Almost all games sold are rated by the Entertainment System Rating Board (ESRB). "... Ratings are designed to provide accurate and objective information about the content in computer and video games so you can make an informed purchase decision," according to their Web site.
There are two parts to the ESRB rating:
Another factor to consider is the Online Rating Notice. This notice tells players if a game contains user-generated content (for example, chat, maps, and skins), that the "Game Experience May Change During Online Play," and warns consumers that content created online has not been rated by the ESRB.
These ratings were created as guidelines. But parents still need to know which games their children are playing, who their children are playing with online, and how much time is spent doing so.
The following sections describe the ESRB rating symbols and content descriptors. The ESRB Web site* has a great search window, if you have questions about a specific game. You can easily search by title, publisher, rating platform or content.
EARLY CHILDHOOD. Titles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
EVERYONE 10+. Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
TEEN. Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
ADULTS ONLY. Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
RATING PENDING. Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)