The Electronic Software Ratings Board announced a new, streamlined way to rate the flood of digital-download games washing into the market:
The ESRB’s new “Digital Rating Service” gives developers and publishers access to a “brief but detailed online questionnaire” to define a product’s content, age-appropriateness, interactive elements, and platforms.
The new ratings take into account age-appropriateness but also whether a game shares user data. It’s also based on a self-report questionnaire. We can envision some epic trolling. What is to prevent, say, Hotline: Miami developer Cactus from rating his game E for Everyone? “No, of course it doesn’t feature any fatal eye gougings!” And what is then preventing little Timmy from playing himself right into a visit to the child psychologist?
Jokes aside for a moment, remember that just last summer, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that would have made illegal the sale of adult-rated games to children. Now imagine a child traumatized because of an ill-considered self-report rating. The possibilities for outrage, potential censorship (and yes, laffs) are endless.