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A Parent's Guide to Video Game Ratings

Updated on June 1, 2011
ESRB Game Rating Guide
ESRB Game Rating Guide

Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB Board). If you are a parent who is concerned about the game content your child is viewing, it is a good idea to have a complete understanding of the ratings.

The ESRB ratings are listed on the front and back of the vast majority of game software packages, and they provide impartial details about the content of the software titles.

In addition to the ratings, some games also come with parental controls that can be used to restrict objectionable material.

Early Childhood (EC)

Titles with the Early Childhood rating contain content that is suitable for most children ages 3 and older. These video game titles do not contain any material that most parents would find objectionable.

Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival - Nintendo Wii
Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival - Nintendo Wii

In Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival, kids join Cookie Monster and Big Bird at a fun-filled carnival through gameplay steeped in math skills that include number identification, counting, shapes and pattern recognition.



Titles in this rating category may have material that is suitable for children ages 6 and older. Games rated Everyone could contain minimal fantasy, mild violence, and minimal use of mildly inappropriate language.

The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Control Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan - four unlikely heroes battling creatures from myth and legend.


Everyone 10+

As you might imagine, game titles rated Everyone 10+ have content that may be suitable for most children who are ages 10 and above.

Games in this category may contain mild violence, objectionable language, minimally suggestive themes and fantasy sequences.

Cars 2: The Video Game - Nintendo Wii
Cars 2: The Video Game - Nintendo Wii

Inspired by the upcoming Disney·Pixar animated film, Cars 2: The Video Game lets players jump into the Cars 2 universe with some of their favorite Cars personalities in exotic locations around the globe,



Video game titles in the Teen raging category may have content that is suitable for most children who are ages 13 and older.

Teen titles may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood and gore, simulated gambling scenes, and a minimal amount of strong language.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Xbox 360
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Xbox 360

It has been three years since megatron and the decepticons last threatened the world. Earth's leaders believe that megatron has fled the planet in defeat but optimus prime knows better. An alien transmission is intercepted, exposing megatron's plan to spread chaos and fear among the humans and unleash the ultimate decpticon assassin shockwave: the autobots mush hunt megatron, neutralize shockwave, and save their new home from total destruction at the hands of the decepticons.



Titles that are rated Mature may contain content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. These game titles may contain sexual content, intense violence, blood and gore, and strong language.

Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 is the spectacular conclusion to one of the most memorable and celebrated sagas in videogames. Developed by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360, Gears of War 3 plunges players into a harrowing tale of hope, survival and brotherhood.


Adults Only

Adults Only games should not be played by anyone under 18 years of age. Adults Only titles may contain extended scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content, nudity, and strong language.

Parents should also be aware that "mods" exist - these "mods" are pieces of software that is used to modify a game to make it behave differently from what the manufacturer intended; in other words, a game that is rated Everyone could easily be turned into a game that should be rated Adults Only.

It is essential to check up on your child every now and then, in order to make sure that an appropriate game has not been modified to something inapporpriate.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - PlayStation 2
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - PlayStation 2

It may not be a splashy leap forward, but Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in its own deep, dark way does just as much to move and revolutionize video games as its two predecessors, Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Playboy Mansion Gold Edition
Playboy Mansion Gold Edition

Playboy The Mansion Gold Edition includes all of the content from the original plus you get to create and throw huge parties at the mansion including Midsummer Night's Dream, Hef's Birthday and Playmate Of The Year.


ESRB Ratings Summaries

ESRB Ratings Summaries are another tool that helps parents choose appropriate video games for their children.

Rating Summaries go beyond the game ratings in order to give parents a more comprehensive view of specific video games.


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