ESRB Demands Audit

ESRB Demands Publisher Audit For Hidden Game Content (thanks Gamecloud) reports that the Entertainment Software Rating Board has emailed all major video game publishers restating that: "Fully disclosing hidden content accessible as Easter eggs and via cheat codes has always been part of ESRB's explicitly stated requirements when submitting games to be rated." The following excerpt also includes a puzzling bit about how the board is "concerned" about how third party modifications impact the "credibility" of the ratings system:
Most interestingly, the ESRB has announced, with the support of its Board of Directors, a request that all game publishers complete a comprehensive review of all games launched since September 1, 2004. This internal publisher-run audit is intended to determine if non-playable, pertinent content, not previously disclosed to the ESRB, remains in the final code on the discs released to the public.

Publishers must inform the ESRB of any possible issues regarding hidden content by January 9, 2006, and the ratings board may re-rate titles if any of this content changes the potential rating for the game.

The email then specifies: "If you fail to notify us of previously undisclosed, non-playable, pertinent content by January 9, and such content becomes playable through a subsequent authorized or unauthorized release of code to unlock it, rendering the original rating assignment inaccurate, punitive in addition to corrective actions may result." It is as yet unclear exactly what punitive actions the ESRB may sanction, or is capable of carrying out.

Finally, the ESRB addresses third-party 'mod' content which could potentially change the game's suitability, but was not inserted by the game's developer, commenting: "ESRB remains concerned about third party modifications that undermine the accuracy of the original rating, and we are exploring ways to maintain the credibility of the rating system with consumers in light of modifications of this nature."
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1.
 
No subject
Sep 12, 2005, 21:48
1.
No subject Sep 12, 2005, 21:48
Sep 12, 2005, 21:48
 
I smell a standard disclosure coming... much like the way they say "Game exp. may change during online play"

they should just put "game exp. may change due to 3rd party modifications" on there as well

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2.
 
No subject
Sep 12, 2005, 21:49
2.
No subject Sep 12, 2005, 21:49
Sep 12, 2005, 21:49
 
Understandable, a message to developers in light of "Hot Coffee", but this thing about third-party mods is ridiculous.

It stands to reason that if you downloaded a mod you understand its not part of the original game and as such does not reflect the ratings of said game.

The same can be said of any product, modification outside the original intents and purpose of the product can not be held against the developers of it, how anyone could even begin to think that it does baffles me.

3.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 12, 2005, 21:54
3.
Re: No subject Sep 12, 2005, 21:54
Sep 12, 2005, 21:54
 
They should just do what they do with games that can played online, which is add a little tag to the rating that says that the rating might not apply to online play.

"Game experience may change with 3rd-Party modifications"

Problem solved.

On WoW - Sixis - 60 Paladin of Azure Brigade (Garona)
4.
 
No subject
Sep 12, 2005, 21:57
4.
No subject Sep 12, 2005, 21:57
Sep 12, 2005, 21:57
 
wonderful idea, Sixis - where did you get that from?



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5.
 
3rd party mods
Sep 12, 2005, 22:00
5.
3rd party mods Sep 12, 2005, 22:00
Sep 12, 2005, 22:00
 
"ESRB remains concerned about third party modifications that undermine the accuracy of the original rating, and we are exploring ways to maintain the credibility of the rating system with consumers in light of modifications of this nature."

So, if I walked into the Louvre and glued a page from a porn magazine to the Mona Lisa, would this make the Mona Lisa pornography? What did that old perv Da Vinci think? Won't somebody please think about the children!?

No, serious. Unless they find a capable fortuneteller they will never be able to accurately rate content that doesn't exist at the time of rating.

The quoted statement just defies logic.

6.
 
Re: 3rd party mods
Sep 12, 2005, 22:13
6.
Re: 3rd party mods Sep 12, 2005, 22:13
Sep 12, 2005, 22:13
 
They can't possibly try to control 3rd party mods. The best they could do is pressure developers to make it as hard to possible to make mods, which would suck. I wonder how they plan to control downloadable, online-distributed titles ...

7.
 
cowards
Sep 12, 2005, 22:23
7.
cowards Sep 12, 2005, 22:23
Sep 12, 2005, 22:23
 
Seems like the ESRB is willing to sell out its representation of the games industry to the politicians and lawyers. Instead of standing up for developer and publishers' rights and reasonable expectations they only want to cover their asses. The idea that developers and publishers can or should be responsible for what people do to a game after buying it (or stealing it for that matter) is not just ridiculous, it is chilling. Given that lawyers will seek to minimize legal exposure (which the ESRB seems to want to increase for everyone), we could see some very negative things happen to interactive entertainment and freedom of expression.

I'd like to see the industry fight the ESRB on this instead of cedeing them effective censorship authority like the MPAA. The fact that stores won't tolerate A titles already is bad enough. Will we soon have an underground game scene like there is for films?

8.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 12, 2005, 23:11
8.
Re: No subject Sep 12, 2005, 23:11
Sep 12, 2005, 23:11
 
I demand the ESRB shut the hell up.
9.
 
...
Sep 12, 2005, 23:59
9.
... Sep 12, 2005, 23:59
Sep 12, 2005, 23:59
 
People put up with these fascists why?

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10.
 
asdf
Sep 13, 2005, 00:02
10.
asdf Sep 13, 2005, 00:02
Sep 13, 2005, 00:02
 
i agree with you sixis, but the fact is that now that this has become an issue with the public at large, now that public figures like hilary rodham clinton have decided to exploit the existence of inconsequential (but 'offensive') game mods for political gain, the esrb is backed into a corner. they have to defend themselves.

i just don't know if they would feel that something like that would placate the angry community of irresponsible parents and opportunistic politicians.

i honestly don't know what else they can do, however, since pretty much every moddable game is suspect in the eyes of idiots.

11.
 
No subject
Sep 13, 2005, 00:09
11.
No subject Sep 13, 2005, 00:09
Sep 13, 2005, 00:09
 
What next?

Is the ESRB Going to rate the patches - so patch 1.04 is rated R becuase it has "some" content, while patch 1.06 brings the rating back down to a PG, or T rating (for those in the USA)

I am also wating on the day that the ESRB Will want to chocke mod teams, and indy devs - that day the gameing world "should" revolt!

12.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 13, 2005, 00:13
12.
Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 00:13
Sep 13, 2005, 00:13
 
This is insane. The ESRB needs to slap Take-Two around for leaving in content and not informing them, but this is just pandering to phony idiots like Clinton. If they choke off the ability to mod games, the industry might as well just kiss what little is left of PC gaming goodbye. They should be telling Clinton to sit down and shut up.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Canada
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13.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 13, 2005, 00:20
Prez
 
13.
Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 00:20
Sep 13, 2005, 00:20
 Prez
 
Usually audits only serve to keep honest people honest. I see no harm here, especially if it helps fend off more stupid legislation.

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14.
 
Re: 3rd party mods
Sep 13, 2005, 00:21
14.
Re: 3rd party mods Sep 13, 2005, 00:21
Sep 13, 2005, 00:21
 
I'm pretty certain that including "ESRB" and "credibility" in the same sentence constitutes an oxymoron.

15.
 
Re: ...
Sep 13, 2005, 00:58
15.
Re: ... Sep 13, 2005, 00:58
Sep 13, 2005, 00:58
 
"People put up with these fascists why?"

Because a scary number of people think they are right.


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16.
 
Re: ...
Sep 13, 2005, 01:18
16.
Re: ... Sep 13, 2005, 01:18
Sep 13, 2005, 01:18
 
Thank you Rockstar for fucking it up for the rest of up!

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17.
 
Re: ...
Sep 13, 2005, 01:21
17.
Re: ... Sep 13, 2005, 01:21
Sep 13, 2005, 01:21
 
In truth, if not Rockstar, someone else would have made this happen eventually, but yeah I think that at the next E3, a lot of staffers from other publishers will be spitting on their booth. If they had just told the ESRB about the Hot Coffee content that they left in the game, this could have been a lot different.

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Ottawa, Canada
www.pxa.ca
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Avatar 13614
18.
 
No subject
Sep 13, 2005, 01:28
18.
No subject Sep 13, 2005, 01:28
Sep 13, 2005, 01:28
 
A mass knee-jerk reaction is nothing to be proud of, boys. Don't get your panties in the bunch. Read the ESRB letter carefully.

Nobody's trying to mess with 3rd party mods. ESRB is concerned with developer created content. They are trying to make sure that everything the developers put on the disk, ESRB is aware of. That's it.

19.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 13, 2005, 01:36
Duc
19.
Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 01:36
Sep 13, 2005, 01:36
Duc
 
Ultimately the release is still bullshit, here is an idea - how about parents take some fucking responsibility and keep an eye on what their kid plays? However it would be nice to read the whole release rather than some random excerpts, after all there is no way a bunch of online journalists would quote something out of context just to whip up a storm right ? :-)

Duc - Rated R because my third party produced zipper allows me to take off my pants in public & expecting a call from Rays lawyers any second

20.
 
Re: cowards
Sep 13, 2005, 02:31
20.
Re: cowards Sep 13, 2005, 02:31
Sep 13, 2005, 02:31
 
I'd like to see the industry fight the ESRB on this instead of cedeing them effective censorship authority like the MPAA. The fact that stores won't tolerate A titles already is bad enough. Will we soon have an underground game scene like there is for films?

Let's say that ESRB fights for it. "We'll put whatever we want in the games and to hell with you!" The government then would say, "ok, you're out of the picture." The ESRB is removed and we'd get a government agency that says "yeah, um... about the violence. We're afraid you can't sell that... at all".

The ESRB has been and is good. They're going after this issue because it was content left in the game (albeit nonaccessable) because it makes their rulings have less value, and because they want to stay in the picture and not have government censorship.


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