ESRB Changes Ratings For Download Games

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Reported on gaming newsgroups, the ESRB won’t look at downloadable games until after release, following a change in its the rating procedure.

Gaming newsgroups report that the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) which is responsible for rating all of the games released and judging which age group is appropriate for the content of each game has been flooded by the availability of new downloadable games available each week. The system, up to now, has relied on ESRB employees personally rating each game before release. The flood of downloadable video games being created every week has become too much for the ESRB and in an attempt to streamline the ratings process a computer program will now be used to decide a game’s rating.

Previously, every game was vetted by a independent panel, and a report would then be written detailing exactly why a game received a rating. Now, publishers will be given much more power, as they will have to fill out a digital questionnaire which will then be used to determine the rating the game receives.

The computer then analyzes the readings and awards the game a rating based on the answers that were given. At the moment, only games on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network will be scrutinized by the computer. The system is designed to have no human beings to help out with the rating process.

For now, mobile, Facebook and all other types of games will continue to undergo the traditional rating process, which involves completion of a more open-ended questionnaire and review of a content DVD by a minimum of three raters who reach consensus on the appropriate rating.

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