With the holiday shopping season underway, the survey was conducted by The Harrison Group to help determine the awareness and influence of the ESRB rating system among videogamers and their parents.
Among the key findings:
- Eighty-four percent of parents said they are very familiar with the ESRB ratings system, compared to 65 percent of children ages 8-17 who indicated the same.
- Nearly eighty percent of parents (79%) revealed that they pay close attention to the ESRB ratings on videogames, especially those parents with children ages 8-12 (89%).
- More than two thirds of parents (68%) believe the ESRB ratings system is effective in helping them determine whether a specific game is appropriate for their child.
- A majority of parents (56%) cited a game's ESRB rating as their top purchase influencer when considering whether to buy a videogame for their children, more than any other factor.
- Parents said they actively research over half (52%) of all videogames prior to approving purchase for their children - including reading game reviews/previews or visiting gaming websites.
The study also showed that a strong majority (74%) of parents feel that videogames are part of their family's life and that they are very comfortable with this. In fact, 58 percent of parents surveyed said they play videogames themselves, and among those players, 52 percent of their videogame playing time is spent with their children. Moreover, even when playing videogames by themselves, half of that time (49%) is spent playing their children's games.
"We were delighted to learn that parents and their children are very familiar with the ESRB ratings system, but it was even more gratifying to see that such a large majority of parents are aware of, researching and active in their children's videogame purchasing and playing," said Robin Kaminsky, EVP of Publishing for Activision. "Activision strongly supports the ESRB rating system, which we believe is the most comprehensive tool parents can use to determine which games are appropriate for their children. Looking ahead, these results will help strengthen our efforts to raise greater awareness among both parents and young people of why 'Ratings Are Not a Game.'"
"Video game ratings can only be effective if consumers understand the ratings and use them when making purchasing decisions for their families, and this study shows that parents greatly rely on and value the ESRB ratings in helping them decide which games to allow their children to play," said Patricia Vance, ESRB President. "The ESRB commends Activision on its 'Ratings Are Not a Game' educational initiative and its outstanding efforts to educate consumers about video game ratings."
The Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that independently assigns ratings, enforces advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.
ESRB ratings are designed to provide information about videogame content to help consumers determine a game's suitability and to aid parents in making informed purchasing decisions. ESRB raters rate games part-time, are selected from a broad and diverse pool of adult applicants, tend to have experience with children, and are screened to ensure they have no ties with or connection to the video game industry.
ESRB ratings, which are found directly on the front and back of a game's packaging, have two equal parts. Six main rating categories suggest age appropriateness for a game, while content descriptors indicate a range of over 30 different potential elements that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern, such as violence, sex, humor, language and the use or depiction of controlled substances.
Content ratings also take into consideration how these elements are depicted, in addition to their frequency, intensity and context. Due to the unique interactive characteristics of videogames, the ESRB rating system also takes into account elements such as the reward system and the degree of player control, both of which can affect which rating category and content descriptors are ultimately assigned to the game.