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.

----
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 EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
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ZippyDSMleehttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133898-Fatal-Frame-V-Coming-Exclusively-to-Wii-U04/22/2014 - 8:50pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a game worth playing if you have a pc/360/ps304/20/2014 - 9:34pm
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