The Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory organization that provides ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and provides online privacy practices for the video game industry in the United States and Canada. It was established in 1994 by the Electronic Software Association. Only one Final Fantasy game so far has been rated "Mature", and no games feature the "Adults Only" rating. The decision to found the ESRB was due to the graphic "fatality" killing moves from Mortal Kombat and other violent video games at the time.
The ESRB provides for 7 general ratings, and 32 "Content Descriptors." Depending on the intensity of the content, some games can be restricted from general access, the guidelines for which are as follows below.
Advisory content ratingsEdit
These ratings are advisory in nature, and are sold without any restrictions on access:
Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release. Games that have more intense content may prompt the use of the disclaimer "May contain content inappropriate for children" in the trailers.
Titles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for all ages. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain sexual content, violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
This is the highest unrestricted rating, and is the most common rating amongst all Final Fantasy games in the United States and Canada. The first game in the spinoff series Crystal Chronicles was also rated T, but the E10+ rating was not created at that time. Subsequent games in that series were all rated E10+, as that series is aimed at a younger audience than the main series.
Restricted content ratingsEdit
By contrast, the following ratings are legally restricted from general access, and require consumers to be of a certain age in order to obtain games with these ratings:
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. Players under 17 cannot get games with this rating unless they have parental consent to do so, and if they are 17 or older, they must show ID proving it. Final Fantasy Type-0 is the only game in the series to receive this rating.
Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or strong sexual content and nudity. As with the M rating, players must show ID to obtain games with this rating. Only 28 games so far have received this rating, and this rating is assigned to games very rarely.
In addition to the general ratings listed on the front of the box, the ESRB also provides detailed "content descriptors" on the back of the video game box. A complete list of the content descriptors may be found here.
Given the fairly intense (to varying degrees, but not too severe) content of many of the games in this franchise, the consumer playing the game, depending on the consumer's age, may need parental guidance (the majority of Final Fantasy games are rated T, which is the highest unrestricted rating).
In the United States, there are often many content edits made for censorship purposes, due to cultural differences with, and higher censorship standards than, Japan; darker and more mature themes tend to be censored for American audiences (for more information, see the article about the localization of Square Enix video games).
- CERO, the Japanese computer and video game rating system.
- Australian Classification Board, the Australian rating system.
- PEGI, the European computer and video game rating system.
- ELSPA, the former British computer and video game rating system, replaced by the PEGI ratings.