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Video Game Ratings

Video and computer games are popular among people of all ages. About 67% of Americans play video games on at least one device including video game consoles, computers, tablets, or smartphones. Children play video games on average about two hours a day.

The content of today’s video and computer games varies widely. Games have information about the content that can help buyers and players decide whether a particular game is suitable for purchasing, downloading, or playing for free online.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board maintains a two-part rating system for video and computer games. First, is the lettered rating symbol, such as E or M. The letter suggests the game’s age appropriateness. Second are the content descriptors, such as “intense violence,” which point out specific elements of the game that have caused the rating and that may be of concern.

Players can change the content of a rated game by downloading software from the Internet onto their computers. These programs, called “mods,” can make a game’s content more explicit than the rating indicates. This in turn, could make the game inappropriate for players like kids and teens. 

Games rated AO (Adult Only) have content that is suitable only for people 18 and older. These games may include, “prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.” Games rated M (mature) “have content that may be suitable for people over 17, and may contain, “intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and strong language.”

Games rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for kids over 13. They may contain, “violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, and the use of strong language.” Games rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for kids at least 10. These games may contain, “more cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.” 

An E (Everyone) rating is found on games that have content that may be suitable for kids at least six years of age. Games rated EC (Early Childhood) are intended for preschoolers who are at least three years old. The games with an EC rating contain no material that parents would find inappropriate.

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