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ESRB Rating & Content Descriptor Guide

 

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in video games and mobile apps so consumers, especially parents, can make informed choices. ESRB ratings have two equal parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness and content descriptors indicate elements that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.

ESRB Symbols are located on the Front of the package, while Content Descriptors are on the back.


ESRB Rating Symbols

Early Childhood   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.
  Mature   MATURE
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Everyone   EVERYONE
Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
  Adults Only   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. HobbitShop.com.com does not sell AO rated games.
Everyone 10+   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.
  Rating Pending   RATING PENDING
Titles designated as RP (Rating Pending) have not yet been assigned a final ESRB rating. This icon appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating. The RP is replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
Teen   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.
       

ESRB Content Descriptors

In addition to the ESRB Ratings, content descriptors give more details about the product in terms of violence, sexual themes, language, and other areas that may be of interest to some consumers. This information can be found in the black-and-white box on the back of the game package. Here is a list of content descriptors used by the ESRB:

  • Alcohol Reference - Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
  • Animated Blood - Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
  • Blood - Depictions of blood
  • Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
  • Cartoon Violence - Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
  • Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
  • Crude Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including "bathroom" humor
  • Drug Reference - Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
  • Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
  • Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
  • Language - Mild to moderate use of profanity
  • Lyrics - Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
  • Mature Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references
  • Nudity - Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
  • Partial Nudity - Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
  • Real Gambling - Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
  • Sexual Content - Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
  • Sexual Themes - References to sex or sexuality
  • Sexual Violence - Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
  • Simulated Gambling - Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
  • Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
  • Strong Lyrics - Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
  • Strong Sexual Content - Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity
  • Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials
  • Tobacco Reference - Reference to and/or images of tobacco products
  • Use of Alcohol - The consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Use of Drugs - The consumption or use of illegal drugs
  • Use of Tobacco - The consumption of tobacco products
  • Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
  • Violent References - References to violent acts

NOTE: When a content descriptor is preceded by the term "Mild," it is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity of the content it modifies.

Content descriptors are not intended to be a listing of every type of content one might encounter in the course of playing a game or using an app. For more detail about how ESRB assigns content descriptors, click here. You can also find more detailed descriptions of video game content, including specific examples, by accessing rating summaries for those games that have them.

Online Rating Notice

Online-enabled video games carry the notice "Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB." This notice warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of user-generated content (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.

For more helpful tips and resources, click here.

About Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently applies and enforces ratings, advertising guidelines, and online privacy principles adopted by the industry.

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