Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus Age Categories

June 23, 2011 -

Citing a recent study that was published in Pediatrics magazine, Douglas Gentile from the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University said that parents want a universal ratings system for all types of media, but would be better off if they didn’t have age descriptors. Besides the fact that a universal  system just won't work (different media has different descriptors that are likely not interchangeable - sort of like having universal descriptors for tobacco, drugs, and alcohol) ratings without age categories would be wildly unorganized and even more confusing.

"Regardless of what age raters set for a movie or video game, most parents will inevitably disagree," Gentile said. "With a content-based system, everyone can judge for themselves based on their own values whether a movie or video game is appropriate."

By removing age ratings, Gentile says that the ratings system would use even more descriptors to describe content - and then it would be divided up further with specific acts, actions or depictions. For example, descriptors for sex might be divided up in various categories including romantic kissing, affection without sex, open mouths or tongue contact, partial nudity, nudity from behind, etc. Just imagine the back cover of your game case if Gentile had his way.

"Parents say they really want ratings, but they don’t really use them that much because they aren’t accurate,” Gentile continues. "The reason it matters so much is because research indicates when parents do use ratings, it’s good for kids. They get into fewer fights, have better grades in school. So, the better the ratings are the more power we’ve given to parents. And 'digital convergence' — the ability to consume the same media on a variety of devices nowadays — means now is the time to develop a rating system that is universal."

Gentile doesn't say how content creators might condense these descriptor-focused ratings without some kind of age appropriate system. Imagine trying to condense all this information on the back of a DVD or videogame case; it would become a wall of text. If parents can't handle navigating the simplistic system of the ESRB, how are they expected to get through the "wall of text" this new method being proposed would create? The ESRB ratings aren't all that complicated and are very accurate, despite what Gentile says.

Instead of trying to create a dumbed down universal ratings catch-all for all content types, Gentile and others that advocate a universal ratings system should offer some advice to the ESA and other ratings boards about ways in which ratings can be approved. None of the ratings systems are perfect, after all.

You can read a detailed report on Gentile's ideas here.


Comments

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Wow! Just wow. I wish people were more aware about the ESRB rating search they have on their web site. All you have to do is search up the game name and instantly you have the reason why its rated the way it is and if you click on more on the description it gives you a full on description of the game and what content it has. All parents have to have use the damn website that was made for them. Just get off your butts and do something for your kids.

Here is the link: http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp#

 

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

WTF you can not have a ranting systems without tieing it to age levels...morons....


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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Zippy, the entire point is that you CAN. Only the reality of it is that doing so is incredibly naive and/or stupid and/or retarded and/or meaningless and/or ineffective.

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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

"Regardless of what age raters set for a movie or video game, most parents will inevitably disagree"

I wonder where he's getting that from.  From everything that I've read, most parents agree on the accuracy of the ESRB and invariably, they find them more accurate than MPAA ratings.  Of course I could be wrong.  But is Gentile actually citing a study or just saying stuff?

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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

I wonder where he's getting that from.

Probably from his ass, like everything else. Mr. Gentile is trying too hard to be the next Jack Thompson.

Douglas Gentile from the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University said that parents want a universal ratings system for all types of media, but would be better off if they didn’t have age descriptors.

Facepalm. Mostly of ratings boards include ages all over the world. Why don´t videogames?

For example, descriptors for sex might be divided up in various categories including romantic kissing, affection without sex, open mouths or tongue contact, partial nudity, nudity from behind, etc. Just imagine the back cover of your game case if Gentile had his way.

If somebody sugests this to be the rating system for music or movies industries, they would just laugh at them. It´s completely insane.

I still don´t understand why the game industry allows this so easily.

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Well the article is about a universal rating, so its possible that they are talking about other rating systems, like the MPAA or the TVPG (TV Parental Guidelines). The ESRB is not the only rating system in the USA.

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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Even though a I agree with the sentiment, I have to say that I disapprove of GP inserting editorial statements into the main text of the article. That's not how journalism is supposed to work.

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Considering this is a blog and not simply a news site, I think it succeeds alot better then say Fox or CNN about how much editorializing goes into a story.

 

 

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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

I think the research about parents using ratings is confusing correlation with causation. To be rather blunt, parents who don't pay any attention to the ratings are probably shitty parents in other ways, which is why their kids have the problems they do.

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

That's some dangerous ground to be treadin', son. You be thinkin' that parents could be the source 'o the kiddies' problems, and not them dang-gurmed vidjagames?

Oh, no. Couldn't POSSIBLY be the parents. I mean, there's no solid evidence pointing to video games as the source, so logically, it HAS to be the source!

It makes perfect sense if you don't think about it!

(For those who don't read sarcasm: Yes, that was sarcasm)

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"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Yeah...let's make ratings even more ambiguous and confusing! That way, we (the parents) can put even MORE blame on games and their content for what our children do! "Now my parental controls don't work! My 11 year-old is playing Portal without my permission! It's going to make her violent!"


Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Nah, Portal won't make her violent. It may make her self-conscious about her weight and/or question her legitimacy as your child, though.

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

we had this in the form of RSAC ratings around 1995 for PC games. ironically, they received a lot of criticism because of their lack of age-ratings.

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Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

I was going to say just that.

Still, I suppose what they could do, if they want a sort of happy medium, is do what PEGI do- have an age rating on the front, and then icons on the back signifying what content in particular is responsible.

Or, y'know, people could learn to use Google and do some research for themselves.

/b

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Half of me wants something like this to go though, if only to do away with the death-sentence AO rating that keeps a lot of potentially great games from even being produced.

On the other hand, it's pretty freakin' stupid. Parents want as little responsibility as possible nowadays apparently. The ESRB is probably one of the simplest ratings systems out there, and it still baffles me how many parents either don't know, or don't care. They don't even want to look at a single letter on the front, let alone a wall of text on the back.

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Heh, the MPAA only gets a pass because it's been around for so long, even though the ratings are hard to find on the box.

That and many movies skirt that by releasing "unrated" editions, where if a game publisher tried that same thing, people would be calling for the government to seize it's assets.

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

And hard as hell to read. The ESRB descriptors are always the black text on a white box, decent size. Reading a small white font on a green background isn't the easiest thing to do, even if you can tell it's not the list of stars.

 

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Well, if SCOTUS comes back favoring EMA, hopefully we'll get uncensored versions of games made overseas. I'm surprised Catherine made it here intact... Well, mostly.

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

I'd just love for the AO rating to not be a defacto ban. I am 25 years old, yet if a game recieves an AO, I can't buy it because either A it never gets released or B it gets neutered to it can be released.

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

I wholeheartedly agree. We're almost getting to be as bad as Australia when it comes to treating adult, voting citizens like children. If I can't get adult treatment as an adult, what the hell was the point of growing up in the first place?

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Douglas Gentile: Parents Want Universal Ratings, Minus ...

Indeed. I'd be satisfied with being able to order it online, even if I don,t the option would be nice.

 
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