Video Game Ratings Board Lets Computers Do The Rating

Last year the Entertainment Software Ratings Board reviewed approximately 1600 video games prior to their US release, painstakingly poring over video game footage before arriving at a final decision. Starting today, the board is passing a great deal of that responsibility on to computers.

Here's how the Entertainment Software Review Board's process generally works. A game's publisher submits a video to the ESRB containing the most violent, sexual, and amoral moments from the video game they seek a rating on. It's like a greatest hits video of death and debauchery. The ESRB watches that video and, based on what they see, assigns the appropriate rating to it.

While that process will currently remain the same for console releases, the ESRB is instituting a new process for the ever-growing list of downloadable titles for services like WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

Rather than having the publisher and developers compile a video, the game creators are required to fill out a lengthy questionnaire regarding their title's violent, sexual, and otherwise offensive content. According to The New York Times' Seth Schiesel the questionnaire is fairly extensive.

Offensive language, for instance, is broken down into six subcategories: minor profanities, epithets, scatological vulgarities, racial obscenities, sexual vulgarisms and a final category devoted to one particular three-letter word that refers to both a beast of burden and, colloquially, to a part of human anatomy.

A publisher fills out this document, submits it, and a computer processes it, assigning the correct rating to the game.

Of course the system relies on the publisher being truthful, but then so does the original system. The possibility of nondisclosure penalties generally keep game makers on the straight and narrow.

And should a dab of downloadable porn slip through the system's fingers, ESRB representatives will be playing the games after they are available to the public, so any hypothetical damage would be kept to a minimum.

Busy Job of Judging Video-Game Content to Be Ceded to Machines [The New York Times]



    I wish we had a free speech amendment here :(

    Hell I wish we had a half-decent constitution to begin with, before we start adding amendments to it.

      Not sure how the right to free speech is even related to this article.

      But in any case, the Constitution does provide the freedom for political communication, and though by no means does that mean the freedom of speech, it does allow a liberty to talk about certain issues that the government might otherwise now want us to discuss.

      Besides, an explicit provision for free speech may lead to legal issues, as we've seen in the USA. And personally, I don't want to have a country that allows a person to burn another's most sacred text on the basis that a minority of that religion are terrorists.

      The Australian Constitution was not supposed to be made from grand ideals of pilgrims. It was made as an efficient, straight-forward document, that ensured the unity of our nation, its states, and allowed it sovereignty and relative independence.

      But that's only my opinion, you're entitled to yours.

      Wait, that almost sounded like an underlying respect for the freedom of speech.


    I want to know what part of the body people are calling a yak.

    "a final category devoted to one particular three-letter word that refers to both a beast of burden and, colloquially, to a part of human anatomy"

    Yak off!

    Context provides the framework for understanding a message. A bullet point list of "affrontery" isn't going to be any better than a highlight real of "the worst moments."

    they have a section purely for he word 'ass'? ..LOL this thing needs updating

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