Letters like E, T and M were not enough.
Descriptors like "blood," "strong sexual themes" and "tobacco references" did not suffice.
So today, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, with the support of some powerful former foes, has announced that all games rated by the ESRB since July 1 will now also be issued a "rating summary," accessible on the ESRB's website.
From the ESRB's press release, here's occasional gaming violence critic Senator Hillary Clinton being positive: "This new supplement to the ratings is a real gift for parents as we head into this holiday season. Parents need all the information they can get to make more informed decisions about what’s appropriate for their children. These new rating summaries offer more helpful information than ever before to help parents to get involved and get informed."
But are these summaries just good for parents? Let's say you were on the fence about whether "Fable II" is the right game for you. Would the following colorful summary sway you?
Rating summary: Fable II is a role-playing adventure game in which players assume the role of a 10-year old orphan who grows into adulthood amidst the fantasy world setting of Albion. Players engage in a variety of quests to gain experience and skills with which to 'level up' their customized character. Quest objectives sometimes involve using magic and hand-to-hand combat to defeat various creatures and enemy soldiers. Blood spray is depicted when enemies are slashed or injured during combat. Players can also gains 'points' and positive statistics for choosing good deeds over bad ones (e.g., "Good points," "Renown points," and a "Good Reputation") or based on the way they communicate with other characters: Lewd gestures/language such as hip thrusts and raising of the middle finger generate negative responses; flirting and blowing a kiss can garner positive responses from characters. With enough positive affinity, players can engage in sexual relations with males, females, or groups of characters. Players are rewarded for having multiple relations, and can choose to have unprotected sex, although sexual acts are never shown. Several characters are depicted drunk during cutscenes, while players can also consume beer and wine from various taverns. A screen-blurring effect connotes a character's drunken state.
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