PSA: Check ESRB ratings before buying games for your kids

As a parent of two and long time gamer, I habitually check ESRB ratings to make educated decisions about what games we play in my house. What do you know about ESRB and are you sure your children are playing appropriate games for their age?

In North America, video games have had the luxury of the ESRB rating system for nearly 20 years. With so many eyes looking at new consoles like the Wii U, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 (saved best for last people), parents need to exercise due diligence when shopping, buying and playing games with their kids.

This PSA video was created by the ESA and Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to inform parents about the ratings system and raise awareness about knowing how it works. Allow me to assist with this educational process.

ESRB Ratings Categories

esrb ratings symbol for ec games EARLY CHILDHOOD
Content is intended for young children.
esrb ratings symbol for E-rated games EVERYONE
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
esrb ratings symbol for e10 games EVERYONE 10+
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
esrb ratings symbol for T-rated games TEEN
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.
esrb ratings symbol for m-rated games MATURE
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
esrb ratings symbol for AO-rated games ADULTS ONLY
Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.
esrb ratings symbol for rp rating RATING PENDING
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.

In addition to understanding and recognizing the ESRB ratings on games in retail and on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and eShop it’s may be beneficial to explain to your children why some games aren’t appropriate. How many times have you seen a 6-10 year old in a GameStop successfully convince his parent(s) to get him the latest Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty game? Ultimately, the parent dictates what is appropriate for their children. ESRB ratings are there to help make that decision easier.

Adversely, Disney Infinity is rated E10+, but I guarantee you that I’m not the only adult enjoying this content with his 6 year old. The online aspect and ability to create levels from one’s imagination must also be considered when allowing your kids to go online. Currently, 13 games for PS4 have ESRB ratings from E for Everyone to M for Mature.

Furthermore, game consoles themselves have the ability to block content not suitable for kids. On PS3 for example, Parental Settings can be found under the Settings column and in the Security Settings menu. Here, a parent can set a password to block access to games and movies as well as hide the thumbnail image associated with the blocked content.

To find out more, go to and read the owner’s manual that came with your gaming console. We will have How To videos uploaded to the PS4Daily YouTube channel to show off exactly how to do this on PlayStation 4 later this month.

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  • bizzy gie

    Let’s get these squeakers out of COD lobbies!

    GO ESRB!!!!

    • KosmoCrisis

      I think I like that term better than what I’ve heard before. Does “squeakers” include the grown ups that use the voice modulator on PS3? Ooh, I wonder if that will make it onto PS4!?!

    • Ducked

      How about people who have squeaky voices on the mic get kicked out! 😀

    • PEGI!

  • Guhtere

    I like how people the media acts like they do nothing to stop kids from buying violent video games and just ignore the ESRB. They should blame bad parents, not the video games.

    • KosmoCrisis

      I agree…I think. It’s all about good parenting. I wish Walmart was such a powerful force, because we might have AO rated games on consoles. Not that I’d actually play Postal on PS4 though.

  • Hipster Victor

    Yes parents please read the ratings, they are made to avoid having your child to be violent, and then you blame the industry for crime -_-

  • Deezy

    It’s shameful for us human beings if this topic have to be mentioned. Also, it hurts to see an adult as mature as a 13 year old. #justsad

  • Deezy


  • Madmagican

    It’s a good PSA but the ESRB ratings can definitely be a little too vague at times (like the difference between Ace Attorney 5 and COD; they’re both rated M but for completely different reasons and the Ace Attorney games are better seen as a middle ground between T and M)
    this is why I like the Pegi system since it’s a little more specific (3, 7, 10, 12, 16, 18) that distinction between 10 and 12 and between 16 and 18 is a lot easier to understand by parents

    • Ace J

      wow I didn’t even know ace attorney was rated M

      • Madmagican

        Only Ace Attorney 5 is rated M but most people don’t know that since it was a eShop download only
        all the other Ace Attorney games were T

  • Ducked

    They should fee parents who let their kids play M games. It’s ridiculous! Do they not know it can effect them!?

    • Ace J

      it depends on the kid. when i was 12 i played resident evil. which is a M rated game. and i turned out just fine lol. I wasn’t affected in any way what so ever.