock items that have not gotten or been refused a rating, and anyone who goes to a store and sees a cover that says something along the lines of "Unrated!" (like they're flaunting it) pretty much universally take that to mean it's something horrible.

True,though that doesn't stop movies from advertising themselves on all the networks around here.I think Hot Tub Time Machine is still unrated.

Yeah, but nobody sees a movie cover that says something along the lines of "Jackass: unrated!" and thinks "Gee, it must have been so tame a rating of G just doesn't capture its wholesome family values, time to go show it to my toddler and not pay attention while he watches the whole thing"

Even still, remember, the whole "M rated games can't be sold to minors thing" is not a law, it's just store policy, there is no way the stores would let them buy something that ESRB refused to rate if they aren't going to let them buy M rated games.

danpascooch:

Psycho Cat Industries:

danpascooch:

How many unrated movies do you see in theatres and stores?

Retailers almost always refuse to stock items that have not gotten or been refused a rating, and anyone who goes to a store and sees a cover that says something along the lines of "Unrated!" (like they're flaunting it) pretty much universally take that to mean it's something horrible.

True,though that doesn't stop movies from advertising themselves on all the networks around here.I think Hot Tub Time Machine is still unrated.

Yeah, but nobody sees a movie cover that says something along the lines of "Jackass: unrated!" and thinks "Gee, it must have been so tame a rating of G just doesn't capture its wholesome family values, time to go show it to my toddler and not pay attention while he watches the whole thing"

Even still, remember, the whole "M rated games can't be sold to minors thing" is not a law, it's just store policy, there is no way the stores would let them buy something that ESRB refused to rate if they aren't going to let them buy M rated games.

Yeah,the modern standard would dictate that,I guess.Still though,I would laugh so hard if we ended up pulling the comic book rating thing where it gets so tight that the developers just make a new one.

Captcha:What is a speracco you?

mjc0961:
What part of that involved us doing their job for them, exactly?

"Anyone who submits an online game for rating will have to answer a number of questions in order to gauge just how strong or mild the game's content actually is. There are a number of categories, such as offensive language, violence and sexual content, which in turn break down into sub-categories."

Do you see the problem with that? If you wanted to get your laptop rated by Consumer Reports, you wouldn't send in a list of what's good and what's bad about it.

Maybe this is laziness on my part, I'll admit it. But I should think that playing/viewing a game personally to collect this kind of information, the only service provided by the ESRB, should be done by professional game reviewers, not the people making the games.

 

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