A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower Ratings

November 18, 2009 -

Speaking at the recent Montreal International Game Summit, the CEO of a game development company complained that publishers are deliberately deceiving the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in a bid to receive lower age ratings.

Rémi Racine of Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), creator of Wet and the upcoming PSP version of Dante’s Inferno, said that publishers who attempt to trick the ESRB are looking for a wider audience—and subsequent profits— for their game.

Edge Online offered the following quote from Racine:

As a developer who has worked with a lot of different publishers, we’re aware of many that have tried to cheat the rating. They say to the ERSB that it’s a Teen rating [13+] rather than an Mature [17+] to try and sell more; you can do this just by sending them a video that doesn’t show the most violent stuff and then you’ll get the rating that you want rather than the rating you should get.

The ESRB’s Eliot Mizrachi addressed Racine’s claims, saying:

We regularly check games post-release to verify that submissions were complete, and it’s very likely that if a game contains undisclosed content that would have affected the rating assigned, we’ll find out about it. In such cases ESRB can actually impose fines up to $1 million as well as require corrective actions like re-labeling or even recalling product, both of which can obviously be very costly.

Racine’s comments came from a panel which discussed the social responsibility owed to consumers by those who make up the game industry. Racine was also blunt in his assessment of the game industry’s effectiveness at educating consumers:

Right now I don’t think the industry is doing enough to educate the audience. The ERSB is supposed to do it, but it feels like we just kind of expect these kind of industry or government bodies to do the job for us. As much as I don’t think it’s the place of EA or Activision to go off and try and inform parents on their own, a more active role needs to be taken by all participants to ensure our artists are free to express themselves and that content can be enjoyed responsibly.


Comments

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Should I need to say it again?

The ESRB, same with the BBFC, PEGI and yes even the OFLC are all nothing but umpires/referees in a football match.

Even though we don't like the decisions they make, all we can do a game developers is just get on with the game and play ball.

If you argue against the umpire/referee even though you think you might be right, the umpire/referee is never going to change their decision and we all have to just get out heads back into the game before we turn out to be the real looser.

And even though we sometimes don't like their decision, we should respect them because they have made decisions that were to our advantage like allowing us all the violent videogames that we can play because they said that they were well within their laws even though the politicians only bitched and moaned and argued against the people who they put in charge of rating videogames.

The people at the ESRB and so on, are there doing the best job they can. If you don't like it, would you rather politicians calling all the shots instead?

I hope you all get that clear,  do you?

 

TBoneTony

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

I agree w/some of you on this post that Racine doesn't obviously know what he is talking about when he thinks the ESRB or the EA or Activision shouldn't educate the audience. ESRB does show their ratings on their site & tells them what each rating means for a game. But that is for the public, so they are educating people. I think it's wrong that companies send in a video of the most non-violent parts of a game. That is being dishonest, but if that means making more money they are cutting off more their noses to spite their faces & that is not good. Besides even if they did send in the violent parts of a game, wouldn't more adults or over 17+ be inclined to buy the game?

 

 

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Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

On occasion things slip through any rating system, the famous exposed genitals in Teenwolf, the 'suicide ad' on Top Gear etc, no system is perfect, but trying to extract some kind of Thompson-esque conspiracy theory about it all leaves me dubious to say the very least.

I must admit that I can't help detecting sour-grapes involved in the comments, for a start, I was under the impression that the ESRB did not rate from Video only, and secondly, if this is happening so often, how come the last game that was reclassified on the basis of content is Oblivion.

Is the ESRB somehow part of a big conspiracy to fool itself? That doesn't make any sense, I find that I'm wondering about the fact this gentleman has worked with 'several' developers and wonder what the reasons were for leaving each one.

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

I think Racine's lying.

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Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

While blowing a whistle at the same time. Kinda makes me envious. I'm still trying to master walking while chewing gum.

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

While it wasn't part of my quoted statement, it's worth mentioning that ESRB works aggressively to educate the public about the ratings, as does the industry at large.  There are some examples of our efforts on our website at http://www.esrb.org/about/education.jsp as well as examples of our PSA campaigns in our Media Library at http://www.esrb.org/about/media_library.jsp. 

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

This is true, but no matter how well the ESRB dose things without a T 15 level to balance things, more and more issues will pile up around the T and M levels. Like E10 you guys need to get on the ball and put in a T15 level where minor gore and foul language(think Halo and Castlvina,war sims with no decapitation/mutliation) wont be wrote off as something strictly "mature".


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Why is it the best kept secrets are the most logical and common sensical...  Of course publishers will try and get the ranting down to a T for obvious reasons, however I think publishers would be better off if they focused on the ESRB and got them to accept a T15 level so M can be a bit harder content wise.



Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

I agree but it's unlikely to happen until the MPAA places a rating in between PG-13 and R or splits the R rating into two catagories like a soft R15/16 and a harder R17/18.

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"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

The MPAA follows thier rules so poorly it dose not really matter what they do IMO...


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Well I have played some T-rated games that seem to be on the border line between Teen and Mature, but after the Hot Coffie fiasco I don't think any company would risk deceving the ESBR.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Boo friggin' Hoo. The same kind of crap happens between movies and the MPAA.

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

How could that happen? The MPAA requires that the entire movie as intended for release be submitted for review. How would it be possible to withold particular content in order to get a particular rating when the entire movie has to be submitted? I guess you could release a version dissimilar to the one submitted for the MPAA's review and rating but if you get caught doing that, I'd imagine you'd be in deep doo-doo with the MPAA. 

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Ya put the MPAA has a get out of lable free card with not rated and they soemtiems ignore things to let thier friends get in a film at a lower ranting...not to mention make smokeing an R worthy offence.... the MPAA is corrupted and lax....


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Unless it's underage smoking, depictions of smoking do not automatically qualify a film for an "R" rating. It is only a factor (among many other factors) which the MPAA, under certain circumstances (e.g., are the depictions of smoking pervasive and do they tend to glamorize smoking, etc.), will consider when rating a film.

And "not rated" isn't a rating which the MPAA gives any film. A film "not rated" usually means that the producers didn't submit the film to the MPAA for a rating or didn't want the rating they received. And if a film isn't rated by the MPAA, it won't get screened in any of the major theatre chains.

Quit making stuff up, Zippy. There's no "media mafia."

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Ummm no they tried to make smokeing a defult R, and they have a harder time rating some films than the ESRB dose, also they don;t stick frimly to thier rules. "Not rated" is soemthign that at this time can not be done in retial gaming, DVDs use it all the time to not get hit with the NC17 rating.

 

I was merely pointing out all the holes in the MPAA. And BTW I make up less "stuff" than you and DS do :P


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

The MPAA didn't try to make smoking a default "R." The anti-smoking lobby tried to force the MPAA to make smoking a default "R" but the MPAA refused and said they would, instead, consider it as a factor among many other factors. And if DVDs are being retailed without an MPAA rating, that's not the fault of the MPAA. Blame the publishers for selling their DVDs without an MPAA rating. The MPAA, like the ESRB, is voluntary. They can't force a publisher to have an MPAA rating on their product.

And you weren't merely pointing out holes in the MPAA. As usual, you were merely stoking the fires of your "media mafia" conspiracy theory with bullshit facts you either: (a) made up outta thin air or (b) didn't double-check for accuracy. 

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

uhg they would not have tried to make smokeing an R if they were not so buddy buddy with the brain dead anti lobbys, and its well know the MPAA dose not stick to all its rules.


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Wait, so he doesn't want to depend on groups like the ESRB to educate the audiences, but he doesn't think individual companies should do it either.

...

Who the hell is left?!

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Rémi "The Rat" Racine. Stop the snitching. You never know. Tomorrow you may need someone to keep your secrets.

Re: A2M CEO: Publishers Mislead ESRB in Hunt for Lower ...

Something gives me the impression that he's bitter he couldn't convince the ESRB to rate his schlocky crap that was Wet "Teen" (well, it got an 18 here in the UK at least).

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E. Zachary KnightSo a journalist reporting on general gaming news mentions a specific developer and their game involved in said news, and it is suddenly some nefarious conspiracy to hide a conflict of interest. I think someone is reaching for validation.10/02/2014 - 10:53am
Andrew EisenYes, imagine anyone insisting that two utterences of the phrase "Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn" wasn't influenced by something happening in the future!10/02/2014 - 10:52am
Sleaker@Pap Midnight - So wouldn't it be any journalist writing about general gaming culture would need to disclose any and all links/ties to said general gaming culture to be ethical? Also @EZK to use you're own methodology, I'm still curious on the question10/02/2014 - 10:49am
KronoSure none of those are reviews, but it is positive exposure, which as illustrated by The Fine Young Capitalists, is pretty damn important for getting people to check out your work.10/02/2014 - 10:32am
Krono@Midnight and of course the article most people mention and insist was no way influenced by him being romantically involved only days later, and her friend beforehand here: http://goo.gl/xCzivK10/02/2014 - 10:29am
Papa MidnightThe term "lovers" might be pushing it given the apparent time frame, but I understand what you're saying. Even if they were friends at the time, then that may present impropiety. However, that calls for a Magic-8-Ball level of speculation.10/02/2014 - 10:26am
Krono@Midnight She was a guest on an RPS show he cohosted here: http://goo.gl/QxljSG10/02/2014 - 10:24am
prh99Personally I'd say her original piece on Bronies was far more ethically questionable. Though for different reasons.10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Krono@Midnight On the Grayson relationship? For starters it depends on how long they were friends before they were lovers. Nathan gave Depression Quest top billing back in this article: http://goo.gl/tqGsnW10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Papa MidnightIf said journalist, however, is placed into a position where they have to write about matters dealing with DICE, then yes, a COI is present and should be declared.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightHypothetically, if a developer from DICE starts dating a tech journalist from CNN tomorrow, so long as said CNN journalist is not (in)directly involved in any editorial process regarding matters dealing with DICE, there's no need to declare a COI.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightThere's no need for it. A declaration of a Conflict of Interest is only necessary in the event that the parties may be placed into a situation where the conflict may become a factor.10/02/2014 - 10:16am
Krono@prh99 It was after #gamergate. There was a post on r/games that called out the lack of disclosure.10/02/2014 - 10:12am
Papa MidnightKrono: If the purpose of such was to expose some conflict of interest, I am not sure what the purpose or end objective was. Specifically, said relationship had not produced any works positive or otherwise. Where's the beef?10/02/2014 - 10:09am
prh99I don't know, the update isn't dated. Also, actual attempt at deception or absent mindedness? "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"10/02/2014 - 10:06am
Krono@prh99 disclosed in an update after #gamergate noticed and called it out.10/02/2014 - 10:04am
Papa MidnightDriving people from their homes. e-Letter bombing (for all practical intents and purposes) advertisers like they're the FCC after a certain Superbowl half-time show to pull advertising from a media outlet for the crime of having an opinion?10/02/2014 - 10:00am
Papa MidnightIt's hard to drape yourself in the glory of your righteous campaign when you're exposing the personal information of a person, and following up with a campaign of harassment (organised or ortherwise). 12 year olds calling your personal cell for Five Guys?10/02/2014 - 9:58am
prh99http://kotaku.com/anna-anthropy-designer-behind-dys4ia-and-triad-and-au-1448084641 <--relationship disclosed10/02/2014 - 9:57am
Papa MidnightEven to this day, that remains the primary citation of those embarking in it. That said, the whole "it's not about harrassment" thing is comparable to making an extremely racist statement, then following up by saying "but I'm not a racist."10/02/2014 - 9:56am
 

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