In today's main Gamasutra feature, and taken from the pages of the latest Game Developer magazine
, this Paul Hyman-penned article provides an overview and comparision of the video game rating systems of four countries—the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Australia.
In this extract, the ESRB's head Patricia Vance discusses the future of ratings and the issues of giving games an AO rating:
"Vance acknowledges that the next generation of game consoles and more advanced technology will definitely change the face of the industry, thereby affecting the ratings system. “I certainly think the online environment is a challenging one for us,” she notes, “especially when gamers can generate their own content, say, through mods. That's an area where parents need to be more vigilant, and one that I'm not so sure we can do much about.”
Developers have queried the rating system on occasion, saying that there is a place for mature games, but that large retailers refuse to sell anything with an AO (for 18 years and older) rating. Vance, however, believes that what happens in the marketplace should not be blamed on the ESRB, refusing to let herself or the organization be held responsible for such outcomes.
“That's the marketplace making up its own mind, not us. We're just here to accurately label product. If retailers choose not to sell AO product for whatever reasons—because they don't think it will sell, or they don't think their customers want them to carry it, or it doesn't fit in with their family-friendly image—that's their decision. Not ours.”"
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including exclusive interviews with the rating bodies for four major countries, and plenty of insight into how games are rated as they are (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).