Monday, November 05, 2007

Entertainment Software Rating Board

My husband and boys have wanted a Wii since they came out. When my DH walked into Target on a recent Monday and found a short stack of Wii boxes sitting in the electronics department, he called and asked if he could get one for the boys' Christmas. I knew that my interest in video games was about to go up a few levels.

I was vaguely aware of the rating system for video games, but was amazed at the wealth of information found at the Entertainment Software Rating Board website. I knew of the letter ratings, but I didn't realize that the rating was expanded to include information about content that contributed to the rating -- including mature humor, violence, blood, and even tobacco references. Now I know to look at the back of video game boxes to find out what type of content will be found.

I was also a little surprised to learn that "E" refers to "Everyone" over the age of 6. Since N is 5 1/2, I'm not concerned about "E" games right now, but that was a good thing to know, especially with an infant who will grow up with a Wii in the house.

The website also includes information about setting parental controls on a number of different game systems. While I envision having direct control about the games the boys will be playing, I can see that they will likely share games in the future with their friends. By setting parental controls right away, I won't have to worry about them playing games on our machine that I would find inappropriate.

Another great feature of the website is the search feature. Right on the front page, as well as various pages throughout the site, you can search for games based on publisher, title, platform, rating and/or content. You can set multiple search criteria within each area as well. This is a quick way for me to search for games that we might want to purchase in the future. It's also a great tool to share with family & friends who might want to purchase games for our kids. After just a few seconds, I found that there are 106 games rated "E" for our Wii that have no descriptors.

I know that I'll be using the ESRB site quite a bit in the coming years. I have shared it with family & friends already who have kids and video games. The wealth of information and ease of use makes this site a great tool for parents!

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