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Study: 70 Percent Of Parents Use ESRB Ratings
Study: 70 Percent Of Parents Use ESRB Ratings
January 14, 2010 | By Kris Graft

January 14, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

The majority of U.S. parents who play games are aware of and also use video game content ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, according to a new study released Thursday.

Activision Publishing and The Harrison Group's online survey of around 1,200 gamers and parents found that 70 percent of gaming parents "pay close attention to the ratings when purchasing a game for themselves or their families."

Eighty-two percent of parents and 75 percent of children who play games are familiar with the ESRB's EC (Early Childhood)-AO (Adults Only) ratings system. The ESRB is the video game industry's self-regulating body, and reviews and rates video games for content.

The video games industry has taken measures over the years to try to improve the effectiveness of the ratings system. The Federal Trade Commission said in December last year that the games industry "outpaces the movie and music industries" in content guidance.

The study also stated that 52 percent of their video gaming time is with their children, found that 76 percent of parents "agree that video games are a part of their family's life, and are something they're very comfortable with."

Activision Publishing participated in the survey as part of its "Ratings Are Not A Game" education initiative.

Other key percentages included in the study are below:

- 63 percent of parents with children who play games consider themselves gamers with the number increasing to 83 percent for parents ages 35 and younger.
- Gamers devote 32% of their leisure time to entertainment with video games accounting for the largest share approximately 19%.
- 76% of parents agree that video games are a part of their family's life, and are something they're very comfortable with.
- Among parent gamers, 52% of their video gaming playing time is spent with their children.
- Approximately 62% of parents conduct research before purchasing a video game that their child wants.

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Adam Flutie
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I would have to agree that the ESRB is steps above the other media rating system. I'm glad they have paragraph descriptions of their ratings as well.

This last Christmas I had a few co-workers that knew I played games and were looking for something for their kids, I was amazed none of them knew about the online rating information. They did all know the ratings on the box though and most said these tags in and of themselves was useless. It usually revolved around the fact 'M' was too broad, and the descriptor tags next to the 'M' didn't give them enough info. Once I showed them the online info they loved it though.

This is also my gripe about the system. Some 'M' games are just not that 'M' to me and others clearly are 'AO' but always seem to get a 'M' ranking anyhow. The online aspect clears that up a lot though and they do deserve some kudos for this.

Somehow they need to find a way for the 'AO' tag to be used more and not mean an instant ban from the console makers though. If that means making another fake label 'worse' than 'AO' like 'I' (Inappropriate for all ages / civilization) I'd be all for it.

Stephen Chin
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True point, Adam. AO doesn't mean much as far as the general market is concerned when it's more or less a death sentence for the majority of games and M gets away from a broad range of maturity. I'd probably keep AO the top end and stick a new rating between (or along side) M and AO, if only because the connotation of 'adult' in context of entertainment has generally meant things like gratuitous amounts of nudity, overt sex, over the top violence, etc. Thus you could have M for 'lighter' mature content, AO for erotic content, and something else for the more extreme end of mature.