Computer Entertainment Rating Organization

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Computer Entertainment Rating Organization
TypeNonprofit organization
IndustryVideo game content rating system
FoundedJune 2002; 20 years ago (2002-06)
HeadquartersChiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Area served
Key people
Kazuya Watanabe

The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (Japanese: 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, Hepburn: Tokutei Hieiri Katsudō Hōjin Konpyūta Entāteinmento Rētingu Kikō) (CERO) is a Japanese entertainment rating organization based in Tokyo that rates video game content in console games with levels of ratings that informs the customer(s) of the nature of the product and what age group it is suitable for. It was established in June 2002 as a branch of Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association, and became an officially recognized nonprofit organization in December 2003.

CERO rating marks[edit]

On March 1, 2006, CERO implemented the latest revision of its rating system. The symbols that CERO uses are stylized Latin letters, named after academic grading, except "F" is replaced with "Z". Each is meant to convey a game's suitability for minors. "CERO rating marks" are grouped broadly into "age classification marks" and "other marks". Age classification marks include the following five marks. One of the marks is indicated on the left bottom of the game box front, and a corresponding color bar is also shown on the box spine. (Bar colors: black for "A"; green for "B"; blue for "C"; orange for "D"; red for "Z")

Mark Rating Description
CERO A.svg All Ages (全年齢対象, Zen nenrei taishō) Expressions and content subjected to age-specific limitation are not included in the game, thereby being suitable for all ages. All games that used to be rated All go into this category.
CERO B.svg Ages 12 and up (12才以上対象, Jūnisai ijō taishō) Expression and content suitable only to 12-year-olds and above are included in the game. All games that used to be rated 12 go into this category.
CERO C.svg Ages 15 and up (15才以上対象, Jūgosai ijō taishō) Expression and content suitable only to 15-year-olds and above are included in the game. All games that used to be rated 15 go into this category.
CERO D.svg Ages 17 and up (17才以上対象, Jūnanasai ijō taishō) Contains adult material. Anyone under 17 cannot buy video games with this rating without parental consent. Expression and content suitable only to 17-year-olds and above are included in the game. Some games that used to be rated 18 go into this category.
CERO Z.svg Ages 18 and up only (18才以上のみ対象, Jūhassai ijō nomi taishō) Contains strong adult material. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy video games with this rating. Expression and content suitable only to 18-year-olds and above are included in the game. Some games that used to be rated 18 go into this category.
CERO Kyouiku Deitabeisu.svg Educational/Database (教育・データベース, Kyouiku Deetabeesu) A special rating applied only to non-game, educational/utility software (e.g. books) released on consoles aimed to older audiences (games like this aimed to children are rated A instead). Despite having education in its name, it can still feature expressions and content that might not be suitable for minors.
CERO Kitei Teikikou.svg CERO Regulations-Compatible (規定適合, Kitei tekigō) Applied only to trial versions of games. Titles with this rating do not have all of the expressions and content featured in the full game.
CERO Shin Sa Yo Tei.svg Rating Scheduled (審査予定, Shinsa yotei) The game has not been assigned its final rating. Used in trailers and advertisements for games that have not been assigned their final rating from CERO.[1]

Content icons[edit]

In April 2004, CERO defined the following "content icons". Content icons represent that the age classification decision has been made based on the expressions belonging to one (or more) of the content icons. They are grouped into nine categories. These icons are displayed on the back of all game boxes except on those rated "A" or "Educational/Database".

Content Icon Description
CERO Love.svg Love Contains expressions of romance or love. (Possibly includes kissing, hugging, dating, and other expressions of romantic desire or relations.)
CERO Sex.svg Sexual Content Contains expressions of sexual relations and/or sexual activity. (Possibly includes swimwear or suggestive outfits, exposure of underwear, partial nudity, suggestive behavior, immoral thoughts, prostitution, sexual contact and/or activities, and other sexual content.)
CERO Violence.svg Violence Contains violent activity. (Possibly includes fighting, bodily harm and wounding, killing, dismemberment, depiction of corpses, blood and gore, and other violent content.)
CERO Fear.svg Horror Contains frightful or horror elements. (Possibly includes traditional horror characters such as ghosts, zombies, vampires, or other elements of the occult, as well as moments designed to frighten. Usually used to designate games that may scare children, the Horror icon might not be found on frightening games outside of lower age ratings, even in games that fall into the Horror genre.)
CERO Tobacco and alcohol.svg Drinking/Smoking Contains depictions or references to the consumption of alcohol and/or cigarette or cigar smoking.
CERO Gambling.svg Gambling Contains gambling activities, either by depiction or in interactive form.
CERO Crime.svg Crime Contains criminal activity, either by depiction or in interactive form. (Possibly includes illegal activity, dangerous and unlawful behavior, abusive behavior, rape, organized crime, and other criminal acts.)
CERO Drug Use.svg Drugs Contains depictions or references to the use of drugs and illegal narcotics.
CERO Bad language.svg Language Contains profane, derogatory, or bigoted language.

Rating process[edit]

According to Kazuya Watanabe, CERO's senior director, the group of assessors is composed of five regular people unaffiliated with the game industry. They are trained by rating past games. The rating process is determined by 30 different expressions, each with an upper limit. The expressions that exceed the upper limit are designated as "banned expressions". In addition, six expressions are not allowed and are also considered to be banned expressions. The expressions are categorized into four different types: "Sex-related expression type" (Love, Sexual Content), "Violence expression type" (Violence, Horror), "Antisocial act expression type" (Drinking/Smoking, Gambling, Crime, Drugs), and "Language and ideology-related expression type" (Language). Each expression is rated using the A to Z scale that the rating marks use. After the group evaluates the game, the results are sent to CERO's main office where the final rating attempts to use the majority of the evaluators' ratings.

Scandals and controversy[edit]

One month after the initial release of Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, shipments of it were halted due to it having been mis-rated.[2] It was re-released a few days later with a B rating from CERO.[3] Its A (All Ages) rating was revoked and it was given a B (Ages 12+) rating instead, due to some suggestive themes featured in the game. The game was originally rated for all ages due to Gust allegedly not providing them with the complete content of the game for them to review.

CERO has been criticized for being stricter on content in games when compared to other rating boards, a 2020 example being The Last of Us Part II. Despite receiving a Z (Ages 18+ only) rating, which is the maximum rating a game could receive from CERO, it was still censored with an example being the game's sexual content, where a sex scene that is featured in the game was censored. In the Japanese version, the scene cuts out just a short time after both characters begin kissing, removing the nudity seen in other versions of the game. The game also received some censorship of its violence, as some of the gore and dismemberment seen in the game was removed in the Japanese version.[4]


  1. ^ "CERO - Ratings Wiki Guide - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Atelier Meruru game held back in Japan due to rating". Anime News Network. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  3. ^ ""Atelier Meruru PS3 RPG age rating changed to 12+"". Archived from the original on 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  4. ^ "How The The Last of Us Part II Was Censored in Japan". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13.

External links[edit]