Posted by Birra Hussein

Walk into any store that sells video games and go look at any of your favorite games or the games that interest you the most. You'll probably see one thing in common with all of them: A small black and white rectangle with a letter in it. You may already know this, but yes that's the rating of the game.

What most people probably don't know is who rates these games and what all the letters actually mean. All video game ratings are done by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) which is a self-regulated organization created by the video game industry so that the government would not mess with their industry. Here are the breakdowns of each rating and what they mean.

Early Childhood

Anything with the eC tag on it means its for very young children. Games like Elmo, Dora the Explorer and Teletubbies. You get the idea! I for one never knew about most of these ratings, because you don't really see ratings outside of your interests unless you're a parent.


One of the most popular tags in video game commercials is when at the end of the commercial a robotic voice comes up and says "E! For everyone!" and thats exactly what it means, games for everyone. E games might contain some cartoon, and fantasy aspects or mild violence and language, but generally for everyone.

Everyone +10

For anyone that is 10 years of age and older. The only difference between this and the regular E game is that it might contain more aspects of violence and language.


Teen games are for people 13 years of age and older and could contain things like violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.


The M rating has some of the most popular and most successful games underneath it. Call of Duty, Gears of War, God of War etc. But this is when stores start I.Ding individuals for age requirement. The M games are for anyone 17 years and older and they might contain things like intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. I used to work at Target and we would always get these younger teens coming in trying to buy M games until they adopted the I.D rule; which is whenever you scan a game even if its with a bunch of groceries or clothing the cash register will stop and show I.D for mature games, and won't allow you to continue until a valid Drivers License is run through the system.

Adults Only 18+

Now you may never see to much of these, because they don't really sell AO games commercially in stores like Walmart and Target etc, but they are out there. The AO games are exactly what you think they are. Usually very graphic with violence, blood, nudity, and sex. Anything goes for these games.

Rating Pending

And last, but not least the RP rating for rating pending for games still going through the ESRB system, but start their advertisements early. This will only appear in advertisement until the game has finalized its pending.

Now you might not really care about video game ratings, and think they're pretty stupid, and I felt that way once too. Who were the ESRB to tell me I couldn't play a Batman game because I wasn't 17 yet, not to mention the feeling of embarrassment having to bring your mom to a store just to buy a game for you. Now that I know all the ratings and what they mean I do get way they are in place and why they are enforced. Even if you don't agree with the ratings, you should at least educate yourself on them, and if you're a parent notice what you are buying for your children, because thats when it really matters.

[Source: ESRB]