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Entertainment Software Rating Board

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, is an organization that applies ratings for video games in the Americas. It started in 1994. The ESRB rates games based on the graphic material, language, references to alcohol, violence, and so on. Some content descriptors are listed below, along with games that have gotten them. Few games get the rating Early Childhood and Adults Only, unless they were specifically made for that target audience (other than instances like the infamous Hot Coffee incident with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Windows.).

Ratings

The symbols ESRB uses are stylized alphabetical letters meant to indicate the game's suitability.

Unrestricted ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Age
suitable
ESRB 2013 Everyone.svgEveryone (E)
TodosMexico
Enfants et AdultesCanada
1998Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

All ages

ESRB 2013 Everyone 10+.svgEveryone 10+ (E10+)
Todos +10Mexico
Enfants et Adultes 10+Canada
2004Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.10+
ESRB 2013 Teen.svgTeen (T)
AdolescentesMexico
AdolescentsCanada
1994Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.13+

Restricted ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Notes Age
suitable
ESRB 2013 Mature.svgMature 17+ (M)
Maduro +17Mexico
Jeunes AdultesCanada
1994Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, nudity and/or strong language. Children under the age of 17 are not allowed to buy or rent M-rated video games unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. ID's may be asked for proof of age. 17+
ESRB 2013 Adults OnlyAdults Only (AO)
Adultos ÚnicamenteMexico
Adultes SeulementCanada
1994Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content including nudity, and/or gambling with real currency. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to buy or rent AO-rated video games regardless of parental consent or accompanied. ID's may be asked for proof of age.

None of Nintendo games are ever rated by AO (rated M instead). 21 games have kept this rating (none of them are released on Nintendo).

18+

Other ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Examples
ESRB 2013 Rating Pending Rating Pending (RP)
Aún Sin CalificarMexico
Côté en AttenteCanada
1994 Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned. Upcoming games, playable demos
Shares Info
Información CompartidaMexico
2013 Indicates that personal information which has been provided by a user is shared via third-party programs.
Shares Location
Ubicación ComparteMexico
2013 Users of the same app can share their locations with others.
Users Interact
Interacción de UsuariosMexico
2013 Indicates that users can chat user-to-user and may be exposed to unfiltered, user-generated content.
This product does not require age classification 1994 Products with this are exempt from the ESRB system due to their content not being game related. applications, books, subscription services

Discontinued ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active Description Age
suitable
ESRB ECEarly Childhood (EC)
Niños PequenosMexico
Jeunes EnfantsCanada
1994-2014Content is intended for young children. In 2014, the EC rating was no longer used for video games, they will instead be rated E. 3+
ESRB KAKids to Adults (K-A)19941998These titles will appeal to people of many ages and tastes. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief (i.e. slapstick and gross-out comedy), or some crude language. Examples are Castlevania: Dracula X, Super Mario 64, Tetris and Diddy Kong Racing. This rating got replaced in the year 1998 by the E rating, which replaced all previously rated games that were Kids to Adults.6+

Content

Rating Description Which ratings it is used for
Alcohol ReferenceReference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages.E10+, T, M, AO
Animated BloodDiscolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood.E10+, T
BloodDepictions of blood.T, M
Blood and GoreDepictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts.M, AO
Cartoon ViolenceViolent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters.E ,E10+, T
Comic MischiefDepictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor.E, E10+, T
Crude HumorDepictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor.E (Mild), E10+, T
Drug ReferenceReference to and/or images of illegal drugs.E10+, T, M
Fantasy ViolenceViolent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life.E, E10+, T
Intense ViolenceGraphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death.M, AO
LanguageMild to moderate use of profanity.T, M
LyricsMild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music.E (Mild), E10+, T, M
Mature HumorDepictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references.T, M
NudityGraphic or prolonged depictions of nudity.M, AO
Partial NudityBrief and/or mild depictions of nudity.T, M
Real GamblingPlayer can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency.AO
Sexual ContentNon-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity.M
Sexual ThemesReferences to sex or sexuality.E10+ (Mild), T, M
Sexual ViolenceDepictions of rape or other violent sexual acts.AO
Simulated GamblingPlayer can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency.E, E10+, T, M
Strong LanguageExplicit and/or frequent use of profanity.T (Mild), M, AO
Strong LyricsExplicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music.T, M, AO
Strong Sexual ContentExplicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity.M, AO
Suggestive ThemesMild provocative references or materials.E, E10+ ,T
Tobacco ReferenceReference to and/or images of tobacco products.E10+, T, M
Use of AlcoholThe consumption of alcoholic beverages.E10+, T, M
Use of DrugsThe consumption or use of illegal drugs.T, M
Use of TobaccoThe consumption of tobacco products.T, M
ViolenceScenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment.T, M
Violent ReferencesReferences to violent acts. E10+, T, M, AO

Where ESRB is used

Country Notes
American SamoaFollows U.S. customs
ArgentinaUsed along INCAA ratings.
Bahamas
Belize
Bermuda
Bolivia
BrazilUsed along DJCTQ ratings.
British Virgin IslandsFollows U.S. customs
CanadaESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
Used alongside PEGI ratings on French language games.
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Ecuador
El Salvador
French Guiana
GuamFollows U.S. customs
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
MexicoESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
Nicaragua
Northern Mariana IslandsFollows U.S. customs
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Puerto RicoFollows U.S. customs
SamoaFollows U.S. customs
Suriname
United StatesESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
United States Virgin IslandsFollows U.S. customs
Uruguay
Venezuela

Trivia

  • The first game ever to be rated E-10 was Nintendo's Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for the GameCube.
  • The graphic moves and fatalities in the game Mortal Kombat (1993) is the main game known for the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

See also

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