Global Game Industry News Blog

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The ESRB is not the MPAA of Video Games

News flash: games are rated upon disclosure. I know a great many people understand this point. A great many more do not. There is no one at the ESRB who sits down and plays every game from start to finish. Some games don't even have a predictable start and finish. Could you imagine trying to "finish" Second Life? So while encouraging companies to do better self reporting is an important component of improving what the ESRB does, it's not quite that simple.

Often times the scope and playable components of a game will change. Not only will they change, they will do so in a very short amount of time just prior to the shipment of a game. With such tight timelines and companies pressed to shove as much content as possible into every game, it is quite possible that people will unwittingly not disclose elements which were thought to have been removed. Much as seems to have been the case in this whole "hot coffee" thing.

At the same time, perhaps it will encourage companies to do more play testing and even "hack testing" of games prior to shipment. While hackability isn't necessarily a concern on console systems, it is extremely important on the PC side. It intrigues me that the very capabilities which provide opportunity for MODer's are those elements which are more and more often going to be removed from games as issues like this increase.

ESRB promises heavy fines for publisher nondisclosure // GamesIndustry.biz

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