ECA’s Hal Halpin Dishes on Universal Ratings

The idea of a universal rating system that would span a variety of media, including video games, movies, music and TV is a popular one among some game industry critics.

High-profile political supporters of universal ratings include presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media & the Family, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN, i.e., she’s Minnesota-based Walsh’s Congresswoman) and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Actually, I guess we can count Spitzer out of the mix as he has apparently been working on his own universal system for rating call girls.

The video game industry, on the other hand, hates the idea of universal ratings. Hates it. Writing in the April issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, ECA president Hal Halpin examines the issue:

Many of the industry’s greatest critics can (usually) agree on one thing: The [ESRB] is the best rating system for entertainment products…

Hal writes that the ESRB system blows away that of the RIAA, which simply slaps “Parental Advisory” stickers on music, with no explanation. And while he finds the MPAA’s system for movies to be better, its content descriptors can’t compare to those of the ESRB.

Hal also notes the vagaries of the current multi-rating system media environment:

Some argue that it’s unfair to have a [PG-13] movie that a 13-year-old can see, but a companion [E-rated] game that’s available to “everyone.”┬áThe inverse also occurs: One can watch the movie but not play the game owing to different ratings.

His conclusion? Universal ratings aren’t likely to happen any time soon.

Full Disclosure Dept: The Entertainment Consumers Association is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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