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The ESRB Don't Get No Respect

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the bad-english-theirs-not-mine dept.

Games 61

Via the ffwd linklog, a story on the Hollywood Reporter site discussing the public image of the ESRB, from "pain in the butt" on the developer's side to lax child perverter on the lawmaker's side. From the article: "The issue Greenberg describes is one involving dollars and cents: Almost every single retail chain chooses not to sell 'AO' rated games, period. In just the same way that many movie theaters will not show films branded with an 'NC-17' rating, the 'AO' severely limits a game's distribution, to put it mildly."

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61 comments

Horrible! (0, Flamebait)

keyne9 (567528) | about 9 years ago | (#12235010)

"Don't get no"? I know it's supposed to appeal to some lower common denominator, but that really doesn't make any sense given the context of the article when you parse out the negatives. Truly terrible.

Re:Horrible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12235284)

Rodney is turning over in his grave...

Shocked, shocked I am (4, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | about 9 years ago | (#12235057)

No I'm not... I said this when they first implemented this monstrosity back when I was working in the game industry.

"Oh.. we only want to help parents to make an educated CHOICE... we don't want to censor anything."

Look it up, those were the "pro" arguments for such a system.

And now we have attempts at laws to ban shops from even displaying M rated games (unless you go into that back room) and AO is right out.

Meanwhile the game industry is playing the same game as the movie industry is. R rated movies (M games) sell better than the PG stuff.
(Of course that's been changing since the crackdown of theaters to actually ID people for R rated movies... My friend laments that the Ring 2 was PG-13. How scary can it be in PG-13?!)

Not that I'm disparaging parents from making an educated decision. It's a double edged sword.

Re:Shocked, shocked I am (2, Insightful)

Botia (855350) | about 9 years ago | (#12235126)

As a game developer and as a parent I have to say I'm very pleased with the rating system. It informs the parent's of the content as well as rewards developers for limiting the amount of graphic violence, sex, etc. by informing the public and letting them decide what they want to play.

An interesting side-note: G rated movies sell better than all other movies.

Not true... (2, Informative)

the_skywise (189793) | about 9 years ago | (#12235387)

According to Box Office Mojo [boxofficemojo.com] there are NO G rated movies in the top 10 all time grossing movies.

In the top 20, there are 2.

Finding Nemo and Lion King.

(and on an intersting side note, both movies involved show the horrific and traumatic death of a parent!)

Re:Not true... (1)

LordNimon (85072) | about 9 years ago | (#12235692)

both movies involved show the horrific and traumatic death of a parent!

Tell me about it. When I show the movie to my three-year-old, I skip past that part. Rated G my ass!

Re:Not true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12238027)

Well what he literally said was not true, but the spirit of what he said is, as most of the movies are rated PG. I have never heard of anyone saying "well, its rated PG, he should wait until next year."

As far as I have ever heard, G and PG are functionally equivalent.

Re:Not true... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 9 years ago | (#12246475)

And issues about parental abondonment are very common in young children. Literature helps us to address our fears, hopes and dreams. It makes sense that G rated movies should deal with the fears, hopes and dreams of young children.

Re:Shocked, shocked I am (2, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | about 9 years ago | (#12238826)

As a game developer and as a parent I have to say I'm very pleased with the rating system. It informs the parent's of the content as well as rewards developers for limiting the amount of graphic violence, sex, etc. by informing the public and letting them decide what they want to play.

That's all true, but the AO (Adult Only) rating is ridiculous. I totally understand the difference between E (Everyone) and T (Teen), as a 13 years old is slighly more mature than an 8 years old. Same goes for the difference between T (Teen) and M (Mature), since from 13 to 17, one does mature. However, the difference between M (Mature) and AO (Adult Only) is ridiculous. What happens in the magical year between 17 and 18 that makes you eligible for much much more violent/sexual games that you just couldn't handle a year before?

Re:Shocked, shocked I am (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12240194)

What happens in the magical year between 17 and 18 that makes you eligible for much much more violent/sexual games that you just couldn't handle a year before?

Losing your virginity?

Re:Shocked, shocked I am (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 9 years ago | (#12240922)

AO is usually porn games and such, things that, in most states, would be illegal to sell to a minor anyways.

Wrong. (1)

Master_T (836808) | about 9 years ago | (#12235542)

R-rated movies do not sell better than PG stuff. Check the top grossing films of all time. in the top twenty, I saw one R-rated film.

Re:Shocked, shocked I am (3, Interesting)

badasscat (563442) | about 9 years ago | (#12235844)

No I'm not... I said this when they first implemented this monstrosity back when I was working in the game industry.

"Oh.. we only want to help parents to make an educated CHOICE... we don't want to censor anything."


One fact that gets lost in comments like these - and really, you should know better - is that the ESRB is part of the game industry. Literally. It is comprised of all of the game developers and publishers who choose to participate in it. A publisher is perfectly free not to pay the membership fees, not to have ESRB representatives and not to have their games rated. It is a voluntary system that is funded by the publishers themselves. Most publishers choose to be a part of it for several reasons, including the fact that certain large chain stores will not accept unrated games for sale.

As a former member of the industry myself, I know a bit about how the ESRB works. Rating games is an almost shockingly simple yet seemingly arbitrary process. Publishers are told to send samples of the most prurient and violent content of their games, and then a panel of three average people rate what they see. This panel constantly rotates. They do not play the games. They may make their ratings based on the ten minutes of video the publisher sends.

You would think this process would be open to all sorts of abuse on both sides (especially given that it's an industry-funded organization), but in reality there are all sorts of checks and balances that prevent that from happening. There is an appeals process if a publisher believes their game was rated too harshly, and all ratings are subject to review. Conversely, a publisher faces heavy fines (and paying the fines is not voluntary, if you want to keep getting your games rated), not to mention a potential embarassing recall, if they are found to have withheld content that would result in a harsher rating or additional content descriptors.

Most publishers are pretty good about this stuff. It is rarely a surprise to a publisher when a game gets a particular rating or particular content descriptors - I mean most publishers were not born yesterday, they go through this many, many times a year and they pretty much know what to expect. Some of the descriptors themselves can be pretty goofy - I remember one of the games I worked on got a T rating with a descriptor of "Mild Lyrics", whatever the hell that means. "We just want to warn you... these lyrics, are really not that bad!" (The ESRB does provide specific definitions of all descriptors to publishers, but some of them are still a little wacky.) Most of the goofy ones, though, are not really worth worrying about. The one thing that trips some publishers up sometimes are distinctions between things like "cartoon violence" and plain old "violence", which can mean the difference between a T and an M rating. But even that's pretty rare, because the ESRB is pretty specific about what defines each of those descriptors, and again, publishers usually have plenty of past experience to go on.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that this is a more symbiotic relationship than most people think. Yes, publishers can groan every once in a while about the process or their ratings or whatever. But it's not the way a dissident groans about his government; it's more like the way a kid groans about his parents. The ESRB is literally related to the game publishers, and everybody is part of the same industry.

It may surprise many of you to know also that few, if anybody, in the industry want to get rid of the ESRB. Because they know the alternative is government action. The ESRB, as the game industry's self-regulating body, is obviously far preferable to getting congress and law enforcement involved. It's in the industry's best interests for the ESRB to be as effective as possible, and unfortunately the retailers have been letting the industry down in terms of ratings enforcement. At all the ESRB meetings I had to attend (and yes, I groaned at these along with everybody else) the complaints were always centered around retailers screwing everything up for the rest of the industry, not about the ESRB itself.

Censorship breeds stupidity (1)

CDarklock (869868) | about 9 years ago | (#12237393)

There's one basic incontrovertible fact. If you do not expose your child to something, the child is incapable of learning anything from it.

And that's why we want to censor things and protect children: we are afraid they will learn the wrong thing. We trade the possibility of learning the wrong thing for the certainty of learning nothing at all.

But we also have a very broad definition of "the wrong thing". The wrong thing is "anything I don't want you to learn yet". And what we don't want our children to learn is primarily the things that we would be uncomfortable explaining.

When you come down to it, we're not censoring for the children. We're censoring for our own personal comfort. The children aren't even part of the equation. So we don't really *care* if it makes them a little stupider and less capable. It's not about them, it's about us, and our comfort level with the subject matter... which is why complaints about this sort of thing are just fundamentally offensive to me.

So pardon me if I don't jump on this particular bandwagon. You know what we really need? Parents who give a shit about their children. Every minute you spend out there trying to protect your children from the evil nasty videogames is a minute you COULD spend *with* them, and with enough of those... why, they wouldn't even need videogames.

Re:Censorship breeds stupidity (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | about 9 years ago | (#12241102)

If you do not expose your child to something, the child is incapable of learning anything from it.
So, I'm an uneducated simpleton because I've never played GTA? What important life lesson have I missed?
And what we don't want our children to learn is primarily the things that we would be uncomfortable explaining.
Or anything we would be uncomfortable with them emulating.
You know what we really need? Parents who give a shit about their children.
That seems to be exactly what you are opposed to. Seriously, why shouldn't parents know and control what their kids are buying? Or more generally, why shouldn't consumers know what it is they're buying before they open the package and can't return it? This isn't some government plot to deprive you of fun games, this is consumer protection in the form of product labeling, self imposed by game companies.

Re:Censorship breeds stupidity (1)

CDarklock (869868) | about 9 years ago | (#12244226)

> I'm an uneducated simpleton because
> I've never played GTA?

No, but I propose that you *might* learn something useful and positive from GTA. There *might* be a baby in that bathwater. Perhaps you should check before throwing it out.

> Seriously, why shouldn't parents know and
> control what their kids are buying?

They should, and in that order. If you have never played GTA, you do not know enough about it to control your children's access to it appropriately, so you shouldn't try to control it until you *do* know enough about it.

Once you've played it, you can make an informed decision. Or, on the other hand, you can trust people like Senator Clinton to know their way around videogames... and as long as we're dreaming, maybe you'd like a pony, too.

Most parents are too bound up in the controlling to spend much time on the knowing, which is basically the blind leading the naked. Sure, children are vulnerable, but the willfully ignorant aren't exactly qualified to protect them.

Re:Censorship breeds stupidity (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 9 years ago | (#12246454)

I think you should probably wait until you are a parent or at least have some exposure to younger children to comment on how parents should raise their kids. Most parents are not worried about stuff "I don't want you to learn yet" but rather "this is simply too complicated to be absorbed at all so random misinformation is going to be absorbed if it is taught at this point".

I play board games with my daughter all the time. The age ratings are very useful. Its hard to know in advance: does the game involve simple or complex rules, do you need to be able to read or will color / shape recognition be enough, do the tactics and strategies go beyond 1 level deep...? These sorts of issues are frankly for adults to see even if they have played the game in advance.

Not a replacement (5, Insightful)

9mm Censor (705379) | about 9 years ago | (#12235120)

A rating system no matter how good it is, is not an excuse for poor parenting.

We Want Excuses! (1)

Alaren (682568) | about 9 years ago | (#12235389)

Right, which is the saddest part of the ratings problem. Excuses for poor parenting are exactly what most people want...

Re:Not a replacement (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12235541)

The point of ratings is to enable good parenting.

Why do I never have mod points when I need them? (1)

PhoenixOne (674466) | about 9 years ago | (#12238728)

Parent post should be +5 Insightful

Parents that care + Information = Good Parenting!

The ratings are a great idea, and I think they did a wonderful job creating the system, but just like the poison warning symbol on that container of anti-freeze they only work if the parents take the time to teach their kids.

Re:Not a replacement (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 9 years ago | (#12236419)

A rating system no matter how good it is, is not an excuse for poor parenting.

Not an escuse for NOT having a rating system.

Re:Not a replacement (2, Interesting)

macrom (537566) | about 9 years ago | (#12238708)

A rating system no matter how good it is, is not an excuse for poor parenting.

True, but parents need a guide. We can't possibly know everything about every game out there, so we need to make quick decision for our children when we're renting and purchasing games. Cartoonish games like Jak 2 and 3, Ratchet & Clank, etc. all carry "T" ratings, but otherwise how would we know about all of the violence in those games? The covers look innocent enough. Some are obvious, like GTA, Halo, war simulations. Others like the aforementioned titles are not. Without these ratings, parents are stuck guessing at the content based on the cover.

It also helps when your child is out of your reach, such as at a friend's house. We just tell other parents that there are no "T" or "M" rated games for our kids, and we expect them to honor that. Despite what all of the naysayers around here want to cry, a parent can't be everywhere at once.

Article mixing facts (4, Insightful)

frikazoyd (845667) | about 9 years ago | (#12235200)

First of all, the ESRB is doing its job. They take a game, and I'm sure they have a tally sheet marking whether games have certain degrees of violence type 1,2, and 3, or whether it has certain degrees of nudity. That's not the issue.

The article paints a picture of "lawmakers vs. ESRB", but it mentions one Republican who is accusing the ESRB of being too light on handing out AOs, and another (Clinton) of launching an investigation into the effects of M games.

Now, read that again. Clinton (and, for that matter, almost every other lawmaker "fighting the good fight") doesn't have a problem with the rating system, they have a problem with the games. The article only has one quote from one senator that thinks the ESRB is not tough enough. Then the article goes on to point out how tough the ESRB is. And the insight they give there is pretty spot-on, espeically the comparisons between the MPAA and the ESRB.

However, the majority of the article is a defense against the first politician's quote, and doesn't really hold water against the other attacks (which are against videogames that have been rated M, not the rating system itself). Besides, it isn't the ESRB's job to ensure that games rated M aren't sold to 17 year olds, it is the retailer's job. And video game (only) retail stores are pretty scuzzy to begin with, especially the chain ones.

Re:Article mixing facts (1)

sm4kxd (683513) | about 9 years ago | (#12235912)

On most of those points I agree. It's not the ESRB's job to regulate what gets sold to who, but with the job of rating games comes quite a responsibility, which I personally believe the ESRB is slipping on. Anyone who has played Rockstar's Manhunt will tell you that the game "include[s] graphic depictions of sex and/or violence [pulled from the AO rating definition on esrb.org]" yet why the game is not rated AO is completely beyond me. There are a handful of other top selling games whose ratings are quite questionable.

I think that the real problem is parent's don't know where to go to learn about video games on their own. Unfortunately most parents don't bother to watch their kids play these games. They put all of their faith into the little letter on the box (sometimes they don't even do that). When they feel they have been misguided by it, they are opening fire on who put it there. Bottom line is that the ESRB could use a bit more clarifation, and the general public (seems like in any case) just needs more education.

Censor is BS (2, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | about 9 years ago | (#12235236)

How come every other country has managed to launch movies/games with virtually no censor labels. Yet we Americans are the ones with super high crime rates, blaming video games.

The parent is the one responsible for communicating to the kids what's appropriate or not. Not the fucking paper label.

Re:Censor is BS (4, Informative)

frikazoyd (845667) | about 9 years ago | (#12235350)

I don't know what world you live in, but in this world countries have banned several video games, and that fact was used as a selling point here in America. The only thing we really censor is nudity, we just try to control the amount of violence that a child observes here in America.

Example, Carmageddon was banned in Australia I believe, as well as Postal 2 and more that I can't remember off hand.

Also, it may be the parent's job to do so, but you have to admit that children can be pretty convincing/conniving if they want a game that is "Adult" enough. And, the industry is pretty guilty of trying to sell on that type of appeal, whether they want to admit it or not.

Re:Censor is BS (1)

faloi (738831) | about 9 years ago | (#12235360)

The parent is the one responsible for communicating to the kids what's appropriate or not. Not the fucking paper label.

Nah. The belief is it takes a village to raise a child. So it doesn't matter what you screw up as a parent, because you always get to blame the village. You've only gotta look at some of the headlines nowadays to see that's the way people (politicians, media, whatever) spin it. The era of personal responsibilty seems to be gone.

Re:Censor is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12235566)

I say this constantly, but -- do idiots like yourself ever consider getting a passport and going to a foreign country, instead of just yammering about how in the rest of the world lollipops rain from the sky?

Yeah, no other country has any censorship or labeling. Or comparable crime rates. Sure.

Re:Censor is BS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12237385)

The parent is the one responsible for communicating to the kids what's appropriate or not. Not the fucking paper label.

And the fucking paper label is there to help give the parents a hint about what the game contains. Which will help them decide whether it's what they want their kids playing or not. Which will help them communicate to their kids what's appropriate.

So remind me again what your fucking problem is?

The trouble with the ESRB. (5, Insightful)

ronfar (52216) | about 9 years ago | (#12235378)

People have gotten used to the movie rating system. They know what G, PG, and R mean. (I know PG-13 and NC-17 are in there too, but I think those are both more ambiguous.).

G - Kid's cartoon
PG - Action movie without much violence
R - Movie with enough violence and/or sex to be a concern for children

Do people know what E, T, M mean? Well, I was reading a review of The Incredibles for Gamecube on Amazon. The angry dad reviewer said he wanted to get the game for his kid, but he was upset that it was "Teen" rated. He thought it was inappropriate for a game based on a G Rated movie (of course, The Incredibles was PG, but never mind.).

It's clear that T, in this case, was meant to indicate a PG rated game. Instead, T means an age group. It is more like the "reccomended for kids 8 and up" notes on toys than a movie rating.

Some parents see the system as:

E = games for kids
T = games for thuggy teenagers
M = X-Rated games that should be banned.

So, of course the ERSB gets no respect. They've failed to create a coherent rating system.

Re:The trouble with the ESRB. (2, Insightful)

JocksRPeople2 (870509) | about 9 years ago | (#12235839)

There's also a huge difference between 13 and 18, both being in the "Teen" rating group.

Re:The trouble with the ESRB. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 9 years ago | (#12240178)

There's also a huge difference between 13 and 18, both being in the "Teen" rating group.
No, the "Teen" rating group is from 13 to 16 inclusive. The "Mature" rating group targets the one-year window of 17, while Adults-Only starts at 18+.

The ratings are listed here [esrb.org] , complete with both general descriptions and the minimal age.

SPOT ON! That's *exactly* it (1)

gmrc.2 (674908) | about 9 years ago | (#12237165)

As digital content means more things to more people a universal rating system should be implemented. A PG movie, or a PG album or a PG game or a PG TV show should be on same plain of existance, and should have a rating to reflect that. But today we have PG movies, E games, TV-14 (or something) TV shows, and EXPLICIT LYRIC albums. Come on ... that's a mess.

As more content comes out on more formats, a simple consistant rating system will be needed for everyone's sake and for everyone's friggin piece of mind.

Re:The trouble with the ESRB. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 9 years ago | (#12240256)

Do people know what E, T, M mean? Well, I was reading a review of The Incredibles for Gamecube on Amazon. The angry dad reviewer said he wanted to get the game for his kid, but he was upset that it was "Teen" rated. He thought it was inappropriate for a game based on a G Rated movie (of course, The Incredibles was PG, but never mind.).
The ESRB has recently released an additional rating "E-10", which is designed to handle this sort of situation. It's basically compatable with PG, whereas T is now associated with PG-13.

Of course, the ESRB rating system still feels artificial - the most common example would be any presence of red blood (even if it's the PC cuts himself with a Jinsu knife in an adventure game, as in Willy Beamish) results in an automatic 'M' for some reason.

Re:The trouble with the ESRB. (1)

PyroMosh (287149) | about 9 years ago | (#12241962)

That's always been a sticking point for me. *ANY* red pixels = automatic "M", where as in a game like Splinter Cell, you can draw a bead on two guys having a conversation about the wife and kids of one of them, then take aim, and calmly shoot him in the head. But because there's no red, it gets away with a "T".

To me, the "gallons" of blood portrayed in Mortal Kombat are simply comical by comparison. Where Splinter Cell's violence is cold blooded and calculated execution of a human life.

I realize that there comes a line where any rating system must be arbitrary, but this seems particularly rediculous to me.

Worms Armageddon rated E with red blood (1)

Magic Thread (692357) | about 9 years ago | (#12258021)

The worms in Worms Armageddon bleed, and that still received an E rating. (They don't bleed by default, but one of the single player missions gives you an option to turn on blood, if I remember correctly.)

When i was young (2, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#12235455)

We had a raitings and do you know what they ment to me when i was 12 , 13 or 14
(UK ratings)
U-(univeraly safe) Boring no chance of nudity of cool fights
UC(universal for children) yawn even less chance of nakidness or violence
pg-(parental guidance)possibly someone will say sh*t , or someone will bleed , yawn still no nudity

12:(age min) hm this could be ok , perhaps some blood and explosions , still no nakedness though

15:(age min)could be some really cool gore , not much chance of nakedness but we may see a nipple WOOO

18:(Age min) wow must see this , this film is for 18 year olds so it must have some great naked women in it and /or some cool violance with exploding heads ...
You see this is why raitings don't work , you slap an 18 or mature on it and kids are going to go out of there way to play it or whatch it . you ban it and you make it a cult .
Gouverment sanctioned censorship just does not work.
I say slap a PG on everything , as honestly it is up to parents to raise their children .
When i have children i will decide what they whatch not some rating designed by a bored that does not know my child , Children mature at difrent rates, alot of children will be fine playing a game like GTA 3 when they are 11 or , but some may be disturbed by a film like Ghostbusters when they are 17.

I'll tell you whats f'd up about ESRB. (4, Funny)

JVert (578547) | about 9 years ago | (#12235517)

So I buy the collectors edition right? it has all the marketing hype on the back on a peice of shiny paper that is tacked on with glue. The rest of the box is all themed out except the stupid little ESRB rating on the front.

Re:I'll tell you whats f'd up about ESRB. (1)

Rufus88 (748752) | about 9 years ago | (#12241233)

So I buy the collectors edition right?

How the hell should we know?

yay mind control! (1)

Zareste (761710) | about 9 years ago | (#12235519)

Well, they tell people what they're allowed to see. If you find that justifiable, feel free to move to China, Ethiopia, Iran or any other location ruled by mindless people such as yourself. I'd have recommended Germany but you guys pulled out of there in 1949.

Re:yay mind control! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 9 years ago | (#12236290)

If you want to complain about ratings you should have left Germany in there which has one of the most problematic ratings systems available. When PEGI was introduced this country was the only one not to care. Well, at least the USK has their examination regulations available online, unlike the ESRB and actually plays the games (they demand cheats in case the game gets too hard...).

But still, it deprived us of Doom3: RoE and God of War. Meh, at least Resident Evil 4 made it to the stores albeit with two game modes missing...

Re:yay mind control! (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | about 9 years ago | (#12237239)

Considering that Germany is in the same region for console games as the UK, France etc. how much of a market is there for importing these banned games? Or is it mostly limited by language barriers? Or do people like Amazon.co.uk (etc.) just refuse to ship the games to Germany?

Anyone else notice.... (1)

Col. Blackwolf (778676) | about 9 years ago | (#12235535)

That all of the examples of "what is in these horrible horrible games all come from one specific game? Namely GTA, everyone's favourite whipping boy.

They should really pass a law that forces politicians to actually have a clue about things before they shoot there mouths off. Of course, that will never happen, as it would put them all out of work.

FuckedCompany said this a few weeks ago... (2)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 9 years ago | (#12235690)

I've never actually spent too much time thinking about the ESRB, although I find the two letters "AO" to be extremely exciting. Though I've often thought about "TD" and GH", and as a freshman in college, I always tried to use "IE" and "EG" as much as possible, I've been thinking that interspersing my conversation with random two and three, sometimes four letter random strings, will make me look so much more educated. Did I mention that I actually have a PHD in addition to my CSBS?

The ESRB is not a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12236238)

In just the same way that many movie theaters will not show films branded with an 'NC-17' rating, the 'AO' severely limits a game's distribution, to put it mildly.

Maybe theathers don't show many films rated NC-17 because they are not money makers for them.

I don't know about everyone else, but I generally decide what games I'm going to buy then order them or download them. If my local game store doesn't carry them its not going to stop me from buying them. However, the 'AO'[sic] might stop some kids from buying it that otherwise could purchase and play it without thier legal guardians ever knowing.

The ESRB is doing a decent job. Maybe some parents / guardians should step up and try rearing their children.

Why won't they sell AO games? (1)

tepp (131345) | about 9 years ago | (#12236416)

I don't understand why a video game store can't keep an "adult" section, just like a bookstore has the adult porn section. Tastefully closed off from the general public.

If Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was rated AO - which it probably should be considering it has rampant violence and Vice City at least had cartoon nudity (I have not yet played San Andreas, waiting for the XBOX version)... I would still buy it. And a lot of adults would still buy it. It would be stupid for stores not to sell it.

I think part of the problem is video game stores are fairly small. There really isn't room for a "back room" where an employee can make sure only adults go into, like in a bookstore or a video store. So rather than deal with the hassle of selling AO games, they just refuse to deal with it... which is stupid.

I'm 27 years old. I have a right to buy porn, to buy Grand Theft Auto, and to buy alcohol. While stores have a responsiblity to keep all of these items out of the hands of minors, them refusing to sell these items to me is just retarded.

Re:Why won't they sell AO games? (2, Informative)

ronfar (52216) | about 9 years ago | (#12236959)

You want to know the answer to that question?

Ask Jesus Castillo... [cbldf.org]

The details of the case:

1. Jesus Castillo managed a comic book store which had an "Adults Only" section.

2. Some concerned citizens in the area decided to make an example out of him. They sent a Vice Squad cop in to buy a copy of the Legend of the Overfiend manga.

3. Jesus Castillo was arrested for obscenity. His case wended it's way through the courts. The Supreme Court denied his last appeal.

4. As of August 5th, 2003 Castillo was still on probation for his conviction on an obscenity charge.

No retailer wants this kind of heat unless they are in the adult services industry and are used to it. (Even then they don't want it.)

More references...

Dirty Pictures [dallasobserver.com]

a bad precedent: Texas v. Castillo [asmallvictory.net]

Re:Why won't they sell AO games? (1)

Flendon (857337) | about 9 years ago | (#12241460)

Most of the stores that don't carry AO games are part of the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA). If you look at there membership [iema.org] it is mostly large retail stores that don't have room for or want a backroom. Small (physical size, not company size) chain stores usually keep the AO games in the open with the other games. The boxes themselves don't show anything unlike pr0n so it doesn't need to be closed off to the gerneral public. Just have the clerks use common sense and not sell an AO game to a 10 year old.

Simple solution (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | about 9 years ago | (#12236885)

ESRB could probably double their credibility instantly by simply changing the rating symbols.

Announce a "brand new" ratings system and make a straight 1:1 switch to MPAA ratings.

E -> G
Y? -> PG (can't remember letter)
T -> PG-13
M -> R
AO -> X

In spite of all their efforts, parents just aren't getting it. Perhaps it's time to switch to something they already understand.

Fairly interesting (2, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | about 9 years ago | (#12237006)

I guess what struck me as amusing was the difference between a game rated M (Mature) and a game rated AO (adult only). For M games, the age range is 17 and up. For AO games, it's 18 and up. It's amazing how in one year we can change from being unable to handle graphic acts of violence and sexual content and then bam, we hit 18 and everything is cool. They do make an interesting point that the content in a movie is not held up to the standards of games because a movie isn't interactive. Which makes sense...sort of. They talk about how AO is sort of a kiss of death for a game title. A lot of stores won't carry them..despite that there is only a +1 to age when compared to M. So game companies have to change a lot of their content to get that M rating. Too bad...I wish they would just sell it AO...adults should be able to make their own choices on how they are entertained. But think of the children...right? I don't know about other people, but I don't want children to dictate my life. Parents and retailers need to be responsible in selling games...it's as simple as that. The whole Clinton study is BS unless they are only doing testing on people 17+. I think the current administration has taken shoving THIER morals down other's throats way too far. It makes me sad to see that the Democrats are jumping on this band wagon too. Agressive and screwed up chidren or going to gravitate to watching violence and playing violent games. It's not the games that make them agressive and screwed up. Does it have some effect? Sure, after playing a racing game, I tend to drive a little faster. After watching power rangers, some kids may play a little more rough. But it's really the parents and community that have a lasting effect on a kid's choices. But in certain cases...the kids are just screwed up. Place the blame on the kids that commit the crimes. There is too much of this "it's X fault" they went astray. Ok...off my soap box...but it drives me nuts. Why aren't the people we put in power intelligent enough to know these simple things? Or do they know this and are they just trying to get re-elected?

ao 1*+ has to do with pornagraphy laws (1)

cyrax777 (633996) | about 9 years ago | (#12242372)

not the violent content but becouse they are to put it bluntly porn games. every AO game out there that 99.9% of the time is a Porn game.

Re:ao 1*+ has to do with pornagraphy laws (1)

brkello (642429) | about 9 years ago | (#12242788)

Hmm, while I am not an expert on the ESRB...the article sure made it sound like graphic violence was enough to bump it up to AO. If it was just pornography...I guess I would understand...but I think violent content goes in there as well (more so than just an M...I think the example used Manhunt and how it got an AO at first...not sure if it had porn, but it made it sound like really graphic violence was the problem.
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