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ESRB Rating Distributions ...And What They Tell Us

November 30, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

Recently GameStop, the videogame retailer, added a new feature to its online storefront that permits filtering of its game catalog by the ratings assigned by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Presumably, a savvy parent shopping for an 8-year-old child can now browse for games rated E (for "Everyone") and skip those rated E10+ which are appropriate for a slightly older audience.

I started looking at the number of games of each type per platform -- Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360 -- and it made me wonder what patterns I would see if I could visualize these distributions.

Fortunately, the ESRB has long provided a variety of means for searching its ratings database of rated games. After I compiled the data for several platforms, I began making charts of the distributions on individual consoles and handhelds. Those graphs revealed manufacturer-specific ratings distributions, and possibly even some evidence of how platforms have different strategies in different generations.


For our first comparison we'll examine three handheld platforms: the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS, and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). As an exercise in analyzing these rating distribution graphs, the platforms are not indicated initially, and the graphs are given in random order. With a little bit of background knowledge and deduction each platform can be recognized just from its distribution.

Can you tell which is which? The PSP will probably stand out to most people, but the real trick is knowing which is the Nintendo DS and which is the Game Boy Advance. The answers, and explanations, are shown on the next page.

Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

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