An article on The Escapist traces the origins of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) from an institution initially created in order to avoid government regulation to where it is today.
While noting that the ESRB has made huge advances in connecting with its primary clientele (parents) and has even won over The National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), the article begins to detail “unaddressed challenges” from today’s videogame market that “pose serious threats to the ESRB’s newfound relevance.”
Among these challenges is the ESRB’s current disinclination to rate online interactions (i.e. Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB):
The organization is missing out on a great opportunity to provide parents and children with a resource that enables informed choices beyond the enforced restriction of filters, a noble cause given that children play more online games than any other format.
A shift from brick and mortar retail outlets to digital distribution also poses “an immediate threat to ESRB compliance rates” says the piece’s author, Sara Grimes, who worries that this means that “the ESRB must rely on console manufacturers and mobile service providers to act as the system’s new wardens.”
In summation, Grimes writes that “it’s almost as if the Board is orchestrating its own obsolescence.” She continued:
It’s abstaining from involvement in significant game trends, failing to provide guidance where it is arguably needed most and handing over key governance responsibilities to certain members of the game industry while leaving others to fend for themselves.