The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) debuted a new website today titled "The Family Gaming Guide." It's a resource for parents trying to determine which games are age-appropriate for their children--with extra advice about navigating the world of online games and microtransactions.
The new website doesn't come with any immediate rating changes developers need to know about, but its existence should be on the radar for anyone who knows that children are among their playerbase.
Whether you're working on games aimed at kids like Roblox or just happen to know they're in your M-rated game's playerbase like Apex Legends (it remains very funny when the demonic robot in your squad pops into voice chat with a squeaky, halting voice), the ESRB wants parents to know more about modern video games.
ESRB president Patricia E. Vance wrote in a blog introducing the guide that its goal is to "highlight key tips and information in an easily digestible way so parents can find what they need and get back to the game."
It's notable that the Family Gaming Guide offers much more nuance and explanation for parents befuddled by the intricacies of modern online games. ESRB ratings don't generally directly cover concepts like microtransactions, loot boxes, or possibly toxic online chat.
This guide breaks these topics (and others) out into a number of sections that can't be summed up in a rating.
Developers may want to peruse those topics to see if their game falls into the category of titles mentioned by the ESRB, and keep an eye on what age group those titles are being recommended to. And maybe if you've got parents in your life, you can pass it on to them so they don't keep asking you to recommend games for their kids.