I was pleased with the result, and I think it achieves a bit of what I'd pitched to the ESRB to start with: transparency. We still don't know who the raters are, but we at least know more about the process. I think that's potentially an important step toward addressing any flaws in the system.
A few tidbits for the lazy: They have six full-time raters, five are new this year, and they can rate 150 games in the busiest month before the holidays. They are all from New York and vary in gender, background, and experience with children. Cartoon violence can be tricky to rate, as well as religion and sexuality. Raters do not get to pick the games they rate, but the system appears to be one of random assignments.
Not that its matters to me, but having them all be from New York might raise some eyebrows from other state politicians who ,perhaps rightfully so, might want respenstation/particaipation on the ESRB.
Having all the participant from one state is just a mistake form a public relations point of view. Yes, it would likely double or triple costs to have ESRB to have participant in other states, but how much does it cost to rent an anonymous office in some medium sized city in Iowa or Kansas? Then add of a secretary/receptionist, office managers and test supervisor at that office. The first thing that will happen if there is some congressional inquiry is that fact that a bunch of ‘New York liberals’ are rating games for 50 states and Puerto Rico and Guam. Yes, totally irrelevant from a factual point of view yet totally news radio and Sunday morning talk show worthy from a public relations stand point.
The problem with games ratings as such is that they think rating an active entertainment like games is like rating a passive entertainment like movies or television.
Parents look at the back of the box and see those ratings and make decisions like they're kids are going to watch a movie. Games are far more interactive and often reward players for negative actions whereas in the movies the bad guy usually gets what's coming to him.
Stop giving me "blood and gore" and "intense violence" on the backs of Onimusha 3 and Manhunt like that describes what my kids is really going to be doing in the games. Oh wait--Manhunt has strong language too. How very edifying.