Alting reminds area parents to check video, computer game ratings info

esrb-ratingsINDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — State Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) urges Indiana’s shoppers to pay careful attention to the age and content ratings provided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) when purchasing computer and video games as gifts this holiday season.

A recent Entertainment Software Association (ESA) poll found that 43 percent of Americans plan to buy one or more games in 2009, and a majority will do so during the holidays.

“The high volume of game purchases makes it even more important for parents and other gift givers to make sure the games they buy are age-appropriate,” Alting, chair of the Commerce, Public Policy and Interstate Cooperation Senate Committee, said. “Using the ESRB computer and video game rating system is a good guide to use when determining if a game’s content is suitable.”

ESRB ratings employ a two-part system. Rating symbols appear on the front of virtually every game’s packaging and provide an age recommendation, such as EC (Early Childhood 3+), E (Everyone 6+), E10+ (Everyone 10 and older), T (Teen 13+), M (Mature 17+) and AO (Adults Only 18+). On the back of the package, next to the rating, are content descriptors, which are short words and phrases that provide information about what’s in the game that may have triggered the rating, or may be of interest or concern to parents.

The rating label is located on the front of the video game package. All video and computer games should feature a rating.

The rating label is located on the front of the video game package. All video and computer games should feature a rating.

“As a parent, I know it can be difficult to keep up with all the entertainment options out there for our children, but the reality is that video games are among the easiest for parents to manage,” said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB, which assigns video game ratings. “The ratings on the package give valuable guidance about content and age-appropriateness. We now provide ‘rating summaries’ on our Web site that can be sent to shoppers’ cell phones, which give even more detailed descriptions of the contents of games parents would want to know about and purchase. Parents should use these resources to make sure the games they’re giving as gifts this year are ones they deem OK to play.”

“Video games are again one of the hottest items on the wish lists of millions of children this year, mine included,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “The various tools provided by the ESRB make it easier for parents to choose which games are right for their kids. By choosing appropriate titles, computer and video games can provide families with hours of shared entertainment at an excellent economic value.”

All game rating information as well as rating summaries can be found by searching for titles on the ESRB’s Web site at www.esrb.org, as well as via a mobile Web site at m.esrb.org that enables parents to look up rating summaries right from the store aisle when they are unsure as to whether a particular game is right for their child.

This year, the ESRB celebrates its 15th anniversary. Since 1994, the organization’s rating system for computer and video games have been an effective mechanism for informing consumers. The latest report of the Federal Trade Commission revealed that nearly 90 percent of parents are aware of the ESRB system, and more than 70 percent of parents use it regularly when deciding which games to buy. In addition, the report called the system “a useful and informative tool that parents increasingly use to help them make informed decisions about games for their children.”

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