Video Game Ratings: The Breakdown


Have you ever been concerned for your child’s safety or mental health because you had no idea what a video game rating meant? Fear not, for those days are over! I can definitively say as a gamer of over 12 years that I have had experience with them, and with a very conservative family, I understand the need for content descriptors on games. If you’ve ever gone shopping for games, you’ve probably flipped the box over and found one of these symbols:

Needless to say, none of the last three are appropriate for younger kids. I play very few T-rated games for the very reason some people play M-rated titles: The content. Keep in mind, T-rated games are for 13-year-olds and up. If I went to a store and I looked 13, I could buy a T-rated game if I looked the part. But they’d probably ask me for ID if I was purchasing an M-rated game. You don’t see people asking for ID when purchasing R-rated movies, now, do you? There’s a reason; Games are dangerous. For some, games are considered much less harmful than movies, but it’s evident lawmakers don’t think so. Here’s a list of all the content descriptors to be found on game boxes and exactly what they mean:

I’ve found this list very helpful in the past, so I hope it will aid you as much as it has me. But that’s not the end. You have to be extra careful still. Some content descriptors aren’t as particular as I’d like, and really need clarifying. has excellent and detailed descriptions of exactly what is in the games. is the page for the ESRB’s mobile app for checking ratings while you’re at the store, so you won’t have to go back home to check. You can find a quick explanatory commercial for it here:

This app, coupled with the content descriptors, are a great tool for deciding what you want for your kids. I can’t bash you over the head with the trials of video games, or the morality of CG violence and sex, so I’ll just say that what you choose may have more of an impact than you think it will. So choose wisely. Later!


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