Game ratings system adds category

ESRB's new "E10+" rating will reside on the scale between "E" for all ages, and "T," meaning a game is suitable for teenagers.

The video game ratings system will add a new category to protect children under 10 from seeing certain kinds of violence, the board that administers the system said on Wednesday.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board said "E10+" would mark games that might contain "moderate amounts of cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes."

The E10+ rating will reside on the scale between "E," meaning a game is appropriate for all ages, and "T," meaning a game is suitable for teenagers. The ratings system also includes "M" ratings for those over 17 and the rarely used "AO" for adult-only audiences.

The ESRB said it expects that most top sports, racing and adventure games would continue to take an E rating, while racing games with graphic crashes and fighting games with superheroes would likely take an E10+.

The ESRB rates virtually every game released in the United States. Its system has been praised by the federal government as one of the most effective in the media industry.

Still, the issue of violence in games has increasingly become a political football, with lawmakers and advocacy groups arguing that the government must protect children if the game industry can't or won't.

Legislatures in at least six states are considering new proposals that would make it a crime to sell mature games to children, despite the failure of previous legislation to pass judicial scrutiny.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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