Game Ratings & Descriptor Guide
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in computer and video games so consumers, especially parents, can make an informed purchase decision. ESRB ratings have two equal parts:
rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.
ESRB Rating Symbols
EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)
ESRB Content Descriptors
- Alcohol Reference – Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
- Animated Blood– Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
- Blood– Depictions of blood
- Blood and Gore– Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
- Cartoon Violence– Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
- Comic Mischief– Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
- Crude Humor– Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor
- Drug Reference– Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
- Fantasy Violence– Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
- 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
- Language– Mild to moderate use of profanity
- Lyrics– Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Mature Humor – Depictions or dialogue involving “adult” humor, including sexual references
- Nudity – Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
- Partial Nudity – Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
- Real Gambling – Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Sexual Content – Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
- Sexual Themes – References to sex or sexuality
- Sexual Violence – Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
- Simulated Gambling – Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Strong Language – Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
- Strong Lyrics – Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Strong Sexual Content – Explicit and/or frequent depictions 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
- Violence – Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
- Violent References – References to violent acts
When a content descriptor is preceded by the term “Mild,” it is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity of the content it modifies.
Content descriptors are not intended to be a listing of every type of content one might encounter in the course of playing a game. For more detail about how ESRB assigns content descriptors, click here, or to learn how to access ESRB rating summaries for detailed descriptions and specific examples of game content, click here.
Online Rating Notice
Online-enabled games carry the notice “Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB.” This notice warns those who intend to play the game online about possible exposure to chat (text, audio, video) or other types of user-generated content (e.g., maps, skins) that have not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.
For more helpful tips and resources, click here