Hillary, Lieberman Hail ESRB’s New Rating Summaries

Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) have praised a new ratings supplement announced by the ESRB today. Both senators have been harsh critics of the video game industry in the past, lending extra weight to their support for the inititiative, which the ESRB is calling “rating summaries.”

The summaries, which provide additional detail on game ratings, can be accessed via the ESRB website or through sites which host the ESRB widget (like the one in GP’s sidebar). The ESRB’s new mobile site allows parents to check the summaries in real-time while making game purchasing decisions. The new rating summaries go into effect today and apply to all games rated after July 1, 2008.

Of the enhancement, ESRB president Patricia Vance said:

Parents can always use more help when making choices as to which games are right for their children. With our new rating summaries, which provide exclusive and unprecedented insight into the nature of the content that triggered a given rating assignment, parents will be that much more empowered in making those choices.

Sen. Clinton said:

This new supplement to the ratings is a real gift for parents as we head into this holiday season.  Parents need all the information they can get to make more informed decisions about what’s appropriate for their children.  These new rating summaries offer more helpful information than ever before to help parents to get involved and get informed.

While Sen. Lieberman added:

For well over a decade I have called upon the video game industry to inform consumers about the content in video games so they could make the right choices for their children.  One result was the creation of the ESRB rating system… The ESRB has now taken consumer education one step further with their new rating summaries, which provide a greater level of detail about game content to help parents be even more prepared to make informed game selections for their children.  I applaud the ESRB for taking this proactive step to inform video game consumers.

Also on board are National PTA president Jan Harp Domene and Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family, a frequent game industry critic.

Check out Far Cry 2’s ESRB page for an example of the new rating summaries.

GP: This is a smart move by the increasingly proactive ESRB. The rating summaries certainly can’t hurt and the backing of Hillary and Lieberman may assist in heading off a pair of bills presently in Congress which seek to bring "truth" to video game ratings.

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  1. elal says:

    The rating and the cover art tells all that anyone really needs to know. Not to mention the titles are usually forthcoming as well. All it takes is to rub a few brain cells together. And as far as alien v. human blood, there’s a decent amount of the time that you’re, in point of fact, just defending yourself. They’ll kill you a lot better than you can kill them.

    I dont know, it just seems like it’s already so obvious. I mean, come on, movie ratings are more difficult, but parents appear to understand that just fine.

  2. Nocturne says:

    Hey, I have a new jobt that began today, and I’m not saying what it is, but you kids won’t be pleased!


    I’m assuming you meant ‘your kids won’t be pleased!’ and that Clown college training of yours is finally paying off.

  3. sortableturnip says:

    You may want to go take a shower after JT mentioned your name in his post.  Get the smell of old man off of you….

  4. sortableturnip says:

    "Hey, I have a new jobt that began today, and I’m not saying what it is, but you kids won’t be pleased!"


    I’d like the number 4 combo meal, biggie sized, hold the onions, and substitute a large shake for the drink.


  5. Sigma 7 says:

    There’s a difference between pseudo ‘M’ ratings, and ‘M’ ratings.  In the former, it feels as if the game only got the ‘M’ rating because of red-pixel syndrome, while the latter does contain content that is not ideal for those under 17 years.  It also doens’t describe exactly what happens, whether it’s "acceptable" green alien blood or "bad" red human blood, since it can be a suprisingly broad tag.

    Granted, I don’t believe that you need to be that specific, but when the ESRB is receiving complaints that they aren’t transparent in their ratings (whether it’s dumb parents not reading the ratings, or gamers wondering why the rating is so high), they will eventually make changes in order to be credible. 

  6. Aliasalpha says:

    That’s just a systems analysis thing, they have to make it as blindingly simple to use but impossible to break, a touchscreen with just the ratings on and popups showing detailed info would work well.

    Failing that, a large poster with the information on it would do.

  7. Cavalier says:

    I’m curious: what exactly is the "camel’s nose" in this analogy?  It doesn’t seem to follow very clearly.

  8. DeepThorn says:

    Jack do you want a cookie or something?  Hell, I have some Chex Muddy Buddies waiting right here for you. (They are pretty good actually.  I am not and never was a lawyer, so I am willing to share.)  Get some statistics that are not bias for once.  I can word questions to get any answer I want too.

    question A: Do you think that video games that have pornography, rape of real women, and Jack Thompson in them available to minors to buy or for the government to prevent such a sales? (You are included only because that will even get some gamers to agree for government regulations.)

    question B: Are you okay with the government telling you and regulating how you raise your children?

    Both at about the same topic, not up front on what they are really about, and are bias questions.  If you are going to show me research stats, I was to see how the people were selected, exactly what question was asked, exactly what the answer was, and audio/video recordings of the research being done beginning to end.  Even if it is 80 hours of footage, I would go through it just to verify and point out anything on either side.  I am a man of science, and I don’t give a damn if what I want is what is supported.  It is what the individuals want that is important with these studies, and no one has any right to play with those results.

    Honestly, I see where you are coming from Jack in trying to do something good (Maybe even to sneak your way into Heaven, but you were a lawyer and you know what they say.  j/k), but you have to look at all the information to figure out what exactly is good, and what exactly people want, and not to force people into something they don’t want, even though that is what the purpose of over half of your life has been. (jeez, only lawyers and car salesmen…)  If the people make the wrong choice with unbiased statistics and the government follows those statistics, then the people will learn from their mistakes.  You have no right to prevent that situation from happening, and it actually slows the progress of man kind and waste all of our money with pointless time wasting lawsuits, which could actually be going toward NASA and other government branches to make greater progress in sciences and those progresses result in a stronger economy, more jobs, and a stronger country.

    If you are still up though Jack, good night, if you see this in the morning, good morning, if you don’t see it at all…  dang…

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

  9. DeepThorn says:

    Never doubt the stupidity of people, especially in big numbers and lead by crazy people.

    Don’t underestimate bad parents, or anyone for that matter, that want the blame everywhere else than on them.

    There is never a balance.  Even the movie rating system still gets attacked here and there.  Just take a simple soda.  Some people like a glass of soda with ice, some just want it cool without ice, some like it room temperature, some like it flat, some like fresh out of a newly opened bottle or can.  Some prefer a plastic bottle, some a glass bottle. (I am a cool, no ice, freshly opened, glass bottle kinda guy.) 

    Then we have the people who act like they like it one way, but will change their mind if the situation benefits them more another way, then also the grass is greener on the other side.  After that we have sleepers that dont have a problem normally, something that is 1 in a million situation happens, then they become an extremist.  Then we have extremists on both sides that will never stop bitching.

    So all in all, there is no winning.

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

  10. Cecil475 says:

    Hi Jack,

    How is Wal-Mart treating you?

    Or is it McDonalds?

    "Yes sir. I want two double cheeseburgers, fries, and a large sweet tea."

     – Warren Lewis

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  11. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Have a cookie.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  12. TBoneTony says:

    NOW I get it.

    If they have it in the store, that would be helpful.

    Except what about parents who have no idea how to use it? Or may not know it is there?

    Sorry about that, but I felt that if you try to help, then that is all you can do.

    If you try to make people to listen, then they may not really see any point.

  13. Andrew Eisen says:

    I think that would be a fine solution too, so long as the M18 isn’t treated as an AO.


    Andrew Eisen

  14. E. Zachary Knight says:

    While I am not a personal fan of shaking up the ratings when you don’t need to, I will support a change if the ESRB feels the need to change it.

    I have made the suggestion of having a T15 or T16 and an M18. That could even things out a bit. That way games like Halo can be T16 and GTA and Manhunt ca nbe M18.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  15. Aliasalpha says:

    3 words: "In Store Display"

    It’d save bandwidth, provide information and maybe even get the store some good publicity for being responsible.

  16. Erik says:

    Didn’t he say this pretty much word for word about a law he helped pen, that was verry very quickly shot down?  And therefore doesn’t this prove something that Einstein said about doing something over and over and expecting different results being a sign of insanity?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  17. Cheater87 says:

    She says there are gamers of all ages and games are even up to 35. Then WHY not talk to the console makers and let us adults have adult games???

  18. elal says:

    Why is the rating on the box not good enough? Is blood, gore, sexual themes/suggestive themes so hard to decipher?

    Blood: Blood

    Gore: More blood, maybe bodies and severed limbs. Could be zombies as well.

    Sexual themes: what you parents do but wont admit to, but you see them anyway…

    Suggestive theme: less extreme, is more behind closed doors.Suggested rather than seen.

    Violence: Violence

    it’s mostly self explanatory.


  19. TBoneTony says:

    Patrica Vance: “What may come to a surprise for some parents is that the average age of a gamer is 35. That means is that there are games that are going to be for all ages”

    Yep, even though I could word it in a way that would clearly say that there are going to be games that are going to be marketed for kids, and there are games that are going to be marketed towards the older mature/adult audience.

    So it is really important for parents to have a clear understanding of that. And that they have to understand that while they may not want kids to have easy access to those types of mature games, they also have to respect that adult gamers deserve to have access to games that are marketed to them.

  20. TBoneTony says:

    I see this as only a real help to parents who are able to access the internet.

    but what about many of the other parents who don’t have the internet and only rely on information from sensationalist news stations and tabloid newspapers?

    These are the people who should be getting to have better information given to them instead of politicians wanting their votes and mainstreem media wanting their cash for lies in the newspaper and TV news.

    Sadly no ammount of real information is doing to get to them by the way things are now.

  21. dobilay says:

    I doubt that this will actually cause many parents to reconsider anything since they probably won’t bother to check, but at least it seems to making the politicians happy and hopefully off our backs.


  22. Cheater87 says:

    If they put these summaries on the boxes as well would people shut up about the ratings not being good enough???

  23. Erik says:

    " Look for a federal law prohibiting sale of mature games to minors in Obama’s first term."

    Then look for it to be quickly ruled unconstitutional due to singling one form of media out from all of the others.  The FTC has proven that it is much easier for a minor to buy an explicit cd or R rated movie than it is to purchase an M rated game.  So why go after the industry that is doing the best now?

    Oh thats right.  You’re a pussy and realize that if you went after Hollywood they would turn your asshole inside out.

    As far as your new job, you should know when I say no pickles I mean no fucking pickles.


    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  24. DavCube says:

    First off: What Hellfire meant was that people will still be stupid enough not to read the box. (Like you, for instance, since you just make up content and goals that don’t exist in the games in the first place)

    Second: The way it looks, there’s no way that someone is going to even take anyone’s valuable time and money to push such a bill when the country is already in such a dire recession. There ARE more important things happening in the country right now, sir. Certainly more important than mature video game sales that are already extremely low (despite your fabricated polls that state otherwise.) EA’s and T2’s stocks didn’t drop because of you. Circuit City isn’t closing much of their doors because of you. Recession’s don’t discriminate.

    Third: None of your laws were ever ‘bullet-proof.’ Or do you not remember that you never once won a game-related game? The only thing you DID win was getting GTA4 ads taken down, and all you did was make a call. You could have done that with or without your lisence intact.

    Fourth: I frankly don’t give a care what your new job is, (if you’re even telling the truth, which you almost never do) and i’m fairly certain that whatever it is, it isn’t in any way threatening to anyone, whether they play video games or not.

    Fifth: I noticed a spelling error. Are you going to blame that on Dennis too? Since you’re supposedly so perfect you can’t make a mistake.

    Sixth: Stop using ‘Hooah.’ It is a mockery of our troops serving overseas. And you call yourself a Christian. Heck, it’s barely even American to mock them like that.

    David "DavCube" Gagnon, Mature Human Being, and You’re Not.

  25. Andrew Eisen says:

    Right, which is why I suggest removing the ability to have an easy swipe rule.  Force them to evaluate each game on its own merits.

    I see an AO rating as pointless anyway.  It doesn’t tell me anything I couldn’t already glean from the content descriptors and I personally feel that when you’re 17, you can play any game you want.  I’ve never seen a game that I felt appropriate for 18-year-olds but not 17-year-olds.


    Andrew Eisen

  26. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Of course I don’t.

    My point is that getting rid of the AO rating would be pointless. Any new policies they would make to selectively license M rated games after the abolishment of the AO rating could just as easily be implimented for AO rated games today.

    They are just being lazy. They like to have that easy one swipe rule and it makes them look good for watchdog groups and politicians.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  27. Father Time says:

    Do you really think that Microsoft will ban Halo or Sony will ban God of War if the Ao rating was destroyed tomorrow?

    Come on man nobody’s that stupid.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  28. Andrew Eisen says:

    Oh absolutely.  Plus, this particular poll was presented to the ESA as part of a sales pitch.  As GP put it:

    "Does it help a public relations firm to win business if the numbers indicate that the would-be client has a problem? It would seem so."


    Andrew Eisen

  29. Andrew Eisen says:

    Thompson’s not making up the poll but he is wrong about it being a video game industry poll.  It was conducted by Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm.

    The poll said: "Sixty percent of US consumers polled agree that the government should regulate the sale of violent or mature content video games…"


    Andrew Eisen

  30. sqlrob says:

    You mean like your LA law was Constitutional and practically got laughed at by the judge?

    Let’s try this one more time JT (flip flopper that you are, I thought mccain was the man)…

    WITH SPECIFICITY state how any law regulating game sales (or any media) based on non-obscenity can be Constitutional. I’ve asked you this for every law you support and EVERY SINGLE TIME you dodge the question. I’ve stated precedents, none of which you have ever been able to dispute.

  31. Andrew Eisen says:

    "The new statutory approach is constiutionally bullet proof."

    Want to put money on that?

    By the way, your post is on topic and doesn’t violate the comments policy.  I’m proud of you Thompson; I always knew you could do it.


    Andrew Eisen

  32. hellfire7885 says:

    Quit making up polls nitwit, and I wasn’t talking about that.

    People call for regulation and nothing ever comes of it, and never will.

    Oh, and ejoy your job at Walmart, won’t have it long once their game shipments start to vanish,.


    And since when did "job" have a T in it. The T and B keys aren’t even remotely close together.

  33. Andrew Eisen says:

    I don’t foresee console manufacturers refusing license to M rated games.  That would cost them a crap load of money.  It’s possible they may refuse license on a case by case basis but if one of them decides it doesn’t want a particular game on its console (because of the game, not the rating), I could live with that.

    That said, I totally agree that the console and retail folks should support AO games.  Unfortunately, the rating has such a negative stigma attached to it that I don’t think they ever will.


    Andrew Eisen

  34. hellfire7885 says:

    Furthermore, Thompson, as far as I can see the ESRB is workign to make the ratings on game packaging more obvious, thus making your self appointed job much harder.


    "The new statutory approach is constiutionally bullet proof."

    You’ve said this before, and every one you’ve said it about has been as bulletproof as paper mache’ body armor.


    " Hey, I have a new jobt that began today, and I’m not saying what it is,"

    Job doesn’t have a T in it, and the T and B keys are no where near each other, so learn some basic typing.

    And not saying what you new job is? So, you consider sitting at home all day googling you name a career eh? Good for you.

    And evidently you’re a financial expert too. I mean, of course, durign a financial crisis we jsut need to waste more money on uncontitutional laws. It seems so obvious now.

    And since you can never tell, the last two sentences were sarcasm

  35. michelleobamarama says:

    Hellfire 7885 is absolutely correct (see above).  This new ESRB bandaid just gets more of the camel’s nose into the video game industry’s tent.  Look for a federal law prohibiting sale of mature games to minors in Obama’s first term.  It will be wildly popular with parents in both parties, as a recent video game industry poll proves. 

    The new statutory approach is constiutionally bullet proof.  Hooah!  Jack Thompson

    PS:  Hey, I have a new jobt that began today, and I’m not saying what it is, but you kids won’t be pleased!

  36. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Why? So console manufacturers will start banning M rated games? Make perfect sense to me.

    What needs to happen is for console manufacturers and retailers to start fully supporting the ESRB and ALL its ratings. They have the parental controls in place. There is nothing stopping them except their fear of whiny nanny state groups and politicians.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  37. Aliasalpha says:

    At my local Big W (basically walmart type store), there’s these bar code scanners so customers can get confirmation on the price of stuff and that also shows the OFLC rating. What would be awesome would be if games & movies had expanded data that included screenshots or short clips available if someone wants to see the sort of thing thats in it. I think that showing the chainsawing in half in gears of war 2 would be a really good example of theover the top gore of the game and give someone a good indiccation if it’s what they should buy 8 year old johnny.

  38. CyberSkull says:

    Now if the ESRB would work backwards through their catalog with the new descriptors that would be great.

  39. Andrew Eisen says:

    Well, yes.  If the console manufacturers would license them and stores would carry them that it wouldn’t be a problem.


    Andrew Eisen

  40. thefremen says:

     I still really REALLY want MPAA ratings to be visible on DVDs, and if they’re ‘un-rated’ I’d like the theatrical rating to be included along with a note saying the contents of the disk are un-rated.


    I can’t read the things. I can read the ESRB ones but honestly I don’t really need to because I know what games are about what, I really don’t know the contents of every movie.

  41. HilaryDuffGta says:

    http://www.myspace.com/hermoinefan_420 (and boom goes the dynamite)


    i think if i worked in a game store i honestly would just flat out say "the game isnt intended for children its more of a game for someone 17 or over" and leave it at that..hey if the parents are to stupid to listen to that then i say screw it and let them buy the game and if they come back and complain then u tell them that you informed them it wasnt a game for their kid and leave it at that..


    honesty i think way to many parents get away with this whole "i didnt know grand theft auto was a bad game" bs…If your so stupid that you cant figure out that "grand theft auto" is a crime then dont buy the game and if you dont want to do that then get urself fixed..just dont complain to people who actully have brains and know how to parent their child..

  42. Andrew Eisen says:

    Awesome possum.  Now all it needs to do is get rid of that useless AO rating and the ESRB’s rating system will be that much closer to perfection.


    Andrew Eisen

  43. KN says:

     shit will be cool when the dems somehow achieve 59 seats and lieberman’s role as THE CRUCIAL VOTE will be taken over by a socialist (Sanders)


    he’d have a lot of free time to embaress himself with shit like this

  44. deuxhero says:

    you still said a man should kiss a mans ass for job security. and have a sig that says it is wrong to give up freedom for security

  45. Attack_Gypsy says:

    I’m from CT and extremely despise Lieberman. I’m biased, and I admit it.


    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~ Benjamin Franklin

  46. wiregr says:

    Before he can start kissing Reid’s ass, he needs to stop kissing his own. Oh, wait. Politician. Sorry, carry on.

  47. Attack_Gypsy says:

    Lieberman needs to STFU and start kissing Reid’s ass so he can still be a committee chair and not dropped down to the White House Sanitation Improvement Committee.


    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~ Benjamin Franklin

  48. Zen says:

    Yep, and if they had some signs posted showing the ESRB web site for their phones, they can take a quick look and get some info for when your not around. I’ve had no issue trying to warn a parent about buying God of War or (this happens WAY to often) about the Grand Theft Auto series.  Some appreciate it, all kids hate me for it, and some parents have actually threatened me because they thought I was telling them what to do. 

    Jeremy Powers aka Zen
    Panama City, Fl.

  49. Arell says:

    I think it’s a good idea, at least for those parents that are proactive in their child’s gaming choices.  "What does ‘suggestive themes’ mean, exactly?"  Now if they’re proactive enough, they can look it up and see if it’s something they want their kids to play.  It’s proabaly not going to change the landscape, though.  Some parents will see the M and prohibit the game without further insight, while others won’t give a damn, or at least think that their child can handle anything (most parents worry about OTHER children, not their own, being influenced negatively by games).

    I have friends with children, and pretty much all of them are game-illiterate.  I once saw one of these couples considering buying God or War for their 9 year old just by looking at the cover art.  Much to the kid’s ire, I explained exactly what happened in the game, and they immediately shelved it, and looked around the store as if surrounded by live grenades.  Since then, I have bookmarked the ESRB on all my parent-friends’ computers.  I’m definitely going to tell them about this new tool, as well.

  50. C. Aaron Browbowski Jr. says:

    come on… do you really think that people will treat video games like music and movies… people have a special hatred for games

    Jesus Jack Jones Thompson…. is dead… (funeral udruge, followed by Celebrate 😀 )

  51. Zevorick says:

    Ivy’s a ridiculous character anyway. Sadly, my favorite character has now switched from mitsirugi to the apprentice. I feel so dirty. Anyway, I know what you’re saying and I do agree, I just hate the way they constructed MK VS DC. At first I was thinking "They CAN’T be serious" then thought "Okay… this might be cool" then back to "Oh Jesus, they CAN’T be serious"

  52. Zen says:

    Nah…it may be a weird idea..but I think it will be a hillarious game to play in a group though.  But it was also just one that pops to mind for those "T" rated games that can run a pretty wide gammit of content from fairly harmless, to "shouldn’t this be an M?" type games.  Soul Calibur is another good example.  We love the game, but when my 8 year old is playing we try to avoid Ivy (at least in the stripper suit) when we play because I don’t find it appropriate for his age, but I am ok with him playing a figting game with me. Stuff like that could be included in the summary that would be a phones internet away.  I just never see it as a problem to make more information available so someone can make an honest, well thought, decision. 

    Jeremy Powers aka Zen
    Panama City, Fl.

  53. Zevorick says:

    Any parent who willingly subjects their children to the garbage that is Mortal Kombat Vs. DC needs to be arrested for child abuse :p

  54. ConnorM5 says:

    "Can I get this Blood Guy game, mommy?" "Sure. But.. what does the M stand for?" "Uhhh …monkeys!" "Okay!" Expecting these parents to check ‘teh intertubez’ for more information on said Monkeys might be reaching a bit.

  55. Zevorick says:

    I loathe Hillary Clinton with an unbridled passion, but I have to say I agree with her statements on this one. Granted, this system is a bit redundant, but if it helps parents ACTUALLY parent their children and take responsibility for the content they bring into their home then I’m all for it.

  56. Zen says:

    As a parent, (even though I work in a game store as well) I can see how it would be helpful to have information like this available.  I don’t see it as changing the actual content on the box but, as an example for me and my kids, what if I want to see if my younger son can play a T rated game?  I could check on my phone for more detailed information that would let me decide between letting them play the new Mortal Kombat Vs. DC, Tony Hawk, or any other number of games that a parent may say is in the "ok range" for a younger kid but may cross a few lines anyways.  I welcome it.

    Jeremy Powers aka Zen
    Panama City, Fl.

  57. mogbert says:

    Personally, the old rating in which they say what the game contains on the actual box seems to be enough, but if they can make politicians happy by having a online database, more power to them. Personally, I think the politicians were just looking for an excuse to be mollified.

    Also, google could probably tell you enough in about 15 seconds, but far be it for me to say that a little research wouldn’t hurt.

Comments are closed.