SOURCE: Entertainment Software Rating Board

Entertainment Software Rating Board

December 01, 2009 14:49 ET

Holiday Boon to Parents: ESRB Releases Free Rating Search App for iPhone

New App Gives Parents Access to Rating Summaries Right From the Store When Shopping for Video Games; National TV and Radio PSA Campaign Informs Parents

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 1, 2009) - Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) -- which assigns age and content ratings for computer and video games -- has developed a free iPhone app giving parents instant, on-the-spot access to its new 'rating summaries' right at the store when making decisions about which games to give as gifts. To educate parents about ratings, rating summaries and the new rating search app, ESRB developed a new series of TV and radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) ads that will begin airing nationwide in the coming days. Major video game retailers will also air the PSAs in their stores throughout the coming year.

Rating summaries, which are provided by ESRB but are not displayed on game boxes as are the ESRB ratings and content descriptors, give parents a detailed, straight-forward explanation of the context and relevant content that factored into a game's rating. They go beyond a game's rating by elaborating on its content descriptors and explaining its context, helping parents make truly informed game choices for their children.

"Rating summaries provide just the kind of specific, descriptive information that parents find useful when having to make decisions about whether a game is suitable for their child," said ESRB president Patricia Vance. "This new rating search app puts all this information at parents' fingertips when they need it most, right at the store. It's a powerful tool that will help assure parents that the games they give as gifts are not only fun but also appropriate for their children."

The new rating search app is available for free via the iTunes App Store and offers access to ESRB rating information for over 18,000 titles. Rating summaries are available for all games rated since July 1, 2008, which means that many of the games likely to appear on kids' wish lists this year will have rating summaries.

"The holidays are an ideal time to reach parents about the importance of using the ratings and making sure they are bringing home age-appropriate games for their children," added Vance. "ESRB provides resources like ratings and rating summaries to make a parent's job a little easier."

While many video game websites provide in-depth reviews and other helpful content, ESRB rating summaries are unique in that they focus specifically on the content in a game that parents would likely want to know about -- such as violence, sexual or suggestive themes, profanity, depictions or use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and gambling, among others. In addition to being accessible via this new mobile app, rating summaries can be found by searching game titles on ESRB's website at ESRB.org as well as via a rating search widget and customizable ParenTools newsletter.

"This mobile app is exactly the kind of thing we parents need. It gives us more information about a game's content which allows us to make a good, informed decision right on the spot. It's very easy to use, and it's also free!" said Monica Vila, Chief Technology Mom and co-founder of The Online Mom. "Rating summaries take all of the guesswork out of picking games for the kids and serve as a valuable tool for informing the conversations we need to have with them about our decisions regarding what we deem appropriate."

The ESRB video game ratings employ a two-part system. Rating symbols on the front of virtually every game package sold at retail provide an age recommendation, and content descriptors, listed on the back next to the rating symbol, provide information about what's in the game that may have triggered the rating or may be of interest or concern to parents.

Since their inception in 1994, the ESRB ratings have become a trusted resource for parents when choosing computer and video games. In April 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report(1) which found that nine in ten parents are aware of the ESRB ratings, 87% expressed satisfaction, and nearly three quarters use them regularly when choosing games for their children.

A complete list of ratings, content descriptors and their definitions can be found on the ESRB website at www.esrb.org.

About Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently assigns computer and video game content ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry. Visit www.esrb.org for more information.

(1) Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress on the Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children, April 2007

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