The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system has three parts:
Rating Categories - found on the front and back of game boxes
Content Descriptors - included with the rating category on the back of game boxes
Interactive Elements - which are on the back of game boxes and on game item pages in Microsoft's Xbox Store, Nintendo eShop, the PlayStation Store and other digital marketplaces from which games can be downloaded directly to a console or other gaming devices.
To take full advantage of this system, it's important to become familiar with each part, especially when purchasing games for children. As a supplementary source of information for physical (e.g., boxed) video games, ESRB provides rating summaries that give parents a detailed description of the content in a game. Although they don't appear on game packages, rating summaries can be accessed via the rating search on esrb.org and the ESRB rating search app.
ESRB Symbols | ESRB Descriptors | Interactive Elements
Going Beyond the Ratings
To further evaluate a game, you can review the overall description including features, screen shots, and cover art. And since most of our GameStop employees are avid gamers, we also encourage you to ask them for advice.
The Internet is a powerful resource to search for reviews and other information on a particular game. In fact, you can easily search games by title, rating, platform, and more at GameStop.com or ESRB.org.
GameStop/EB Games Rating Policy
All GameStop employees enforce our store policy with respect to games rated M (Mature) by the ESRB. We DO NOT sell, reserve, or offer games rated Mature to customers under 17 years of age. When a game rated Mature is scanned, an ESRB advisory appears on the register screen requiring employees to ask any under-age customer for a valid photo ID, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Found on the front the box, the ESRB rating symbol helps you quickly identify if the game is age-appropriate.
Download a convenient PDF of the ESRB ratings
(Requires Adobe PDF Reader)
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Content suitable only for adults ages 18 and up. May include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.
Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a physical (e.g., boxed) video game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
NOTE: Rating Category assignments can also be based upon a game or app's minimum age requirement.
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.
Mild Violence - Mild scenes depicting characters in unsafe and/or violent situations.
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 - Graphic references to and/or 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.
NOTE: Content Descriptors are applied relative to the Rating Category assigned and are not intended to be a complete listing of content. When a Content Descriptor is preceded by the term "Mild" it is intended to convey low frequency, intensity or severity.
In-Game Purchases - Contains in-game offers to purchase digital goods or premiums with real world currency, including but not limited to bonus levels, skins, surprise items (such as item packs, loot boxes, mystery awards), music, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency, subscriptions, season passes and upgrades (e.g., to disable ads)
Users Interact - Indicates possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user communications and media sharing via social media and networks
Shares Location - Includes the ability to display the user's location to other users of the app
Unrestricted Internet - Provides unrestricted access to the internet (e.g., browser, search engine)
NOTE: : When assigned to physical (e.g., boxed) video games, the In-Game Purchases and/or Users Interact interactive elements appear on the back of game packages below the content descriptor box as shown below. Shares Location and Unrestricted Internet are assigned to digitally delivered games and apps.
"Online Music Not Rated by the ESRB" - Warns that songs that are streamed or downloaded as add-ons for music-based games have not been rated and that their content has not been considered in the ESRB rating assignment.
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