ESRB's Patricia Vance Talks About a Universal Ratings System

April 10, 2012 -

In a freshly-posted interview with Gamasutra, the ESRB's top executive talks about making the voluntary ratings system used by the North American video game industry a universal ratings system, among various topics including how to deal with getting consistent ratings on mobile and portable platforms such as Android and iOS devices and the challenges related to digitally distributed games.

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ESRB, Penny Arcade Team Up for New PSAs

February 16, 2012 -

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has teamed up with Penny Arcade for a new PSA campaign. The three-part print and online campaign will feature "caricatures based upon real parents and gamers" who offer their perspectives about the ESRB ratings system and tools like rating summaries, and the ESRB mobile app. The ads will feature artwork designed by the creators of the popular video game webcomic. The ads will start appearing this spring in "parent-focused and game enthusiast media outlets" nationwide.

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Video Game Voters Network SOPA Backlash on Facebook

January 10, 2012 -

Maybe the comments on the Video Game Voters Network (the Entertainment Software Association's advocacy group for gamers) Facebook page are purely anecdotal, or represent what Lamar Smith (the Texas Republican Congressman who is to lead sponsor on the Stop  Online Piracy Act) calls a very "vocal minority," but the entire page seems to be inundated with negative comments.

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ESA Stands By SOPA

January 3, 2012 -

Take a look at this list. We love the companies on this list because, for the most part, they make great games. The problem is that they are members of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and by proxy they support SOPA. And, according to the statement issued to Joystiq today, the ESA is not backing down from that support.

In a statement emailed to Joystiq, the trade group said the following:

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Jim Sterling's Open Letter to the ESA on SOPA

January 2, 2012 -

Destructoid's irreverent and outspoken Jim Sterling pens an open letter to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to point out their hypocrisy for supporting free speech in one instance and then going against it in another. 

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ESA Calls 2011 a Remarkable Year for the Games Industry

December 22, 2011 -

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) CEO Mike Gallagher has written a letter to the industry and the public calling 2011 "historic." One of the key reasons 2011 was such a great year for the games industry and gamers was because of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. EMA, which shot down the California anti-video game law penned by California State Senator Leland Yee (D- San Francisco) - though there were certainly plenty of other milestones to celebrate. 

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id Software Developer Explains Why Google, Apple Avoided New ESRB Ratings System

December 1, 2011 -

The ESRB and the CTIA detailed a new ratings systems for mobile games this week - backed by such companies as AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Two companies that were curiously absent from that list hold the lion's share of the market when it comes to platforms: Apple and Google.

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ESA Spent $1.1 Million on Lobbying Efforts in Q3 2011

November 30, 2011 -

The Entertainment Software Association, the trade group that represents the video game industry, spent almost $1.1 million in lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. in the third quarter of 2011. The group lobbied on a variety of issues such as energy efficiency, entertainment industry ratings, parental control technology, foreign trade policy reform, the H1-B visa program, piracy, and copyright issues. The group spent about the same amount of money that it did in the second quarter of this year - slightly less than in the third quarter of 2010.

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ESRB and CTIA Detail Voluntary Ratings System for Mobile Games

November 29, 2011 -

The ESRB and CTIA have finally revealed details on the voluntary rating system for mobile apps that was revealed last week. The ratings system currently has the support of six major mobile service and hardware providers including AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Apple and Google did not throw their support behind the new ratings system because they already have their own process and system in place - and it has been refined to their satisfaction.

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Leland Yee Offers Holiday Shopping Advice to Parents

November 23, 2011 -

After losing the mayoral race in San Francisco, California state senator Leland Yee is getting back into the groove.. of targeting violent video games and giving parents advice before they go out shopping for the holidays. The good senator from the San Francisco/San Mateo district issued a press release this morning urging parents not to buy their children violent video games for the holidays.

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ESRB, CTIA Team Up for Mobile Game Ratings

November 21, 2011 -

The Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB) has teamed up with trade group Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association to create a standardized rating system for mobile applications and games. The ESRB says that the new ratings system will be "based on age-appropriateness of their content and context," according to Gamasutra. An official announcement on the new ratings system will take place next Tuesday in Washington, DC.

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ESRB Twitter Party Tonight

July 27, 2011 -

The ESRB is hosting what it calls an ESRB Twitter Party this evening starting at 9:00 pm ET, according to a post on the group's Facebook page. Twitter users can participate by sending messages with the hashtag #ESRB from 9:00 - 10:00 pm ET / 6:00 - 7:00 pm PT with any questions about video game ratings and safety. Those that participate will be eligible to win (by random drawing) a variety of prizes, such as a $50 GameStop gift card.

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ESRB's Reaction Statement to SCOTUS Decision

June 27, 2011 -

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) president Patricia Vance issued a statement today praising the Supreme Court's decision on the California violent videogames law and said that it is a validation of the ESRB ratings system's effectiveness in keeping mature-rated games out of the hands of children. She goes on to say that the power to keep games out of the hands of children has always been in the hands of parents when they use the tools that are already available - coupled with retailer enforcement of the ESRB system. Full statement below:

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EMA Reaction Statement to Brown v. EMA Decision

June 27, 2011 -

Bo Andersen, CEO of Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has released a statement on the U.S. Supreme court's ruling on Brown v. EMA. Obviously they are pleased with the decision, but cautions that this is a wake-up call to the fact that parents are often under-informed about the content of videogames. He also notes that the ESRB rating system does a good job of informing parents.

"EMA welcomes today’s Supreme Court ruling that let stand the Court of Appeals’ decision finding the California video game restriction law to be unconstitutional," said Bo Andersen, CEO of Entertainment Merchants Association. "We are gratified that our position that the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression has been vindicated and there now can be no argument whether video games are entitled to the same protection as books, movies, music, and other expressive entertainment."

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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."

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ESA Releases 2010 Video Game Research Results at E3

June 7, 2011 -

The Entertainment Software Association released its annual report on the state of video game play in North America today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. According to the ESA research, 72 percent of American households play video games with 82 percent of those who play being adults. The "2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry" report also found that 42 percent of gamers are women and that women age 18 or older represent more than one-third of the game-playing population.

In addition, purchases of digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, subscriptions and social network gaming accounted for 24 percent of game sales in 2010, generating right around $5.9 billion in revenue.

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June is Entertainment Ratings & Labeling Awareness Month

June 1, 2011 -

With summer vacation on its way later this month in most parts of the country and with children looking for things to do when they aren't outside, it makes perfect sense that June has been declared Entertainment Ratings & Labeling Awareness Month by DiMA, EMA, NARM, and NATO (no, not THAT NATO).

The Digital Media Association (DiMA), Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and National Association of Theatre Owners are calling on theatre owners and retailers of movies, music, and video games to highlight and emphasize the motion picture and video game ratings and music labeling systems to their customers.

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New ESRB Ratings System Quietly Goes Live

May 11, 2011 -

The new Entertainment Software Ratings Board's more automated ratings system went live earlier this week, enabling the ratings system for North America process game ratings in a more timely fashion. The ESRB streamlined the process to deal with the rapid release of games on digital platforms such as Apple's App store, Android Marketplace, Xbox Live Marketplace, PlayStation Store, and on Nintendo's WiiWare.

The new system asks developers to answer eight multiple choice questions about a submitted game, which is passed along to the ratings board (along with game code on DVD to be reviewed later) with $500 to get a rating for their game as quickly as 24 hours later. ESRB head honcho Patricia Vance says that the ratings board has "contemplated what it might take to deal with thousands of small games being submitted to various platforms on a daily basis, she adds that the new system makes such a gargantuan task a possibility.

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ESA Pleased With FTC Findings Too

April 21, 2011 -

Guess who else is doing the happy dance over the FTC’s recent findings that the video game industry continues to surpass all others when it comes to retail enforcement.

That’s right, it’s the Entertainment Software Association, the industry trade group for video game publishers in the U.S.  Said ESA president Michael Gallagher:

“The ESRB is the gold standard. Our self-regulatory system works and this FTC report validates it as being the best in the entertainment industry.  We have an unparalleled commitment to working with parents, retailers, and stakeholders, and will continue to help ensure that this remarkable level of enforcement remains high.”

“Those who would criticize the industry’s commitments are either ignorant of facts or are actively pursuing a political agenda.”

AE:  Ooh, burn!

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ESRB Pres Pleased By FTC Secret Shopper Survey

April 20, 2011 -

I know what you’re thinking after reading the FTC’s report that once again, the video game industry is kicking the collective butts of all others when it comes to retail enforcement.

You’re thinking, “I bet ESRB president Patricia Vance is extremely pleased by this news.”

And you’re right.  Said Vance to USA Today:

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ESRB Automates Ratings System Pipeline with New Technology

April 18, 2011 -

Starting today, North American video game ratings system ESRB revealed that it will start using a computer-based program to determine ratings on some games. According to a New York Times report, the ESRB has developed a computer program designed to take developer input to create a rating for their games. This will be used first with downloadable games on platforms such as Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare titles.

Game developers will fill out an online questionnaire to find out what "violence, sexuality, profanity, drug use, gambling and bodily function" that might be considered questionable by players. The submissions would then be reviewed by the new ESRB software and a rating would be issued. A submitted game won't be reviewed by an actual human until after release.

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ESRB Comments on Dead Island Box Art Change

March 23, 2011 -

Earlier this week, we reported on an IGN story that the ESRB had shot down publisher Deep Silver’s first box art submission for its upcoming zombie title, Dead Island.  An alternate, ESRB approved version of the cover swapped out the silhouette of a hanging man with that of a shambling zombie.  IGN has updated its original story with comments from the ESRB:

“The video game industry has set guidelines about the types of content that are appropriate in advertising and marketing materials, which includes game box art. According to those guidelines the depiction in the logo was not compliant.

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ESRB Censors Dead Island Boxart

March 21, 2011 -

According to an IGN report, the North American boxart proposed by publisher Deep Silver has been censored by the ESRB. The rejection was due to a zombie / corpse hanging from a palm tree that represented the "I" in "Island." The approved box art simply uses a standing zombie as the "I" and removes the noose / hanging scene from the equation.

The in-game logo will remain unchanged and the boxart and in-game logo for Dead Island in Europe will remain unchanged, according to the IGN report. Dead Island is currently scheduled for release for an undetermined date in 2011.

Thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip.

Source: IGN

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Only 5 Percent of Games Released in 2010 Rated M

March 16, 2011 -

According to data from U.S. games rating board ESRB, only about five percent of all the games released during 2010 were rated "M" for Mature. This is in stark contrast to what lawmakers and the mainstream media would have the American public believe. In their minds, most games are rated "M" and are packed with sex, violence, and depravity.

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Sex in Games Leads to Real-World Rape and Other Ridiculousness

February 8, 2011 -

Boy oh boy, do I have a treat for you today.

FoxNews has posted an article examining the violent and sexual content of the upcoming Bulletstorm and I’m happy to report that it’s the most entertainingly sensationalistic tripe I’ve read in quite a while.

Bulletstorm is an M-rated shooter due out later this month from Epic Games.  Aside from copious profanity and over-the-top violence, one of its notable features is its in-game awards system, Skill Shots.  Basically, you get funny-titled awards for dispatching your enemies in unique and gruesome ways.  Here’s how the ESRB describes it:

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Rating Games the ESRB Way

February 8, 2011 -

Last week, IGN created a nifty little flow chart detailing the ESRB’s rating process.  GP veterans are no doubt familiar with the process but newer readers may look at the chart and think, “Wait a minute, why doesn’t the ESRB play all the games it rates?”

ESRB media relations guy, Eliot Mizrachi explained to IGN:

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What Naughtiness Awaits in Dragon Age II

February 7, 2011 -

An ESRB ratings entry for BioWare's Dragon Age II reveals some of the "mature rated" sauciness you can expect within the game when it is released on March 8. According to the entry, the game will feature sexually charged dialogue, adult language, and a suggestive scene that "alludes to" an act of oral sex – among other things.

First the description of oral sex:

"In one cutscene, a woman kneels in front of a male character and appears to perform fellatio," says the ESRB entry. "There is no depiction of the sex act; the camera pans out to the rest of the room."

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Editorial: The Terminator vs. the Constitution

February 1, 2011 -

An excellent editorial appearing in the February 2011 issue of Reason Magazine explains quite plainly why it is ridiculous that California is fighting for the 2005 law written by Leland Yee and signed into law by then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Writer Jacob Sullum starts the article by pointing out the irony of Arnold signing into a law a bill that bans violent media.

This from the same guy who starred in movies like Eraser, Commando, Terminator 1 and 2, End of Days, Last Action Hero, Predator, Total Recall, The 6th Day, and many more. Most recently, he did a cameo in The Expendables - an ultra violent action movie starring an all-star cast of aging action stars.

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Teen Op-Ed: California Game Law Should Be Upheld

January 10, 2011 -

Not every teenage boy backs the video game industry when it comes to banning the sale of violent video games to children in California. Take 16-year-old Daniel Willens, a junior at Sonoma Academy -- a preparatory school in Santa Rosa, California, for example.

The teenager penned an editorial in the Press Democrat called "PRO: Minors shouldn't be allowed to buy violent games." Daniel sounds like many of the other supporters of the 2005 law written by California State Senator (D-San Francisco). Daniel opens with the following statement:

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ESRB App Gets an Update

December 15, 2010 -

The ESRB has released an updated version of its app that makes it easier to look up ratings on a particular game while shopping. The free mobile app lets users snap photos of video game boxes to find out what the ratings mean. By taking a photo and using the app, consumers can get deeper content descriptors and information on the age-appropriateness of every game sold in stores. This is particularly useful for parents that may not be familiar with what is appropriate for teenagers and younger children.

The app is available on iPhone and on Android devices. You can grab it from the ESRB's mobile site or by searching for "ESRB" in the Apple Store or Android Marketplace.  

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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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