We’ve all seen them before; those lettered icons stamped ominously and clearly on the boxes of our favorite app and game titles. And if you’re like us here at Disrupted Logic‘s ctalyst, you’ve probably wondered what they all mean and why they’re important to your apps and games.
Ratings are designed as indicators of the content, appropriateness and overall experience offered by an app or game, and serve to help gamers and parents make choices about what they’re downloading and playing.
Every app and game published on iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon Apps Store are required to have a rating. For the most part, developers self-regulate and agree to adhere to specific guidelines as set out by the various Ratings Agencies.
Please note that while we attempt to maintain information that is current and up to date, the 3rd parties described here may change their policies and programs at any time and without notice. Please be sure to follow the links for further and up-to-date information.
ESRB Ratings – Entertainment Software Rating Board
From the ESRB website:
“The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices. The ESRB rating system encompasses guidance about age-appropriateness, content, and interactive elements. As part of its self-regulatory role for the video game
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices. The ESRB rating system encompasses guidance about age-appropriateness, content, and interactive elements. As part of its self-regulatory role for the video game industry the ESRB also enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible web and mobile privacy practices under its Privacy Certified program. ESRB was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).”
The mission of the ESRB is to empower both parents and consumers to make informed decision about the suitability and appropriateness of Apps and Games through their voluntary ratings systems.
The ESRB’s App and Game Ratings are found on software boxes, images, and icons. The ESRB has guidelines and rules for developers to follow. These guidelines help ensure consumers will understand the ratings.
The eC (Early Childhood) icon indicates that the App or Game is safe for young children. The target audience is young children.
The E (Everyone) icon indicates that the App or Game is safe for all audiences. The ESRB does warn that some content may include mild cartoon or fantasy violence or mild language that may be offensive to some.
The E10+ (Everyone 10+) icon indicates that the App or Game is safe for audiences of the age 10 or older. These Apps or Games may also include mild cartoon or fantasy violence, mild language, or suggestive themes that may be offensive to some.
Apps or Games with the T (Teen) ratings may contain violence, language, themes, crude humor, blood, or gambling that is inappropriate for audiences under the age of 13.
Apps or Games with the M (Mature 17+) are intended for a more mature audience aged 17 or older. These Apps or Games typically contain intense violence, sexual content and themes, blood and gore, and offensive language.
Apps or Games with the Ao (Adults Only) ratings usually contain gambling with real money. Adult Only Apps and Games may include graphic sexual content and themes, intense or over the top violence. Adult Only content is appropriate for adults aged 18 or older.
The RP (Rating Pending) icon appears in Apps, Games or advertising, marketing and promotional materials that are going to have a rating but the ratings have not yet been assigned.
ESRB Content Descriptors
ESRB Content Descriptors:
- Alcohol Reference: Reference to and or images of alcoholic beverages
- Animated Blood: Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
- Blood: Depictions of blood
- Blood and Gore: Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
- Cartoon Violence: Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
- Comic Mischief: Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
- Crude Humor: Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor
- Drug Reference: Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
- Fantasy Violence: Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
- Intense Violence: Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
- Language: Mild to moderate use of profanity
- Lyrics: Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Mature Humor: Depictions or dialogue involving “adult” humor, including sexual references
- Nudity: Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
- Partial Nudity: Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
- Real Gambling: Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Sexual Content: Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
- Sexual Themes: References to sex or sexuality
- Sexual Violence: Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
- Simulated Gambling: Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
- Strong Language: Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
- Strong Lyrics: Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
- Strong Sexual Content: Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity
- Suggestive Themes: Mild provocative references or materials
- Tobacco Reference: Reference to and/or images of tobacco products
- Use of Alcohol: The consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Use of Drugs: The consumption or use of illegal drugs
- Use of Tobacco: The consumption of tobacco products
- Violence: Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
- Violent References: References to violent acts
Shares Info: Indicates that personal information provided by the user (e.g., e-mail address, phone number, credit card info, etc.) is shared with third parties
Shares Location: Includes the ability to display the user’s location to other users of the app
Users Interact: Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks
Digital Purchases: Enables purchases of digital goods completed directly from within the app (e.g., purchases of additional game content, levels, downloadable music, etc.)
Unrestricted Internet: Product provides access to the internet
PEGI – Pan European Game Information
From the PEGI website:
“The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system was established to help European parents make informed decisions on buying computer games. It was launched in spring 2003 and replaced a number of national age rating systems with a single system now used throughout most of Europe, in 30 countries (Austria Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia, Belgium, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, Cyprus, France, Israel, Malta, Romania, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom)
PEGI is used and recognised throughout Europe and has the enthusiastic support of the European Commission. It is considered to be a model of European harmonisation in the field of the protection of children.”
The PEGI App and Game Ratings are visible on software boxes, images, and icons. PEGI has guidelines and rules for developers to follow. These guidelines help ensure consumers will understand the ratings.
Detailed information about PEGI and PEGI App and Game Ratings is available on the PEGI website at www.pegi.info
The PEGI 3 icon indicates the apps or games are suitable for all ages from 3 and above. Some content may contain cartoon violence but not in a manner that a child could associate with real life. PEGI 3 content does not have sounds or pictures that will frighten children, nor offensive language.
The PEGI 7 rating is a more restricted version of the PEGI 3 rating. PEGI 7 includes Apps or Games which contain scenes or sounds that may frighten younger children.
The PEGI 12 rating applies to Apps or Games which contain scenes of violence toward humanoids or animals, sexuality, or mildly offensive language.
The PEGI 16 rating applies to Apps or Games which depict violence in a realistic manner. PEGI 16 content contains offensive language, possible use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and the depiction of criminal acts.
The PEGI 18 is a ratings classification for Apps or Games which depict violence or sexuality in a manner that is considered extreme and repulsive.
The PEGI OK rating is for Apps or Games which contain nothing that leads to a higher score than PEGI 3. Developers are required to provide a declaration to PEGI that their content does not include violence, sexual activity or innuendo, nudity, bad language, gambling, the use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco, or scary scenes.
PEGI Content Descriptors
PEGI Content Descriptors
The App or Game contains bad or offensive language
The App or Game contains matter which may encourage discrimination
The App or Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs
The App or Game contains images or sounds that may scare young children
The App or Game encourages or teaches gambling
The App or Game depicts nudity, sexuality or sexual references
The App or Game depicts violence
The App or Game can be played online
IARC – International Age Rating Coalition
From the IARC website:
“A ground-breaking global rating and age classification system for digitally delivered games and apps that reflects the unique cultural differences among nations and regions.
Administered by many of the world’s game rating authorities, the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) provides a globally streamlined age classification process for digital games and mobile apps, helping to ensure that today’s digital consumers have consistent access to established and trusted age ratings across game devices. Established in 2013, IARC simplifies the process by which developers obtain age ratings from different regions around the world by reducing it to a single set of questions about their products’ content and interactive elements. The questionnaire is programmed with unique algorithms that generate ratings reflecting each participating rating authority’s distinct standards, along with a generic rating for the rest of the world. IARC rating assignments also include content descriptors and interactive elements identifying apps that collect and share location or personal information, enable user interaction, share user-generated content, and/or offer in-app digital purchases. The IARC system currently includes rating authorities which collectively represent regions serving approximately 1.5 billion people, with more expected to participate in the future.”
IARC is unique in that developers complete a questionnaire about their App or Game and submit it to a participating storefront. The survey includes information like sharing, location, UGC and in-app purchases.
IARC uses this information to calculate and assign a rating that is appropriate to the particular world region the content is being downloaded, viewed or played.
Because IARC utilizes automation algorithms to calculate App or Game ratings, IARC ratings are applied only to digitally distributed apps and games.
At Disrupted Logic and ctalyst, we deeply respect the content rating systems and we encourage our publishers, developers, and advertisers to adhere to the policies and guidelines to help protect children around the world and to ensure a rich and rewarding entertainment experience for everyone.