For Parents: Video Game Ratings

With the holiday season swiftly approaching and the gaming season starting, it is time for us to remember we are to look out for and protect our children. While game ratings are annoying to me, a grown woman, I find them invaluable when picking up video games for the kids in my life.

As with all things, use common sense too. Just because something is rated M, doesn't mean it is a "bad game" that only adults should play. It means you should think very hard about letting an impressionable four year old play that video game. Afterall, sometimes the ESRB rates a game Teen or Mature because of overuse of naughty words. But what if in your home you don't censor language? So you can see how that game suddenly, for some, becomes rated Everyone.

So without further yammering from me....

All ratings are listed from most innocent to most extreme.

Early Childhood
This one will be a big EC in the box and it means the game's content is OK for ages 3 and older. The game also contains no material that parents should find inappropriate.

This one will be a big E in the box and it means the game's content is considered by the ESRB OK for ages 6 and older. Parents should note that titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon/fantasy/mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

Everyone 10+
This one will have a big E10+ in the box and means the game's content is believed to be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category usually contain more cartoon/fantasy/mild violence/mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

You will find a big T in the box and it means the game's content is considered to be suitable for ages 13 and older. This category may frequently violence/suggestive themes/crude humor/minimal blood/simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

Look for the big old M in the box. Mature means the game's content is more suitable for persons ages 17 and older. This category will contain intense violence/blood and gore/sexual content and/or strong language.

Adults Only
This one will have a big AO in the box and it means the game has content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category almost always include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

Rating Pending
You will see the RP usually in ads for unreleased games as they have not yet been assigned a final ESRB rating. Once the game gets it's final rating, the RP is replaced.

Not Rated
Typically, if you pull out a mangifying glass or squint really hard you will see a NR and this almost always relates to online multiplayer. The ESRB has no way of reliably rating online activity.

As for the NR, I can tell you from experience, the single player rating is what you can usually expect from the multiplayer. In this I mean, when I pop onto Viva Pinata Party Animals (Rated E), I watch my language and behave myself. As should all people when in such a situation.

But, when I toss in the old Call of Duty (M), I make sailor's blush and do not take any prisioners, so to speak.

You see how the rating affects my own behavior? I find the same to be true for the most part with most games. There will always be idiots though that could care less about what type of multiplayer they are in and will be rude no matter what. That is why it is important for you, the grown person, to pay attention to your child's online gaming activity just as you would when they go outside and play.

I hope this helps you find the perfect games for the little ones in your life!


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Stay frugal!