[casual_games] If Vista is going to be such a problem...
natsuume at boomzap.com
Fri Dec 22 00:48:35 EST 2006
The idea that a that the ESRB can just let a dev use the same rating for
all their games is absurd.
You misunderstand me.
I am wondering what if they could get someone on site who was ESRB
Certified who could assign ratings based on some kind of ESRB training?
Thus, a portal could get a ESRB Certified QA Department which means that
there is someone internally who could conditionally rate the games based on
some kind of spreadsheet or checklist. Then, they could submit this to the
ESRB with the appropriate form, and the ESRB could take it on faith that
they had done their job. If they fail to abide by the rules of the ESRB in
the ratings, then they lose their certification and get fined. The ESRB
still rates the games but it is through a highly streamlined and
discounted process if they have already been checked by an ESRB certified
I know that sounds like a stretch, but there are a dozen examples of other
kinds of certifications that follow a similar model such as public
notaries, or any of a number of accounting or legal functions. In fact, this
is the basic model the US tax system and the US GAAP Accounting works under
both of which have a much more serious social and economic impact than
video game ratings.
I mean I can only imagine that the ESRB doesnt WANT to be flooded with
every last Bejeweled clone made by a couple of guys in Cincinnati, even if
they could afford it they simply dont have the bandwidth to check all of
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org]
On Behalf Of Robert Headley
Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2006 9:32 PM
To: IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List
Subject: Re: [casual_games] If Vista is going to be such a problem...
The idea that a that the ESRB can just let a dev use the same rating for all
their games is absurd. The ESRB is required to play through all the games
that they rate, thanks to the hot coffee incident. $400 would be relatively
affordable, at least once a few hundred copies of any game are sold.
On 12/21/06, Thomas H. Buscaglia <thb at gameattorney.com> wrote:
Brian R. just sent the schedule for ESRB rating to the IGDA board and for
downloadable console games is only $400. The IGDA is in the process of
contacting the ESRB to see if they can apply that same rates to downloadable
casual games (or whatever they are called!) since right now, classed as PC
games, they are at the $2,500 level.
So, I have read all of the posts, and the thing I can't get past is: how is
it that MSFT is proposing to maintain the current great push for independent
content when the base cost for ESRB rating is $2-3,000. I mean, that is like
the complete art budget (or more) for a lot of startup independent game
developers. Or to put in perspective, assuming they are shipping on the
major portals, and getting a very optimistic 1/2 the $20 revenue, it's the
first 300+ units sold, just to pay for the ratings. That's a barrier to
entry that is going to slice out the entire lower end of the market.
And I cannot buy "well - sell to people who don't turn on the parental
controls" response. That may work for games that target the hardcore users
who will defiantly leave the nanny-locks off, but our core users -
grandmothers, soccer moms and parents - are the *definition* of the people
who would be using these controls.
All nitpicking and complaining about monopolies aside, I think we can all
safely assume that casual games that do not show up on the Games Explorer
window with the highest levels of parental controls turned on are at a steep
disadvantage to those that do. I suggest that the most productive place to
take this discussion is to start there and try to sort out how even a
startup garage developer on a hobby budget could make that happen with his
For instance, is it possible that the ESRB could give some sort of breaks to
the portals, at the very least? Aggregators like Big Fish and Oberon put up
dozens and dozens of games a month, and have a vested interest in keeping
their products clean and safe for their core audience. Maybe they could have
the power to push through "bundle charges" for ratings or even assign
ratings, since it should be trivially easy for the ESRB to safely hand out E
ratings for just about everything on these portals...? Then the developers
could take those ratings and use them for all builds of the game? It
certainly would make a great "value add" for a distribution deal with a
Or is it possible that casual game developers could get a "minigame" ESRB
ratings package, which is substantially cheaper, based on he volume of
content required to check? I mean, you should be able to look at Diner Dash
or Bejeweled for like 2 minutes to see that this is safe content, no? Why
should they be charged the same price for evaluation as games like Far Cry
or Gears of War - which must take days and days to look through the content?
These - or better ideas - are certainly in the real of something the IGDA
could help with, no?
Also - as a side question - how does the ESRB deal with rating products like
MMORPGS, where there is a great deal of user-entered data? There is nothing
protecting little Timmy from seeing naughty words there in chatting
environments, or seeing an orc-player hump a dead body... Not to mention
products like Second Life, where whole sections of the game are
user-built-content? Even something as simple as the online highscore table
in our game Magic Lanterns can (and has) been used by some users to post
sexually and racially insensitive words... How is that rated by the ESRB? I
am sure everyone else here knows the answer to that question - I just don't.
Real Fun. Right Now.
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