Video Games: What the ESRB Rating Means

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When you're shopping for video games, you might wonder what those little monogram squares are on the front of the game case. Well, just like the Motion Pictures Association of America, which assigns ratings to movies based on their content, there is an organization that does the same thing for video games. The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, assigns a rating to all video games to give you a heads up on which ages are best suited for the games. Many parents worry about their children playing games that involve realistic sexual or violent situations, and the ESRB is there to help you understand the contents of today's offerings. On the cover of the game, you'll see the ratings symbol. These can be labeled EC, suitable for early childhood and ages 3 and up; E, suitable for ages 6 and up, and may contain mild violence, cartoons or fantasy action; E10+ games are suitable for ages 10 and up, and may include mildly suggestive themes or mild language; titles rated T are for teens and could include violence, gambling, crude humor and minimal blood; games rated M are for mature audiences that can handle violence, blood, gore, sexual content and/or strong language; AO games are for adults only and can contain graphic sex and violence.