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.