Up until now, the Entertainment Software Rating Board has used a three-person committee to assign video games ratings that determine the age groups for which they’re appropriate. To lighten the load, the ESRB will hand some of their duties over to computer software.
1Up reports the ESRB, which is apparently struggling to keep up with the 650 or so games released every year, will use the software to rate download-only games. The board will continue to use the old-fashioned, hands-on method — in which committees check out games’ contents along with an accompanying questionnaire — to rate retail games.
Game companies will now effectively create their own ratings by submitting questionnaires that the software will use to spit out a rating. Humans will follow up the games after they’re released to make sure the ratings are accurate, and will “promptly” make any needed corrections. If companies are found “egregiously” lying about their games’ content, their wares could be pulled from virtual stores until things are worked out.
The ESRB president explains the shift:
“The ESRB rating process that has been in use since 1994 was devised before the explosion in the number of digitally delivered games and devices on which to play them. These games, many of which tend to be casual in nature, are being produced in increasing numbers, by thousands of developers, and generally at lower costs. This new rating process considers the very same elements weighed by our raters. The biggest difference is in our ability to scale this system as necessary while keeping our services affordable and accessible.”
What role do ESRB ratings play in determining the games you buy? Will you trust the new system?