Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A study claims ESRB ratings system better than most

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government, has released a study on entertainment ratings systems in the United States.

CEI being a pro free markets and against big government type of an organization obviously has an agenda to promote market driven approaches against those provided by the Government, but the study is still an interesting look into the ratings systems used to rate entertainment products in the United States. Of particular interest to The Pixelantes is the study's conclusions about the effectiveness of ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rates video games.

The study documents the evolution of the ratings systems for movies, comic books, music, television, radio and video games. It studies their effectiveness and usefullness and finally tries to draw conclusions on how a good ratings system should operate.

The study's conclusion is that the ESRB system works better than others. The study states:

The ESRB system is by far the most descriptive and comprehensive ratings system for any medium today. Indeed, it is one of the few that contains all relevant information on the products themselves.

The study also lists what they think are best practises for ratings systems:

...the best rating systems have three attributes: They attempt to describe, rather than prescribe, what entertainment media should contain; they are particularly suited to their particular media forms; and they were created with little or no direct input from government.

The study finishes by underlying that ratings systems are mere tools and should never replace good parenting:

Well thought-out ratings systems, particularly those shaped through market forces rather than government mandates, can prove a valuable tool for parents, but they are just that—tools. No ratings system can replace good parenting.

We couldn't agree more.

The study is available as an PDF download.

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