ESRB Meaning & Definition

ESRB is the abbreviation for Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulatory body for the interactive entertainment software industry established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently applies and enforces ratings, advertising guidelines, and online privacy principles adopted by the computer and video game industry.

ESRB Ratings

  • EC – Early Childhood Content intended for young children and may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
  • E10+ – Content that is generally suitable for persons ages 10 and up.
  • E – Everyone have content that may be suitable for persons ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.
  • T – Teen have content that may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. May contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.
  • M – Mature have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.
  • AO – Adults Only have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
  • RP – Rating Pending have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. Usually seen in advertising and promotional materials prior to an official release of the game.

The ESRB rating is shown on the front of packaged video games and may also be shown on downloadable games available through console marketplaces and in online app stores.

Additional rating information, called rating summaries are often found on the back of packaged games or in print material for downloadable games. The summary is information designed to give parents detailed descriptions of the kind of content in the game. For example, you may see a game rated E (for Everyone) but additional summary information may include descriptions such as comic mischief or mild lyrics.

ESRB Ratings
Image: ESRB Ratings Guide (source)

The ESRB offers a game search on its website in addition to a free mobile app that allows parents and educators to look up rating information for video games.

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