Taking Modern Video Game Rating Systems to Task (Opinion)

Avid SEGA/Sonic fan and friend of the site Zealous FoX has never been one to pull punches when it comes to expressing his opinion on gaming. He recently unleashed a righteous tirade targeting modern game rating regimes (both the ESRB and Pegi), and we at The Splintering felt like it was worth posting in its entirety here (with permission, of course!).

Zeal takes it from here…

I’m seriously getting to the point where I truly feel the V.R.C. (SEGA’s Video Games Rating Council) makes more sense in today’s gaming sphere than whatever the fuck cluster crap the ESRB has become, and quite frankly has always been, when it comes to rating games/its content.

The ESRB Rating System

Now before [getting started], I’m going to give a heads up… I AM AN ADULT, and I will not hold back on my words regarding this topic as you can see above with already my sailor mouth. Deal with it. This BS ratings shenanigans of today is that infuriating to me.

So, let’s start with what is wrong before trying to somehow figure out what is right or has worked in today’s gaming sphere of using ESRB, compared to the early 90s SEGA rating system, shall we?

(PS: Pegi will be covered as well)

For my first victim of ESRB fucking bullshit ratings, we’ll jump all the way to the mid-to-early 2000s. Because by this point, pretty much everyone was “comfortable” with the ESRB rating their games, mostly. Not me, I saw the BS early on.

Below are two game cases and their ratings.

In pic one’s back case, we have Shadow the Hedgehog, and in pic two’s back case, we have Battalion Wars.

Shadow The Hedgehog is ESRB E-10 (Fantasy Violence/Mild Language)

Battalion Wars is ESRB T (Violence)

Both games are in fictional settings, have military, and released in 2005.

Now if you haven’t discovered the problem yet, here’s a more in-depth look…

Battalion Wars: Has no mild language. In fact, there isn’t a single curse word to be had or any vulgarity. Sure, it is military focused, but it is overly toon-y and the combat is extremely tame. 

Compare that to…

Shadow the Hedgehog: Has mild language of varying degrees, is not trying to be tame in the slightest, has the player freely able to choose to kill or save. Has not just military, but the protagonist uses multiple semi-real firearms + kills aliens’ w/blood. 

And yet somehow… Battalion Wars, which is very safe even for a ten-year-old, is rated (T) and yet doesn’t have 90 percent of what Shadow the Hedgehog has which is mindbogglingly rated (E-10).

Ask yourself… How in the ever-loving flying fuck does that make a lick of sense? 

Now to further my point, let’s talk about before the times of the ESRB (1994-current) and focus on the very first game rating system ever…

SEGA’s V.R.C. Model

Which was devised by the game and entertainment innovators themselves… SEEEEEGAAAA! Called The V.R.C. or Videogame Rating Council. 

Now with the V.R.C., all games SEGA exclusive were rated based on the type of content/themes a game had. It’s like the ESRB except without all the other retarded labels. And instead, as you can see, there’s just three labels: GA, MA-13, MA-17, and N.Y.R. (Not yet rated). 

Now let’s put this into context and group the lunacy that is the many labels that the ESRB uses with the ones from the V.R.C: GA (General Audience) = EC + E (Early Childhood, Everyone) MA-17 (Mature Audiences) = E-10 + T (Everyone 10+, Teen) MA-17 (No minors) = M + AO

If you haven’t realized which is more confusing yet, I’ll give you a simple yet vulgar real world, current day situation. See… in the early 90s, MA-17 meant no minor’s period. An equivalent of this is imagine trying to buy or play the latest COD [Call of Duty] at the age of 12…

One of my major gripes I’ve had with not just the GAMING SPHERE, but the ESRB at large, is with six different rating labels. This opens up a lot of content related loopholes. There’s nothing really straight forward.

By comparison the V.R.C. was in fact, very straight forward. 

So now we come to the Pegi rating system in Europe, which is less… cluttered, unlike the ESRB, but then it gets really pointless when you start adding frilly fucking pictures as your relay of the content/themes for these games. Much like ESRB, it too is loophole crazy!

Europe’s Pegi Rating System

So, I’m just at this stage of “what is the fucking point of these ratings?” if with ESRB an (E) game can slip in E-10 content, a (T) game can have (M) game aspects, and EC (Early Childhood) is non-existent.

More retarded is M (17+) and AO are just a year apart req. wise!

And the more I think about this, the more it infuriates me at how so many fucking just let this stupid shit slide in the GAMING SPHERE!

It’s so convolutedly pointless that what was originally meant purely for SEGA products is more sensible and concise per label.

That I swear there’s some conspiracy against it back in the 90s just because SEGA was the first to have a brain and devise a rating system for video games, in 1993 of all things. Way after Nintendo’s chokehold of the gaming market for nearly a fucking decade…

I don’t give a rat’s ass about the politics regarding why the ESRB came to be and has continued to exist despite its clear, selectively rated bullshit.

With how useless the fucking ESRB/Pegi/Cero systems are… WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT???

It is time for a 1993 change…


You can follow Zealous FoX on social media here

Thanks for reading!

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