Before parents buy that video game their children are begging for, the Entertainment Software Rating Board encourages them to check the rating on the front of the packaging.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in computer and video games so consumers, especially parents, can make an informed decision when purchasing games.
The ratings come in two parts, a rating symbol on the front that suggests age appropriateness for the game, and content descriptions on the back that indicate elements in the game that may have triggered a particular rating.
There are six ratings the board gives games. The first is early childhood (EC). These games have content that may be suitable for children age three and older. The games do not contain any material that parents would find inappropriate.
The next rating is Everyone (E). These games have content that may be suitable for children ages six and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
After E is Everyone 10+ (E10+). These games have content that may be suitable for children ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Teen (T) ratings are given to games that have content that may be suitable for children ages 13 and older. The games may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulate gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
The next rating is Mature (M). These games are suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
The last rating is Adults Only (AO). The content in these games should only be played by persons 18 years or older. These games may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
Sarah Gonzalez, an employee at Game Stop in Yakima, said she and other employees can get fired if they sell a game to an underage kid.
"A lot of kids don't realize they can't buy Mature or Adults Only games," she said.
She said the ratings are imposed so children aren't exposed to violence that's excessive to what they should be seeing at that age.
Gonzalez said she ID's people every day and so far has only encountered a couple of people who seemed to be aware of the rating system.
She advises parents shopping for this year's Christmas presents to beware the game their child has begged for the last few months might not be an appropriate game for their age.