Video Game Ratings

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board, a voluntary industry organization, has developed a ratings system that can help parents decide which games their children should be playing based on age. On the front of a game's box is the simple version of the rating, while the back contains a more extended version. For example, a game rated "E" (for everyone) has content that is considered suitable for people ages 6 and older. On the back of the box, the rating may include additional information such as "may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence." The complete list of ratings is as follows:

EC (Early Childhood): content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

E (Everyone): content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

EVERYONE 10+: content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.

T (Teen): content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

M (Mature): content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.

AO (Adults Only): content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

Mediawise.org, a group that researches the effects of all types of media on families, publishes a yearly report card on video games. The following is a list of games that are extremely violent or have particularly repugnant forms of violence, along with a list of popular games that have very low or nonexistent violent content.

Games To Avoid (all rated M)

  • Assassin's Creed
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Conan
  • The Darkness
  • Jericho
  • Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
  • Manhunt 2
  • Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
  • Stranglehold
  • Time Shift
Recommended Low Violence/Non-Violent Games (check rating for age-appropriateness)
  • FIFA Soccer '08
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour
  • Madden NFL '08
  • Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
  • Need for Speed Pro Street
  • The Sims 2: Castaway
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Viva Piñata

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