Happy Birthday to the ESRB which is celebrating its fifteenth birthday today! The organization that rates and classifies video games was created on July 29th, 1994 in response to the controversy surrounding violent video games such as Mortal Kombat and Night Trap.
Headquartered here in New York City, the ESRB's influence can be felt throughout the entire games industry. The rating system they introduced is synonymous with our favorite pastime and is now a regular part of the gaming lexicon. Wired online has a great article covering the history of the organization which provides an interesting bit of nostalgia to those of us old enough to remember a time before the little black and white labels.
A brief snippet from the article:
The ESRB plan didn’t just ape movie ratings. After consulting with parents and educators, the board added more-detailed content descriptors. On the back of the game box, parents could see why the game received the rating it did, with brief phrases like “Blood and Gore” or “Tobacco Reference.”
Despite its good intentions, in the years since its formation the ESRB has not existed without controversy. Much like the Motion Picture Association which appoints ratings to commercial films, there are still many who question the transparency of the ESRB’s rating system and are critical of how it’s applied to various games. That said, many will agree that it’s better to try and self regulate than be subjected to government censorship.
Be sure to check out the rest of Wired's article by clicking RIGHT HERE.