The Truth in Video Game Rating Act, proposed by Senator Sam Brownback, requires the ESRB to actually play the fully completed game. Currently, ESRB rates the game based on a video demonstration given to them by the developers. Just for the record, I’ve never once played a violent or non-violent game and decided the ESRB rating was inappropriate. Brownback also stated, “It would also prohibit video game producers and distributors from withholding or hiding playable content from a ratings organization”. Hiding or withholding playable content? If a game demonstration has a strong amount of violence, it automatically puts the game in to a M-rating. What we don’t see, are A-rated (Adults Only) games. Maybe that’s what Brownback wants?
On top of the new requirement, Brownback’s bill would also require the Federal Trade Commission to specifically define parameters for describing game content and what would count as a mischaracterization of a game’s content. The current video game ratings system needs improvement because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don’t even play the games they are supposed to rate. For video game ratings to be meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust, the game ratings must be more objective and accurate.
Mom just didn’t know that Hitman: Blood Money was about a hired assassin! On top of that, the ESRB is also being watched over by the Government Accountability Office to rate the performance of the group and look into alternative systems of game ratings. Yikes! The ESRB must be facing some serious pressure now. Don’t be suprised if the new Grand Theft Auto faces some serious heat before it’s released.
New ESRB Legislation [gamasutra]