The Controversy of Video Game Ratings

By: Patrick O’Shea and Mike Schneid

There has been a lot of controversy regarding video games ever since their arrival in 1958.  The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) was established in 1994 in to combat the problems of the content shown in games such as Doom and Mortal Combat.  To evaluate the appropriateness of a game the ESRB uses a rating system which gives parents and vendors a scale on what is okay for their kids to play.  The rating system ranges from early childhood to adults only based on the content that is involved in the game.  It can sometimes become an issue when publishers make too many mature video games.

   The problem is there is a misunderstanding of parents of the rating system.  There is a large percentage, which is around 60 percent, of children who list their favorite video game as an M rated game.  In 2005 there was only 52 percent of vendors educating their workers on the ESRB rating system.  The parties which are the main fighters in the debate in video games are the ESRB, parents, and vendors. This is due to the fact that  the ESRB wants the rating to be reinforced, while parents and vendors are more lenient when it comes to underage children being able to purchase and play video games that are inappropriate.  The issue affects the average American due to the impact the unawareness of video games has on children.  This is bad for Americans because the next generation is being exposed to a large amount of violence and profanity by playing games that are above their age level.  The future of this problem will only change if there is a raised awareness in parents on the impact of the games their children are playing, and there is a need for better enforcement of the ESRB rating system by vendors.

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