Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to Congress 15 Years Ago

July 29, 2009 -

It was 15 years ago today that the video game industry introduced the ESRB rating system to Congress, reports Wired's This Day in Tech blog.

The move came in the wake of Congressional criticism of game violence, particularly the original Mortal Kombat, which seems laughably tame by today's standards. Wired's Chris Kohler writes:

The [Congressional] hearings were largely a response to the popularity of... Mortal Kombat...

Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln and Sega vice president Bill White took potshots at each other during the hearing. Lincoln said that the Sega CD game Night Trap, another photorealistic, occasionally violent game that the company had rated MA-17, “simply has no place in our society” and testified that “small children” had bought it.

Meanwhile, White’s position was that Sega was more responsible than Nintendo, because his company had [its own] rating system in place...  [Connecticut Sen. Joe] Lieberman would later express his shock that the two executives went after each other with such ferocity.

Lieberman's threat to regulate game content via legislation persuaded the game biz to get its act together. The IDSA (now known as the ESA) was formed and quickly set up the ESRB, which went into operation on September 1st, 1994.

Comments

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

"Lieberman's threat to regulate game content via legislation persuaded the game biz to get its act together."

If by "get its act together" you mean "do exactly what the government wanted them to do while getting to pretend it was all voluntary", then yeah... the industry got its act together. The music industry, too, was once similarly threatened, and so with the movie industry, and the comic book industry. They all caved to pressure from congress. It's regulation through intimidation.

I wonder what's the point of having constitutionally protected speech when the industries that produce such speech will bend over backwards at any threat of regulation.

I wish more industries had the backbone to tell congress to fuck off just like webmasters did back when congress tried to regulate internet content (Communications Decency Act).

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

The worst offenders when it comes to willingly bending over are broadcast radio and television. I suspect it has something to with the fact that they need their FCC licenses in order to keep on broadcasting. 

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

So part of the ESRB's creation was due to complete falsehoods about Night Trap perpretraded by completely ignorant politicians?

Yeah, yet another reason why the ESRB needs to crawl away and die.

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

We need to get a gamer into the Senate and just have him start a filibuster in which he brings in a giant screen and a PS3 and just plays games in front of the Senate and talks them through them.

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

I'd rather them bring an Xbox 360 or a PC; For only one reason, Mass Effect isn't on the PS3 so we can't show them the hot naked tits everywhere lesbian action.

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Papa Midnight
http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

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Papa Midnight

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

The people who attacked this game are idiots

You run out of bullets not enemies

Never underestimate the power of idiots in large amounts.

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

Those who condemned Night Trap for its violence would have been completely humiliated had they ever bothered to take a look at it.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

No one actually EVER looks at it. They just jump on the bandwagon. News organizations have done this for years.

----
Papa Midnight
http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

----
Papa Midnight

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

And now there are people who would like to eliminate it and replace it with a far more restrictive system

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

I assume that this was when the infamous "promise to Congress" which forever contractually bound the manufacturers and the ESRB to an entirely voluntary rating system was made.

 

Re: Happy Birthday ESRB: Game Biz Unveiled Rating System to ...

IIRC, Lieberman testified that the goal of Night Trap was to trap the women in the game and mutilate them, wich is complete BS.

The goal was to prevent that.

An all too typical case of politicians failing to do any homework and talking out of their butts on topics they are completely ignorant of.

------ Ago. Perceptum. Teneo.

 
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Andrew EisenI'm just waiting to buy a new Gamecube controller for my Gamecube.11/22/2014 - 7:15pm
Wonderkarphttp://kotaku.com/smash-bros-gamecube-adapters-sold-out-online-prices-g-1662162871 Smash Bros Gamecube adapter sold out, online prices go nuts11/22/2014 - 6:50pm
Andrew EisenI bet there's a lovely comedy of errors surrounding that list's journey to the IGDA's page!11/22/2014 - 6:49pm
Andrew EisenAnd the fact that it was curated by some random person on Twitter should have been another.11/22/2014 - 6:48pm
Andrew EisenYep, it's pretty clear that whoever at the IGDA grabbed that list, didn't look at it first. I think the fact that there's over 10,000 names on it should have been a bit of a red flag.11/22/2014 - 6:44pm
Wonderkarppenguin books is on the list. wow.11/22/2014 - 6:43pm
Wonderkarpthats better, though I'd prefer something a little more than a simple tweet, I'll take it.11/22/2014 - 6:37pm
Andrew EisenKate Edwards' Twitter: "like people, tools are imperfect; we've removed it for now."11/22/2014 - 6:35pm
Andrew EisenHard to say with any certainty but it appears it at least understands the tool didn't do what it thought it did.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
WonderkarpI've yet to find the IGDA responding too the situation other than deleting a link.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
Matthew WilsonI hope the IGDA understands why its a mistake, that's all I want.11/22/2014 - 6:33pm
Andrew EisenHeh, lawyering up would be grossly overracting! And really silly. Well, if what the IGDA did say was not enough for you, try contacting them and letting them know how you feel.11/22/2014 - 6:31pm
Wonderkarpall I want is an apology from the IGDA. nothing fancy, not even addressed to me. Just something that says, "We messed up. We're Sorry" thats it. Not exactly those words except Sorry. If I was overreacting, I'd be lawyering up.11/22/2014 - 6:29pm
Andrew EisenI get it, I just think you're taking it the wrong way and overreacting.11/22/2014 - 6:27pm
Wonderkarpatleast Matthew understands why I am miffed at that list11/22/2014 - 6:26pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - That I agree with. Linking to that list was silly. Hopefully IGDA will more carefully vet the resources it links to make sure they do what they're supposed to.11/22/2014 - 6:25pm
Andrew EisenNope. No insults.11/22/2014 - 6:21pm
WonderkarpAnd here come the insults. Wanna throw some more?11/22/2014 - 6:18pm
Andrew EisenYou're an English major? Wow.11/22/2014 - 6:16pm
Matthew Wilsonno I am glad they did, but I want this talked about so it does not happen again.11/22/2014 - 6:15pm
 

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