Should Apple IPhone Games Be Rated? ESA Says Yes

It dawned on me recently, in fact when my 8-year-old bought an iPod Touch, that it would be nice if the games in the App Store were rated.

Currently the only way I can maintain control over what Tristan buys on his Touch is by completely blocking his access to the store, but what I would love is the ability to block by rating. It would be great if Apple followed the model used by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, and allowed me to block games by rating.

The problem is the games in the App Store aren’t rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board or anyone else for that matter.

That’s something that the Entertainment Software Association would like to see change, mostly because they know what can happen to a platform that has no ratings.

“We’ve been down this road before, the Entertainment Software industry, we know how this goes and it’s wise for (Apple) to make steps in that direction so that this is addressed up front and there is an environment that is hospitable to children and families,” Michael Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, told a group of reporters last week. “It would be wise to do that, we would welcome the opportunity to work with them, we are reaching out to encourage that.”

Gallagher hastened to add that he doesn’t expect every game on the App Store, which has thousands, to be rated.

“That doesn’t mean that every entrepreneur, every software engine that is able to write code and put up an app on the App Store is going to go through this process it simply says that if a game is rated it needs to pass through and be filtered appropriately by the controls that are on the iPhone,” he said. “That would be a big step in the right direction and it is virtually friction free.”

Of course that begs the question: How will one determine if a game should be rated? Maybe the best approach is to allow a parent to limit access to games based on ratings and to include among those ratings unrated. That way as a parent I can give my son some access to games, but only those that have been looked at and rated as appropriate.

Perhaps that could be part of the rumoured game-only store we’ve been hearing rumblings about. I’m sure we’ll know more come later today when the WWDC kicks off.