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Thursday, October 18, 2007
Inside The ESRB Raings System
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

A new interview from Gamasutra gives ESRB president Patricia E. Vance a chance to explain what it takes to rate games. The Q&A focuses on those who play and rate the games, touching on topics ranging from the qualifications of the raters to how disagreements between reviewers are handled.

The raters for a game collaboratively determine a proposed rating and set of descriptors. Tell us about how that process has generally worked. Is it typical that raters have the same rating in mind when they get together to discuss a game they're reviewing?
PV: At each scheduled rating session, raters will watch the DVD or videotape together and then each writes down the rating he or she believes to be appropriate, before any discussion takes place. Each will then disclose his or her rating to the group, and discussion will ensue. After discussion, each rater indicates his or her final rating recommendation. As I'm sure you would expect, some games are very easy to agree upon. For example, you typically won't find much disagreement about an E-rated puzzle game. There are, however, inevitably going to be some titles that are "borderline" between two rating categories, and these generate more discussion and require greater deliberation on the part of the raters.
Truth be told, though, I'm just not privy to the conversations that take place when the raters are doing their job. We take the integrity of the process extremely seriously, and nobody else is present in the viewing room when raters are reviewing and discussing content.

How are disagreements among the raters resolved?
PV: Usually through discourse. They express their opinions about the content and recommend ratings to the group that they think are most appropriate, and they'll deliberate together trying to find common ground. They may review submissions for similar games previously rated by ESRB to help with the parity aspect. But ultimately, ratings are based on the majority consensus of raters, not on unanimous agreement, so it's not essential that all the raters completely agree all the time.

Head over to the site below to read more.

Gamasutra: Inside The ESRB Ratings System

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