If you’re a gamer, then you’re probably aware that right now there is a major Supreme Court case going on right now regarding how mature games will be handled. Depending on the decision made, the entire industry can be negatively impacted, but the ESRB has just released an app for iOS and Android devices that could greatly help the fight.
As a person who has worked in video game retail, I can tell you firsthand that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is very helpful and are there for a good reason. Many parents have no clue about what is in a game these days, and they blindly purchase titles that could very well be unfit for younger children. One instance that comes to mind is when Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came out. Compared to most games on the market, especially Manhunt, GTA isn’t that bad, but I still wouldn’t let my 7 year old daughter play it or watch me play it. At the time, I was an Assistant Manager at GameStop and I’d see many kids, around the age my daughter is now, walk in with their parents begging for San Andreas. The parents, not having a clue as to what their child was talking about, would grab the display box and walk up to the register looking slightly puzzled by the graphics and description on the back.
Now, the easy thing would’ve been to look at the ESRB rating that is on the front of the box, and then flip the case over and read the reasons why it was given that rating. Instead, I would go about and inform the parent about the game, about the content, and ask if they were sure they wanted to purchase the game. Yeah, I was the bad guy, but you can’t imagine how many parents were thankful that I took the time to make sure they were making an informed purchase.
What has always boggled my mind is how everybody is familiar with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and their ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17), and most parents use those ratings to help determine which movies to take their children to, but they don’t even think about paying attention to the rating found on the front of a game case that is glaring at them straight in the face. If a fraction of those parents took the time to educate themselves about the ESRB and how the video game system ratings work, we wouldn’t have the problems like we do, and court cases like the one going on right now wouldn’t need to exist.
The ESRB is hoping that with this latest mobile application they can reach millions of parents within seconds, and without the help of a store clerk who may or may not care about what they are about to purchase. All a parent has to do is open the app, take a picture of the case, and in seconds they will have access to a ratings summary of the game and more. It’s seriously that simple, and with almost everybody owning an iOS or Android device there really shouldn’t be any excuses as to why people aren’t using this app, especially since it’s free.
To download the app for your iOS device, click here.