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ZippyDSMlee
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ESRB Now Monitoring Game Trailers

In a significant move that would seem to indicate that the Entertainment Software Rating Board is now rating publishers' trailers for video games, GameDaily BIZ received warnings from two separate companies today stating that their trailers were found to be inappropriate. [Update: ESRB's Pat Vance responds]

In a sign that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is now carefully monitoring not just video games, but also game trailers, GameDaily BIZ this afternoon received correspondence from two different companies warning about the appropriateness of their respective game trailers.

A representative for D3Publisher of America wrote to us concerning footage for the game Dark Sector. "We recently received a ruling from the ESRB stating that the two officially released Dark Sector gameplay montages have been deemed to contain excessive or offensive content; and to this end are not to be available for download or viewing, regardless of being placed behind an age gate," said the rep. "In order to comply with this ruling, the ESRB has requested that the two Dark Sector gameplay montages be pulled immediately upon receipt of this notice and no longer made available for view by consumers."

Interestingly, D3Publisher insisted that this ruling by the ESRB concerning the trailer's content does not affect the game's actual final rating. "Please be assured that this in no way effects [sic] the final gameplay content of Dark Sector, or your ability to capture direct feed footage for distribution on your site."

Only about a half-hour later, we also received an e-mail from a 2K Games spokesperson concerning the game The Darkness. 2K Games warned us, "The ESRB requires that all trailers for Mature ('M') and Adults Only ('AO') rated games be appropriately age-gated. Game publishers that do not comply with the age gate requirement are subject to enforcement actions by the ESRB."

What "enforcement actions" publishers could be subject to is currently not known.

For websites that cannot implement an age gate, 2K is providing edited versions of the trailer.

All of this has apparently been spurred on by the ESRB urging publishers to follow the best practices for limiting access of inappropriate content to children, or more specifically, the ESRB would like publishers to consult the guidelines for implementing the Age Screen Rule (ASR). The ASR is based on best practices recommended by the Federal Trade Commission in the context of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

As of press time, the ESRB has not responded to our inquiries.

[UPDATE] The ESRB has now responded, letting us know that these "new" guidelines aren't really new at all. They've been around since 2005. That said, on our end it certainly would seem to mark an increased level of enforcement by the ESRB, as we've not been notified many times in the past (if at all) by publishers concerning their trailers.

Here is the complete statement from ESRB President Patricia Vance:

"The ESRB's Advertising Review Council (ARC) regularly monitors game ads and trailers to make sure that they adhere to industry-adopted Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices ([url]http://www.esrb.org/ratings/principles_guidlines.jsp)[/url], which were established in 2000. Since 2005, ARC guidelines have required that trailers for M-rated games on publisher websites be displayed behind an age gate to help restrict viewing to those visitors who are 17 and older. Game publishers are also required to use best efforts with respect to ensuring the presence of age gates on third party websites that display their M-rated game trailers. If a third party site insists on carrying a trailer for an M-rated game without placing it behind an age gate, our guidelines require the publisher to request that such trailer be removed and/or provide an edited version of the trailer to be used in its place.

"However, the mere presence of an age gate does not permit a publisher to simply put whatever content it wishes into the trailer. All trailers must still conform to ARC's Principles and Guidelines, which prohibit the display of excessively violent content or any content likely to cause serious offense to the average consumer. When ESRB notifies a publisher that the content in a trailer is in violation of these ARC requirements, or that there is an age gate issue on a third party site, that publisher then must notify third party sites to rectify the problem. The notices issued recently by game publishers to third party websites are simply that - steps in a chain of publisher compliance with ARC guidelines and the ESRB enforcement system that have been occurring since their establishment seven years ago."

[url]http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=16615[/url]

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[url]http://www.joystiq.com/2007/06/25/esrb-seeks-to-rate-game-trailers/[/url]
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Unnecessary? busybody trolling? Normal evolution?

__________________

Ah modern gaming its like modern film only the watering down of fiction and characters is replaced with shallow and watered down mechanics, gimmicks and shiny-er "people".
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Incoherence is my friend and grammar my bane, which is the fulcrum of suffering I place upon others!:ZippyDSMlee
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