The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is an organization that applies ratings for video games in the Americas. It started in 1994. The ESRB rates games based on the graphic material, language, references to alcohol, violence, and so on.

Some content descriptors are listed below, along with games that have gotten them. Few games get the rating Early Childhood and Adults Only, unless they were specifically made for that target audience (other than instances like the infamous Hot Coffee incident with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Windows.).

Ratings

The symbols ESRB uses are stylized alphabetical letters meant to indicate the game's suitability.

Unrestricted ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Age
suitable
ESRB - E.svg Everyone (E)
TodosMexico.gif
Enfants et AdultesCanada.gif
1998 Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

6+ (1998-2014)

All Ages (2014-Present)

ESRB - E 10+.svg Everyone 10+ (E10+)
Todos +10Mexico.gif
Enfants et Adultes 10+Canada.gif
2004 Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes. 10+
ESRB - T.svg Teen (T)
AdolescentesMexico.gif
AdolescentsCanada.gif
1994 Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language. 13+

Restricted ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Notes Age
suitable
ESRB - M.svg Mature 17+ (M)
Maduro +17Mexico.gif
Jeunes AdultesCanada.gif
1994 Content is generally suitable for anyone aged 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, nudity and/or strong language. Retailers or storefronts may refuse to sell M-rated video games to anyone under the age of 17 unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. ID's may be asked for proof of age. 17+
ESRB - AO.svg Adults Only (AO)
Adultos ÚnicamenteMexico.gif
Adultes SeulementCanada.gif
1994 Content is suitable only for anyone aged 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, blood and gore, graphic sexual content including nudity, and/or gambling with real currency. Storefronts may refuse to sell AO-rated video games to anyone under the age of 18 regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. ID's may be asked for proof of age. Nintendo does not allow any games rated AO to be published for their consoles. 18+

Other ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active
since
Description Examples
ESRB - RP.svg Rating Pending (RP)
Aún Sin CalificarMexico.gif
Côté en AttenteCanada.gif
1994 Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned. Upcoming games, playable demos
ESRB 2013 Shares Info.svg Shares Info
Información CompartidaMexico.gif
2013 Indicates that personal information which has been provided by a user is shared via third-party programs.
ESRB 2013 Shares Location.svg Shares Location
Ubicación ComparteMexico.gif
2013 Users of the same app can share their locations with others.
ESRB 2013 Users Interact.svg Users Interact
Interacción de UsuariosMexico.gif
2013 Indicates that users can chat user-to-user and may be exposed to unfiltered, user-generated content.
This product does not require age classification 1994 Products with this are exempt from the ESRB system due to their content not being game related. applications, books, subscription services

Discontinued ratings

Abbreviation Rating Active Description Age
suitable
ESRB - EC.svg Early Childhood (EC)
Niños PequenosMexico.gif
Jeunes EnfantsCanada.gif
1994-2014 Content is intended for young children. In 2014, the EC rating was no longer used for video games, they will instead be rated E. 3+
ESRB KA.png Kids to Adults (K-A) 19941998 These titles will appeal to people of many ages and tastes. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief (i.e. slapstick and gross-out comedy), or some crude language. Examples are Castlevania: Dracula X, Super Mario 64, Tetris and Diddy Kong Racing. This rating got replaced in the year 1998 by the E rating, which replaced all previously rated games that were Kids to Adults. 6+

Content

Rating Description Which ratings it is used for
Alcohol Reference Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages. E, E10+, T, M
Animated Blood Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood. E, E10+, T
Blood Depictions of blood. E (Mild), E10+ (Mild), T, M, AO
Blood and Gore Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts. T, M, AO
Cartoon Violence Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. E ,E10+, T
Comic Mischief Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor. E, E10+, T
Crude Humor Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor. E (Mild), E10+, T
Drug Reference Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs. E10+, T, M
Fantasy Violence Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life. E, E10+, T, M
Intense Violence Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death. M, AO
Language Mild to moderate use of profanity. E (Mild), E10+,T, M
Lyrics Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music. E (Mild), E10+, T, M
Mature Humor Depictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references. T, M
Nudity Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity. M, AO
Partial Nudity Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity. T, M
Real Gambling Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency. AO
Sexual Content Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity. T (Rare), M
Sexual Themes References to sex or sexuality. E10+ (Mild), T, M
Sexual Violence Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts. M, AO
Simulated Gambling Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency. E, E10+, T, M
Strong Language Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity. T (formerly), M, AO
Strong Lyrics Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music. T, M, AO
Strong Sexual Content Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity. M, AO
Suggestive Themes Mild provocative references or materials. E, E10+ ,T, M
Tobacco Reference Reference to and/or images of tobacco products. E, E10+, T, M
Use of Alcohol The consumption of alcoholic beverages. E (Infrequent), E10+, T, M, AO
Use of Drugs The consumption or use of illegal drugs. T, M, AO
Use of Tobacco The consumption of tobacco products. E (Infrequent), E10+, T, M
Violence Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment. E (Mild), E10+, T, M, AO
Violent References References to violent acts.  E, E10+, T, M

Where ESRB is used

Country Notes
Canada ESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
Legally enforced by the Ontario Film Review Board in Ontario
Legally enforced by the Manitoba Film Classification Board in Manitoba
Malaysia Not officially recognized or enforced. ESRB ratings are found on official Nintendo products in this country.
Mexico ESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
Saudi Arabia Not officially recognized or enforced. ESRB ratings are found on official Nintendo products in this country.
Singapore Not officially recognized or enforced. ESRB ratings are found on official Nintendo products in this country.
United Arab Emirates Not officially recognized or enforced. ESRB ratings are found on official Nintendo products in this country.
United States ESRB is officially adopted and legislation is in place to enforce the age classification in shops where video games are sold.
A series of senate hearings in 1992 and 1994 created the ESRB

Trivia

See also

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.