ESRB Changes

A story on NYTimes.com is titled "Busy Job of Judging Video-Game Content to Be Ceded to Machines," though that's a little misleading, as what's really happening is that the ESRB will begin giving games ratings based on surveys filled out by the developers, though they add that: "Major retail games — the ones advertised on television and stocked by Wal-Mart — will still be evaluated by real people. For now." They explain that there eventually be post-release testing: "All games rated via this new process will be tested by E.S.R.B. staff shortly after they are made publicly available to verify that disclosure was complete and accurate." They do note that the games don't actually get play-tested under the current system either:
The human game classifiers who will soon be ceding work to machines don’t actually play the games. Instead they watch a DVD submitted by a game’s publisher that is supposed to include the raunchiest and most violent scenes, if any. So they have not been experiencing games as they are played.
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Re: ESRB Changes
Apr 18, 2011, 14:54
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Re: ESRB Changes Apr 18, 2011, 14:54
Apr 18, 2011, 14:54
 
If they're still going to bother to assess the content post-release, what is the point of changing the system? It just prevents them from catching anything unexpected before the damage is done. The Times article mentioned there will be "penalties for nondisclosure". That's well and good, but it's the industry as a whole that suffers if the ESRB misleads parents and it becomes a scandal that prompts more restrictive legislation.

I suspect that the "post release testing" will be very minor if it's performed at all. After all, the public will be able to test the game at that stage. Not really testing post release the only way to explain exactly how the ESRB is saving money with this move.
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