The Need for Content Ratings
Video games have become mainstream. As games become a mass-market medium, the industry inevitably faces the need for a standardized system to rate the ever-increasing variety of content available.
Digital distribution has made content accessible to millions of consumers literally at the click of a button. These consumers range from the traditional twenty-something male, to the 35+ mom, to the elderly, to children (as young as two!). With this ease of access, concern over content not suitable for children is growing and the question is lingering among parents: “How do I know which games are okay for my kids to play?”
A recent study shows that parents aren’t always aware of the types of content contained in the games their children are playing—even if they are aware of the rating. The study revealed that when given a descriptor of the type of content contained in a game and asked to rate the game, parents found that the games contained content that was more adult than they expected. One parent stated, “I don’t trust the rating system as it currently stands. And many of the games out there that my kids are downloading … don’t even have ratings.”
Prepare for the Future
As video games become a mass market medium, a standardized content rating system must emerge in order to meet the demand from consumers in the distribution of content not deemed appropriate for small children. While most games typically have very little mature content, some games do contain themes that are not suitable for small children. A standardized and affordable system will allow resellers and parents to filter content more accurately.
Great! Where Do We Start?
The Casual Games Association has launched a major effort to give the games industry its first universally viable content rating program. The CGA is working to develop an affordable and effective system that serves the needs of the entire community: consumers, developers and distributors. Publishers have long needed an affordable system that works; a system that does not bog down the development process. Consumers need a system they can effectively rely on to protect their children from inappropriate content.