Can Parents Trust the ESRB Ratings?

Not open for further replies.
Jun 20, 2018
I posted a very lengthy comment elsewhere last year that I'll shorten here but the examples won't be the most recent games and your article does mention the differences in rating physical and digital games which does help explain what's going on a bit. However, I still don't understand why the ratings/descriptors change so often on digital games and they do change which is something most people might not realize. Does the publisher tell the ESRB that the initial rating is inaccurate or do patches change games enough that the game needs to be re-rated?

Here's part of what I wrote last year: I only notice the ratings because I database games and place the ratings on them and thus ESRB keeps creating extra work for me when I need to backtrack every time they make a change (I do receive updates with the changes so I do know when they occur at least). Here is a very recent example. When 99Vidas released last month it had an ESRB rating of E. Having looked at the screenshots when I put the game in the database I remarked to a co-worker that the game clearly has violence so even if it deserves an E it should have some descriptors like mild cartoon violence perhaps. If you are a parent who relies on the ratings you'd likely allow your kid to get 99Vidas on the day it released since it is rated E, and that's probably the end of it as a parent. Well, ESRB has since changed the rating to T and lists Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Comic Mischief as descriptors. Depending on the parent, they might not be too happy with that purchase now but would they even ever know the rating changed? Probably not unless they actually play games with their kid. There are many more examples out there where changes like this are happening.

To some these change probably don't seem like a big deal and normally I wouldn't even look at the rating since I'm an adult without kids and simply play what I want to play. However, making these changes to ratings weeks, months, or even a year after a game releases indicates the ESRB ratings system is flawed, especially for digital game releases.
May 4, 2018
I can remember seeing the 80's movie Gremlins when it was rated 18 I believe at the time, when I was 12. Most of my friends joked about these things and carried on and laughed about it, I'm presuming because their parents had let them watch it all and they'd been desensitized already.

Me not so much. I can clearly and vividly remember not being able to get to the bathroom at night for a good 2 weeks. I was completely terrified there was something under my bed waiting for me. It was not until my father showed me some pictures of the behind the scenes and bought me an actual Mugwai that I calmed down.

My point being that the ratings are there for a damn good reason and I support them wholeheartedly AS ADVISORY. Parents discretion will be better aided by them, as some kids just aren't ready and others are ahead of the curve. On that note, all violence should be rated higher, and all sexual content should be rated lower.

Been ogling Playboys since I was 8, no trauma. Saw Gremlins at 12, decimated.


I had older brothers, and we had basically one TV. Not going to get a teenager to not play their games/movies just because the younger sibling is around. A lot different today with laptops, tablets, etc. You can keep everyone entertained, but that leads to separation, which may be worse in the long run.

I think it comes down to family dynamic, the attitude of the child in question, and really should be up to the parent's discretion. Though you do have irresponsible parents, but not a whole lot you can do about that without complete intervention.

I got into PC games just before the ESRB starting putting things on games, but back then it wasn't enforced at all. I can distinctly remember picking up a copy of Duke Nukem 3D when I was maybe 11?


Mar 12, 2008
It is hard to dictate how every parent should raise every child, though SO many people try, especially online, passing judgement no matter what your decisions are. Personally, I don't agree with the rules of the ratings. I don't think swearing, nor sex, should be as big of an issue as violence. It's been proven time and time again that swearing has no little effect on a person's intellect, and even some articles proving that people swearing actually have a larger intellect and vocabulary. That's more a matter of teaching your child about 'proper place, proper time'. I swear all the time at home, but I also go on almost every field trip with my son, and obviously never swear then. I've talked to him about it, and pointed it out to him.
Same with sex. Children should know about sex (and, no, I'm not talking about picking up hookers on GTA5, or whatever). Sexual content is fine; sex is normal. And something I would hope would be part of his future. Better he knows about it and be informed than seclude him from LIFE.
Violence, however, is not something I'd want to see as being part of his normal life. Fantasy and playing games is one thing, but you need to make sure that they understand that it is fantasy, and not a way to treat anyone in real life. Even with that being said, I'll still never allow any GTA games in my home. This is not a point to create an argument. If you disagree, that's fine. People have different beliefs. I like pineapple on pizza, and some ass-hats want to go as far as making it illegal. I'm not saying to make the game illegal, but I have no interest in it being anywhere around me.
The biggest, most important thing, regardless of any ratings on games, movies, etc, is to be a part of your child's life. Don't pick up a game based on a rating and not find out about it. And talk to your child about what is appropriate and not appropriate. It's your responsibility to raise them and prepare them for the world.

Jake Hall

Aug 28, 2013

"Mom, watch!... I can give the stripper money!" Doom and Diablo were also both staples in my childhood

Not open for further replies.