Video game content rating system
A video game content rating system is a system used for the classification of video games into suitability-related groups. Most of these systems are associated with and/or sponsored by a government, and are sometimes part of the local motion picture rating system. The utility of such ratings has been called into question by studies that publish findings such as 90% of teenagers claim that their parents "never" check the ratings before allowing them to rent or buy video games, and as such calls have been made to "fix" the existing rating systems. Video game content rating systems can be used as the basis for laws that cover the sales of video games to minors, such as in Australia. Rating checking and approval is part of the game localization when they are being prepared for their distribution in other countries or locales. These rating systems have also been used to voluntarily restrict sales of certain video games by stores, such as the German retailer Kaufhof's removing all video games rated 18+ by the USK following the Winnenden school shooting.
Similar to other forms of media, video games have been the subject of argument between leading professionals and restriction and prohibition. Often these bouts of criticism come from use of debated topics such as video game graphic violence, virtual sex, violent and gory scenes, partial or full nudity, drug use, portrayal of criminal behavior or other provocative and objectionable material.
Video games have also been studied for links to addiction and aggression. Several studies have found that video games do not contribute to these problems. Further, several groups have argued that few if any scientifically proven studies exist to back up these claims, and that the video game industry has become an easy target for the media to blame for many modern day problems. Furthermore, numerous researchers have proposed potential positive effects of video games on aspects of social and cognitive development and psychological well-being. It has been shown that action video game players have better hand-eye coordination and visuo-motor skills, such as their resistance to distraction, their sensitivity to information in the peripheral vision and their ability to count briefly presented objects, than non-players.
Rating systems 
Regional and national 
The Australian Classification Board (ACB) is a statutory classification body formed by the Australian Government which classifies films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia since its establishment in 1970. The Australian Classification Board was originally incorporated in the Office of Film and Literature Classification which was dissolved in 2006. The Attorney-General's Department now provides administrative support to the Board. Decisions made by the Board may be reviewed by the Australian Classification Review Board.
The Department of Justice, Rating, Titles and Qualification ('DJCTQ') (Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e Qualificação in Portuguese) rates films, games and television programs in Brazil. It is controlled by the Ministry of Justice (Ministério da Justiça).
Republic of China 
The Computer Software Rating Regulation (電腦軟體分級辦法) (CSRR) is a rating system used in the Republic of China (Taiwan) for computer software, including computer/console/handheld games. Arcade game machines has a separate regulation and is not governed by the CSRR.
Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a European video game content rating system established to help European parents make informed decisions on buying computer games with logos on games boxes. It was developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) and came into use in April 2003; it replaced many national age rating systems with a single European system. The PEGI system is now used in more than thirty countries and is based on a code of conduct, a set of rules to which every publisher using the PEGI system is contractually committed. PEGI self-regulation is composed by five age categories and eight content descriptors that advise the suitability and content of a game for a certain age range based on the games content. The age rating does not indicate the difficulty of the game or the skill required to play it.
Finnish Centre for Media Education and Audiovisual Media (in Finnish Mediakasvatus- ja kuvaohjelmakeskus, in Swedish Centralen för mediefostran och bildprogram (both: MEKU)) is an official institution of the Finnish Ministry of Education. It is responsible for the age-ratings of films, television programs and interactive games. Only material intended to be accessible to minors (those under 18 years of age) is subject to classification before being released to the public; sex films do not need to be classified (but they have to be marked clearly with the age limit 18). Films and television programmes are classified by authorized classifiers, trained by the Centre. The classifiers usually work within the media industry.
Entertainment Software Rating Association (Persian: اسرا) (ESRA) is a governmental video game content rating system that is used in Iran. Games that cannot be rated are considered illegal and cannot be sold.
Contents Soft Association 
Computer Entertainment Rating Organization 
The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (特定非営利活動法人コンピュータエンターテインメントレーティング機構 Tokutei Hieiri Katsudō Hōjin Konpyūta Entāteinmento Rētingu Kikō ) (CERO) is an organization that rates video games and PC games (except dating sims, visual novels, and eroge) in Japan with levels of rating that informs the customer of the nature of the product and for what age group it is suitable. It was established on July 2002 as a branch of Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association, and became an officially recognized non-profit organization in 2003.
Ethics Organization of Computer Software 
The Ethics Organization of Computer Software (一般社団法人コンピュータソフトウェア倫理機構 Ippan Shadan Hōjin Konpyūta Sofutowea Rinri Kikō ) (EOCS, or Sofurin) is an incorporated association that rates PC games (dating sims, visual novels, and eroge) in Japan.
New Zealand 
The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC, Māori: Te Tari Whakaropu Tukuata, Tuhituhinga) is the government agency in New Zealand that is responsible for classification of all films, videos, publications, and some video games in New Zealand. It was created by the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (FVPC Act), replacing various film classification acts, and is an independent Crown Entity in terms of the Crown Entities Act 2004. The head of the OFLC is called the Chief Censor, maintaining a title that has described the government officer in charge of censorship in New Zealand since 1916.
North America 
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines, and ensures responsible online privacy principles for computer and video games and other entertainment software in Canada and the United States.
South Korea 
The Game Rating Board (게임물등급위원회 Geimmul Deung-Geub-Wiwonhoe) (GRB) is the South Korean video game content rating board. A governmental organization, the GRB rates video and computer games to inform customers of the nature of game contents.
United Kingdom 
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is a non-governmental organisation, funded by the film industry and responsible for the national classification of films within the United Kingdom. It has a statutory requirement to classify videos and DVDs. It no longer has responsibility for rating video games in the UK. This role has been passed to the Video Standards Council using its games rating arm the Games Rating Authority (GRA).
In July 2012, the Video Standards Council (VSC) became the sole UK statutory video games regulator for the UK. The VSC uses the PEGI ratings system to rate games. Games released in the UK are rated by the VSC's games rating arm, the Games Rating Authority (GRA). This role was previously undertaken by the BBFC. Games featuring strong pornographic content or ancillary mini-games to be included with a DVD feature will still be rated by the BBFC.
The Age classification of information products is a new statutory classification set of rules formed by the Russian Government after enacting in September 2012 a Federal Law of Russian Federation no. 436-FZ of 2010-12-23 “On Protecting of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” (Russian: Федеральный закон Российской Федерации от 29 декабря 2010 г. N 436-ФЗ «О защите детей от информации, причиняющей вред их здоровью и развитию»), which classifies films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Russia since 1 September 2012. The Ministry of Culture provides administrative support to the classification.
|AUS: ACB||G||PG||M||MA15+||R18+ & X18+||The restricted categories are MA15+ and R18+; the R18+ rating was introduced before the end of 2011. The X18+ rating does not exist for video games.|
|BRA: DJCTQ||L||10||12||14||16||18||The same rating system is used for television and motion pictures in Brazil.|
|unknown||Protect- and Counsel-rated games should be played with parent or guardian's supervision.|
|/ Europe/ Israel: PEGI||3||7||12||16||18||In Portugal, there are 4 and 6 ratings instead of 3 and 7, respectively.|
|Finland: VET||3+||7+||12+||16+||18+||Adopted on January 1, 2007.|
|Germany: USK||0||6||12||16||18||Vendors need to perform an age verification. USK 18 games may not be sold via mail order or internet|
|Iran: ESRA||+3||+7||+12||+15||+18 & +25||Some games are forbidden. Games with intense violence, strong sexual content or nudity are prohibited.|
|Japan: CERO||A||B||C||D||Z||U||These ratings have been used since March 1, 2006. The Z rating is the only rating that is legally restricted.|
|EOCS/CSA||General||R||18+||Used primarily for PC games (dating sims, visual novels, and eroge)|
|NZL: OFLCNZ||G||PG||R13||R16||R18||All ages may purchase an M title, but parents are advised that the content is more suitable for mature persons 16 years and over.|
|USA/ CAN/ MEX: ESRB||EC||E||E10+||T||M||AO||RP||This was adopted in 1994 in North America. The E10+ rating was first used in early 2005.|
|Singapore: MDA||ADV||M18||Adopted on April 28, 2008.|
|South Korea: GRB||ALL||12||15||18||Before 2006, video games released in South Korea were rated by KMRB.|
|Russia: Content rating law||0+||6+||12+||16+||18+||These ratings have been used since September 1, 2012. The same rating system is used for television, motion pictures and publications in Russia.|
- : Aimed at young audiences.
- : All ages may play.
- : Parental guidance is suggested.
- : Not recommended for a younger audience but not restricted.
- + : Restricted to an older audience unless accompanied by an adult.
- : Restricted to adults only.
- : Unknown rating.
Explanations of specific ratings are available in corresponding articles.
The image below presents usage of various video game content rating systems around the world. Countries filled with gradients are using several rating systems.
See also 
- Dr. David Walsh (2000-03-21). "The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children: Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-07-13.[dead link]
- Jerry Bonner (April 2008). "How to Fix the Ratings System: A former game rater lists six ways to bolster the Entertainment Software Rating Board," Electronic Gaming Monthly 227, 30-32.
- "Kaufhof schafft Filme und Spiele für Erwachsene ab". Der Spiegel (in German). 18 March 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "Video Violence: Villain or Victim?", Guy Cumberbatch, London Video Standards Council, 2004
- "It's Not the Media", Karen Sternheimer, Westview, 2003
- Benedetti, Winda (2008-02-18). "Why search our souls when video games make such an easy scapegoat?". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- Radoff, Jon (2009-12-08). "Six Wonderful Things about Games". Retrieved 2009-12-19.
- PEGI Website
- "PEGI Pan European Game Information - What do the labels mean?".
- "コンテンツ・ソフト協同組合". Contents Soft Association. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- "EOCS／一般社団法人コンピュータソフトウェア倫理機構オフィシャルウェブサイト". Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS). Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- "Censorship in New Zealand".
- ESRB FAQ
- Nelmes, Jill (2003). An introduction to film studies. Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 0-415-26268-2.
- "The Video Standards Council". bbfc. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
- Video games ratings face overhaul