The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was created in 1994. It was a response to the increasingly popular video games which contained violent content.
The ESRB rating system for video games gives each computer game a content based rating for age appropriateness.
Six ESRB ratings exist. We list them below. Or alternatively, check out the ESRB’s ratings guide.
These go into a little more detail about what a particular game contains.
- Blood / Gore
ESRB Video Game Ratings
Rating: EC (Early Childhood)
Essentially games for young children.
“contain no material that parents would find inappropriate”ESRB
Example: Bubble Guppies
Rating: E (Everyone)
Suitable for players of all ages.
Content descriptors could include: “Comic Mischief” and “Mild Lyrics” on an E-rated game.
“minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language”ESRB
Example: PJ Mask: Heroes of the Night
Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
The E10+ rating if for games appropriate 10 years plus
“more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.”ESRB
Content descriptors could include “Mild Blood”, “Fantasy Violence,” or “Alcohol Reference.”
Examples: The Legend of Zelda: Breadth of the Wild
Rating: T (Teen)
Suitable for players 13 and up.
“may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.”ESRB
Typical content descriptors: “Violence,” “Partial Nudity,” and “Blood and Gore,”
Example: The Sims 4
Rating: M (Mature)
Only for 17 years and older.
“intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”ESRB
Content Descriptors: “Mature Humor.”, “Sexual Themes,” “Use of Drugs,”
Example: Call of Duty: WWII.
Rating: AO (Adults Only)
The AO rating is only suitable for over 18s.
This rating is rare because it prevents software companies from accessing large markets. Most games that look like they may end up being given this rating are edited to get the M rating.
“prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.”ESRB
Rating: RP (Rating Pending)
This rating is for games pending a rating decision. These will have been submitted but have yet to be rated. Typically, it’s put on marketing materials before launch.
Note, games bought on digital platforms like mobile phones or Google Stadia may not be ESRB rated. Do your research and check the ESRC website or search packaging images for the Playstation and XBOX versions of the games to check it a game is suitable for your family.
Finally, if you’re wondering how to talk to your kids about certain games or approaching the topic of gaming then the ESRB have a handy parent guide.