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The Entertainment Software Rating Board is an official rating system for video games that is used within the United States of America and Canada. It was established in 1994 after the senate hearing about violence in video games (see #History).

The rating system consists of 5 ratings. E, E10+, T, M, and AO (for more information about the ratings, see #Ratings). There used to be a preschool rating named eC but that was discontinued in 2018 (see #History and #Ratings sections).

It was originally used in Mexico from 1994 until 2021. In May 2021, it was replaced by their movie and television rating system, the General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography.

History[]

Founding[]

The Entertainment Software Rating Board was established in 1994 in response to Senate hearings about violence in video games. It also succeeded Videogame Rating Council that was used for Sega's video games and the 3DO age ratings for 3DO video games. The original ratings were RP, K-A, T, M, and AO. K-A was replaced by E in 1998.

Later era[]

Originally, the letter icons were pixelated rating icons. However, in 2000, the pixel letter icons for the ratings were changed to just black. They added an E10+ rating in 2005 (see #Ratings for more info).

In 2013, the rating icons changed again, and in 2018, the eC rating was cut from the system because of the low usage and was easily replaced by the E rating, another rating suitable for children (but also for adults) (also see #Ratings for more info).

On November 27, 2020, the General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography announced that they were replacing the the ESRB in Mexico. This took place exactly six months later, on May 27, 2021. However, this only means that the new rating system is used for physical releases, as the ESRB ratings are still used in digital storefronts.

Ratings[]

Rating What it means From Until Image
eC (Early Childhood) Games suited preschool children. This was originally meant to be ages 3 and above but that age was changed to all ages until it was no longer used as of 2018. 1994 2018 ESRB EC.svg
E (Everyone) Games suited for all ages. It was originally meant to be ages 6 and above but that age was changed to all age. Formerly known as Kids to Adults (K+A) until 1998. 1994 Present ESRB E.svg
E10+ (Everyone 10+) Games suited for ages 10 and above. This is the newest rating in the Entertainment Software Rating Board, introduced in 2005. 2005 Present ESRB E10+.svg
T (Teen) Games suited for ages 13 and above. The highest advisory rating in Canada. 1994 Present ESRB T.svg
M (Mature) Games suited for ages 17 and above. In the United States, no restrictions are passed. In Canada, under provincial laws, it is illegal to supply M-rated games to a person under the age of 17 years. 1994 Present ESRB M.svg
AO (Adults Only) Games suited for ages 18 and above. In stores, anyone buying an AO game must be 18 years or older, and must not be supplied to children under 18. 1994 Present ESRB AO.svg
RP (rating pending) Games without a rating yet. 1994 Present ESRB RP.svg

Equivalents[]

  • eC: TV-Y (US TV) and C (Canadian TV)
  • E: TV-G and TV-Y7 (US TV), G (Canadian/Quebec TV and movies and US movies), C8 (Canadian TV), 8+ (Quebec TV)
  • E10+: TV-PG (US TV), PG (Canadian TV and movies and US movies), G (with warning: Quebec)
  • T: PG-13 (US movies), 14A (Canadian movies), TV-14 (US TV), 14+ (Canadian TV), 13+ (Quebec)
  • M and AO: R and NC-17 (US movies), 18A and R (Canadian movies), TV-MA (US TV), 18+ (Canadian TV), 16+ and 18+ (Quebec)

Content Descriptors[]

There is an extra mark for all current ratings (E.G. violence, blood, language, sexual content, nudity, substances). ESRB has executive descriptors that very few (if any) rating systems used.

Category Subcategories
Violence Fantasy Violence
Cartoon Violence
Mild Violence
Intense Violence
Language Mild Language
Strong Language
Mild Lyrics
Lyrics
Strong Lyrics
Suggestive Themes Mild Suggestive Themes
Sexual Themes
Blood Animated Blood
Blood and Gore
Sexual Content Strong Sexual Content
Nudity Partial Nudity
Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Alcohol/Drug/Tobacco Reference
Use of Alcohol/Drugs/Tobacco
Gambling Simulated Gambling
Real Gambling
Crude Humor Comic Mischief
Mature Humor
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
Currently used ratings
ESRB RP.svg ESRB E.svg ESRB E10+.svg ESRB T.svg ESRB M.svg ESRB AO.svg

Formerly used rating
ESRB EC.svg