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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide information about video and computer game content so parents can make informed purchasing decisions. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating or concern.

To take full advantage of the ESRB rating system, it's important to check both the rating symbol (on the front of the game box) and the content descriptors (on the back of the game box).

ESRB Rating Symbols

EC - Early Childhood
EC = Early Childhood
Titles rated EC – Early Childhood have content that may be suitable for persons ages three and older. Titles in this category contain no material that parents would find inappropriate.
E - Everyone
E = Everyone
Titles rated E – Everyone have content that may be suitable for persons ages six and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.
R - Teen
T = Teen
Titles rated T – Teen have content that may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violent content, mild or strong language and/or suggestive themes.
M - Mature
M = Mature
Titles rated 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
AO = Adults Only
Titles rated AO – Adults Only have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adults Only products are not intended for people under the age of 18.
RP - Rating Pending
RP = Rating Pending
Titles listed as RP – Rating Pending have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating.

ESRB Content Descriptors

Alcohol Reference
Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages.
Animated Blood
Cartoon or pixilated depictions of blood.
Depictions of blood.
Blood and Gore
Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts.
Cartoon Violence
Violent actions involving cartoon-like characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted.
Comic Mischief
Scenes depicting slapstick or gross vulgar humor.
Crude Humor
Moderately vulgar antics including "bathroom" humor.
Drug Reference
Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs.
Content of product provides user with specific skills development or reinforcement learning within an entertainment setting. Skill development is an integral part of product.
Fantasy Violence
Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life.
Betting-like behavior.
Overall content of product contains data, facts, resource information, reference materials or instructional text.
Intense Violence
Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death.
Mature Humor
Vulgar and/or crude jokes and antics including bathroom humor.
Mature Sexual Themes
Provocative material, possibly including partial nudity.
Mild Language
Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use.
Mild Lyrics
Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music.
Mild Violence
Mild scenes depicting characters in unsafe and/or violent situations.
Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity.
Partial Nudity
Brief and mild depictions of nudity.
Sexual Violence
Depictions of rape or other sexual acts.
Some Adult Assistance
May Be Needed
Early Childhood descriptor only
Strong Language
Profanity and explicit references to sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use.
Strong Lyrics
Profanity and explicit references to sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music.
Strong Sexual Content
Graphic depiction of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity.
Suggestive Themes
Mild provocative references or materials.
Tobacco Reference
Reference to and/or images of tobacco products.
Use of Drugs
The consumption or use of illegal drugs.
Use of Alcohol
The consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Use of Tobacco
The consumption of tobacco products.
Scenes involving aggressive conflict.

Additionally, online games that include user-generated content (e.g., chat, maps, skins) carry the notice "Game Experience May Change During Online Play" to warn consumers that content created by players of the game has not been rated by the ESRB.

ESRB Helps Parents Choose the Right Games for Their Families

The ESRB rating system is designed to give parents the information they need to evaluate a computer or video game before making a purchase. The ratings are not meant to recommend which games consumers should buy or rent or to serve as the only basis for choosing a product. Rather, parents should use the ESRB ratings in conjunction with their own tastes and standards and their individual knowledge about what's best for their children.

ESRB recommends that parents learn about games before making a purchasing decision. Game reviews printed in newspapers and Web sites are excellent sources of information. To search for games that are appropriate based on age categories and content, use the ESRB online ratings search feature.

ESRB also urges parents to talk with their children about their favorite games. Playing the games with your children helps stimulate those discussions and is a fun way to spend time together. For more information visit the ESRB Web site.