Starting today the ESRB is rolling out a new way to get games rated. Specifically all those downloadable games for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s Wii / DSi Shop. Due to the large volume of games that are currently being made and the slow speed at which the reviewers can get to them, the new system bypasses the humans and goes for strictly computerized output.
Game makers will fill out a very detailed questionnaire covering every style of violence, sexuality, profanity, drug use, gambling or bodily function that could possibly offend the mothers of America. When it is submitted the system will spit back a rating based on what is likely a simple points value system. You can then slap that rating on your game and get it selling on the major consoles. Shortly after release of the games the ESRB says it will have a human review the game to be sure that the publishers didn’t lie on the questionnaire. Of course if they had the time to do the reviews they wouldn’t need an automated system. It will be interesting to see how this works out.
Right now most computer games (especially the flash based, and Facebook variety), and smart phone games don’t get ratings because the Internet, Facebook, Google, and Apple don’t require ESRB ratings before you are able to sell games on those platforms. If the automated ESRB system works out we can expect a push from the ESRB to get those platforms to use them.
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