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ezacharyk's picture
Joined: 2007-04-23

Gamasutra has an [URL=http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1970/this_game_is_not_yet_rated_inside_.php]interview with Patricia Vance[/URL] on the rating process.

This is a very great interview. Some good questions and answers:

[QUOTE][B]The raters for a game collaboratively determine a proposed rating and set of descriptors. Tell us about how that process has generally worked. Is it typical that raters have the same rating in mind when they get together to discuss a game they're reviewing?[/B]

PV: At each scheduled rating session, raters will watch the DVD or videotape together and then each writes down the rating he or she believes to be appropriate, before any discussion takes place. Each will then disclose his or her rating to the group, and discussion will ensue. After discussion, each rater indicates his or her final rating recommendation. As I'm sure you would expect, some games are very easy to agree upon. For example, you typically won't find much disagreement about an E-rated puzzle game. There are, however, inevitably going to be some titles that are "borderline" between two rating categories, and these generate more discussion and require greater deliberation on the part of the raters.

Truth be told, though, I'm just not privy to the conversations that take place when the raters are doing their job. We take the integrity of the process extremely seriously, and nobody else is present in the viewing room when raters are reviewing and discussing content.

[B]Could you give us an example of a game whose rating process brought up particularly thorny issues, perhaps with both its rating and with its descriptors (which depend on the choice of rating). If you can't name a specific game, perhaps details about an example where raters had to work especially hard to arrive at a final rating and set of descriptors? What were the issues involved and how were the questions resolved?[/B]

PV: I can't speak to the rating process for any one game, but generally speaking, things like language -- bathroom humor, plays on words, slang -- fictitious or non-descript substances, or use of religious imagery can often be tricky. The presence of sensitive social issues in games, like sexual or racial stereotyping for example, have also led to internal debate about how best to address them from a ratings standpoint.

Though it might surprise people to hear it, low-level or cartoon violence actually tends to be something that receives a lot of thought and discussion. Take for instance an animated character that smacks another over the head with a frying pan. Is that Comic Mischief or Mild Cartoon Violence? To a degree, that's going to depend a lot on the depiction itself. What happened to the character when he got hit? How malicious or realistic was the violent act? How often does it occur? Context is also a consideration. What prompted the action? Is it player-controlled, or is it in a cut-scene?

Then, of course, the rating category figures in since the descriptors are applied relative to the rating assigned. Is this kind of content justification for assigning an E10+ or even a T, or is it still within an acceptable range for an E-rated game? The process we have in place and the people that are involved in it are extremely thoughtful about these kinds of things. [/QUOTE]


Jack Thompson wrote:
Only a seriously sick or disturbed or mean person would do a countdown to Jack Thompson's disbarment.
Orson Scott Card wrote:
Me, I prefer democracy - even if it means letting dumb people like me have our say - and our votes. Studies have shown that when you let dumb people vote, it works out way better than letting experts make all the political decisions.
Divine Knight Gaming

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