ESRB Ratings Guide
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) issues ratings to all games released in the U.S. These ratings help to provide an objective way of obtaining information about whether or not a a game is suitable for a particular player. ESRB ratings feature three elements:
- Rating Categories - These function similarly to movie ratings and give you an idea of what age the game is appropriate for
- Content Descriptors - This is a more detail description of how/why the game was rated its assigned rating
- Interactive Elements - This section features info about ways players may interact with a game, or things they may share or purchase in the game.
- Shares Info
- Shares Location
- Users Interact
- Digital Purchases
- Unrestricted Internet
In addition, boxed games have summaries that gives the buyer more detailed information about the game's content that factored into the rating.
Content is intended for young children.
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.
Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a "boxed" video game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
Not assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only for video games that were released before the establishment of the ESRB in 1994 or products that normally would not be assigned a rating (i.e. systems, accessories, apparel, etc.). Tidewater Games, LLC d/b/a Tidewater Games is not responsible for the content of these games and recommends parents/guardians use proper judgment when purchasing these games for younger players.
NOTE: Rating Category assignments can also be based upon a game or app's minimum age requirement.
- Alcohol Reference - Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
- Animated Blood - Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
- Blood - Depictions of blood
- Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
- Cartoon Violence - Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
- Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
- Crude Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including "bathroom" humor
- Drug Reference - Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
- Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
- Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
- Language - Mild to moderate use of profanity
- Lyrics - Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Mature Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references
- Nudity - Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
- Partial Nudity - Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
- Real Gambling - Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Sexual Content - Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
- Sexual Themes - References to sex or sexuality
- Sexual Violence - Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
- Simulated Gambling - Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
- Strong Lyrics - Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Strong Sexual Content - Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity
- Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials
- Tobacco Reference - Reference to and/or images of tobacco products
- Use of Alcohol - The consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Use of Drugs - The consumption or use of illegal drugs
- Use of Tobacco - The consumption of tobacco products
- Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
- Violent References - References to violent acts
NOTE: Content Descriptors are applied relative to the Rating Category assigned and are not intended to be a complete listing of content. When a Content Descriptor is preceded by the term "Mild" it is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity.
- Shares Info - Indicates that personal information provided by the user (e.g., e-mail address, phone number, credit card info, etc.) is shared with third parties
- Shares Location - Includes the ability to display the user's location to other users of the app
- Users Interact - Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks
- Digital Purchases - Enables purchases of digital goods completed directly from within the app (e.g., purchases of additional game content, levels, downloadable music, etc.)
- Unrestricted Internet - Product provides access to the internet
"Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB" - Warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of user-generated content (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.
"Online Music Not Rated by the ESRB" - Warns that songs that are streamed or downloaded as add-ons for music-based games have not been rated and that their content has not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.
NOTE: The "Shares Info," "Shares Location," "Users Interact," "Digital Purchases" and "Unrestricted Internet" notices are assigned to digitally delivered games and apps whereas the Online and Music notices typically apply only to online-enabled boxed video games.