While the corrosive effects of videogame violence are often overstated, the idea of informing parents about game content so that they can make decisions about what their children are playing isn't a bad idea. That's what the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) is supposed to do. Unfortunately, in its strategy of placing a movie-like rating on each game, the group fails in its objective to provide meaningful information. And although the board tries hard to identify the subtleties between different kinds of violence (even different kinds of blood) it offers little to go on in terms of knowing the content of a game. But isn't a group like the ESRB destined to fail from its outset? Its sister organization, the MPAA, doesn't have a great track record with its system. Why not leave the job up to consumer publications to inform parents? Some will say that this is unsatisfactory, since parents won't find the information. But if a parent won't put in the effort to seek it out, then they probably won't care too much about a game's ESRB rating. Or here's a better idea. Why doesn't the parent just watch their child play the game for a few minutes. If they don't like it, they can return it or sell it on eBay. And if you're not convinced that ratings systems and measures of violence are no substitute for actually seeing the game, remember that in one study, even Pac-Man was deemed to be a violent game.
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