Parents recognize ESRB ratings, maybe ignore them

By Spencer . December 5, 2006 . 3:16pm

While the ESRB has had its fair share of controversy, a survey study by the Harrison Group and Activision suggest that the ratings are having an effect. Eighty-four percent of parents were “very familiar” with the ESRB rating system and seventy-nine percent said they pay close attention to the ESRB ratings. Over half of the parents (56%) consider the ESRB rating as their top purchase influencer when they are purchasing a game for a child. Fifty two percent of parents take it a step further by researching games by reading websites before buying a title for their kids. The numbers look favorable, but there is a sharp decline between parents that are familiar with the ESRB ratings versus the parents that consider them as their top purchasing influence. It looks like there is an even chance that a parent would consider the ESRB ratings versus ignoring them. The ESRB ratings are just like any other rating system, a suggestion. It’s up to parents to decide what is acceptable and not acceptable for their children and the 52% of parents doing pre-purchase research on games are doing that. I wonder what are the other 48% of parents consider before buying a game. The cover art?

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  • Casey Anderson

    I still can’t believe some parents will buy any game for their really young kids.

    I was at a Circuit City checkout once, and a dad with his 9 year old son were in front of me. The dad was asking his kid “Are you sure this is the one you want?” The kid said yes, showing his copy of Silent Hill 3.

    At an EB too, some kids that looked about 10 or 11 were looking at PS2 games with their mom. She asked them if they had this one already pointing at GTA III, and they said yes.

    I mean, I’d probably buy some M rated games if I had kids and they were in junior high, I’m not a prude or anything, but that’s really just too young.

  • ragingdwarf

    Where I work, parents buy games not meant for their kids just because it’s what the little monster wants. I’ve even made it a point to explain the reason a game’s rated the way it is, and a lot of times I just get the “Ah. He’s played worse” response. Other times I have a very grateful parent whose kid insists that I’m crazy and I don’t know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing better than watching a kid lie through his teeth trying to convince mom and dad that the game’s ok to play and that I’m just making a bunch of it up.

    I think the ESRB could do a better effort of explaining the ratings system by posting their ad campaigns in something other than videogame magazines. Newspaper ads, larger published “soccer mom” rags, and by airing their commercials on daytime TV as opposed to soley during the MTV peak times (8-11pm). If they tried to broaden there effort in that fashion, I think that they would have a better success rate than they do. As it stands, they are basically preaching to the choir.

  • D-Fuse

    The ESRB is doing better than before. Now commercials have sayings that say “rated T for teen” or “rated E” while the ads air. It’s only a matter of time until the ratings are generally accepted and understood like movie ratings. What could help is a huge bar in all game stores explaining what each rating means.

  • Casey Anderson

    Even though movie ratings are “generally accepted and understood,” it doesn’t stop some parents taking their kids to movies they shouldn’t be watching. A friend of mine was telling me that when he saw A History of Violence, a mom brought her young kids to see it and one of them threw up after one of the sex scenes! Ha!

    Some parents just don’t care and there’s nothing the ESRB can do about it.

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