The Entertainment Software Ratings Board, or ESRB, is the institution behind the “E” or “M” ratings you see on games. It’s kind of like the video games version of the MPAA ratings. However, the ratings system–intended to let parents know a little more about the content of games they’re giving their kids–has been getting a little long in the tooth lately. For years, an increasing number of game ratings came with a lame caveat: “online interaction not rated by the ESRB.” As more games came online, parents needed information beyond just knowing that the game has an online component. Today, the ESRB announced three new badges describing online play, added ratings to Windows 8 games, and also threw in a nifty crowdsourcing element for games that they can’t get around to rating. The three new badges are the image above, and they’re way overdue. It’s important to know whether a game shares your location, for instance, or whether it’s going to put your information on boards (ostensibly to find people to play against.) Also, with the advent of cheap but popular indie games, it’s important to get them rated, and the ability of gamers to fill out a questionnaire, called the ESRB’s Digital Rating Service, will allow the ESRB to continue to be relevant even as the gaming landscape radically changes.
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