Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Manhunt 2 Isn't Take Two's First AO Rating

With all the controversy surrounding Manhunt 2's ESRB rating, I wanted to get a list of games that were rated AO by the ESRB and to my surprise I saw that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PC, PS2, and Xbox was rated with an AO. I thought it was a M rated game, so I checked some different sites and found that Gamespot and Wal-Mart list GTA: San Andreas as rated M. It looks like San Andreas is listed twice on the ESRB site, one for M and the AO. So I e-mailed them and they replied.
"Thank you for contacting the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) with your comments regarding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This is a serious and complex issue, and we appreciate your concern.

Through its investigation, the ESRB determined that the code for the hidden "Hot Coffee" scenes existed on all three platform versions of the game released to the public. The patch to unlock the content on the PC version of the game was made freely available on the Internet, while certain console accessories provided access to the content on the PS2 platform version.

Once it was determined that the previously undisclosed scenes were on the shipped discs, ESRB raters reviewed the original submission of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, without the "Hot Coffee" scenes, and once again assigned the original rating of M (Mature 17+) with content descriptors for Intense Violence, Strong Sexual Content, Strong Language, Blood and Gore, and Use of Drugs. However, when reviewing the newly disclosed "Hot Coffee" scenes, raters assigned an AO (Adults Only 18+) rating, along with a Nudity content descriptor. This discrepancy indicated that the accuracy of the original M rating had been undermined, and resulted in the ESRB's revocation of that rating until new versions could be manufactured and shipped without the "Hot Coffee" content. Copies of the game that are produced without this content on the disc will retain the original M rating.

It is inevitable that some may disagree with the ESRB's actions when considering the rest of the playable content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or other games like it. We simply ask those who disagree to consider that consumers, especially parents, count on ESRB ratings for reliable information about what's in a computer or video game. They deserve to know what they are buying, and the ESRB is both obligated and committed to providing the most reliable ratings information possible. If content that would affect a rating is on the game disc, and it's accessible, it must be considered in the assignment of that rating.

The strength of our self-regulatory system lies in its unique ability to independently evaluate publisher compliance with a wide variety of industry-adopted rules and regulations, and enforce instances of non-compliance with a range of sanctions, including penalties, fines and corrective actions. The interests of parents, gamers, and other consumers are best served by having an effective self-regulatory body, whose actions are objective, judicious and fair. We appreciate your taking the time to write, and hope that you better understand our actions.


Entertainment Software Rating Board"

1 comment:

WildKard said...

Just wanted to let you know that among the different things that can be tracked at Mobygames is ESRB (and many other sytsems around the world) ratings.

Here's the link to all the games the site knows about that are AO. http://www.mobygames.com/attribute/sheet/attributeId,94/ , hope that helps!