The ESA just published its annual report for the last year, and among other things, it discussed the ESRB and its ratings. In March of last year, the ESA commissioned an independent survey of 508 parents with children between the ages of 3 and 17 who play video games. The results were interesting.
Of those surveyed, 86% were aware of the ESRB rating system. 75% said they checked a game's rating before purchasing. 72% were aware of the content descriptors published alongside the ratings, but only 57% regularly read them before purchasing a title. 98% of parents said that they found ratings "helpful" in choosing age-appropriate games for their children, and 98% said that they were confident the ratings gave an accurate depiction of a game's content.
In an attempt to raise the profile of the ratings system, the ESRB has introduced a number of initiatives. Rating summaries are available for searching via ESRB.org and can be accessed either via free mobile apps for iPhone and Android, or via the ESRB's mobile site. The latest versions of the mobile apps incorporate photo recognition, allowing parents to simply take a photo of the game to identify it and check its rating summary.
The ESRB also launched two public service announcement campaigns supporting ratings education and summaries. Six 30-second TV and radio PSAs were produced, expected to have been seen by about 100 million people through June 2011. The PSAs were also broadcast in the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Blackhawks' in-arena display boards, as well as in GameStop, Toys R Us and Blockbuster stores nationwide.
In the wake of the Brown v. EMA case being defeated, the ESRB will likely step up its efforts to ensure that consumers are able to make an informed choice about what games to purchase for themselves or for their children.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as ESA's ESRB Ratings Research