III. The ESRB Rating System

Before the ESRB's formation in 1994, video games with mature content were made, even then, dating back as far as 1976. Games such as Death Race and Mystique's Custer's Revenge and the video game crash of 1983 brought attention to the topic of stricter game regulation.

The '90s brought better graphics and sound capabilities. In 1992, two senators lead hearings about the corruption of society and video game violence, the hyper realistic graphics (at the time) and brutal violence of Mortal Kombat and the suggestive content in the scenes of the game Night Trap being specifically cited in these hearings.

There were some kinds of rating systems around this time, such as Sega's Videogame Rating Council (VRC), The 3DO Company's 3DO Rating System for games released on the company's platform, and the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) for PC games. One of the senators that lead the hearings mentioned earlier didn't think that any of these systems were sufficient, threatening to create a federal commision to rate and regulate games

Because of this threat, a group of major companies including Acclaim Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Nintendo, and Sega formed the ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Rating Rating Summary
The eC rating symbol Early childhood: Intended for young children.
The E rating symbol Everyone: Suitable for all age groups.
The E10+ rating symbol Everyone 10+: Suitable for everyone age 10 or older.
May contain some mild, cartoon, or fantasy violence
or some use of mild language.
The T rating symbol Teen: Suitable for everyone 13 or older.
May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude
humor, minimal amounts of blood, simulated
gambling, or some mild language.
The M rating symbol Mature: Suitable for everyone 17 or older. May contain
intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, or
strong language.
The Ao rating symbol Adults Only: Suitable for everyone 18 or older. May
contain prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic
sexual content, or real gambling.
The RP rating symbol Rating Pending: Not yet assigned, but expected to
have, an ESRB rating. Used in promotional material.

For more info on the ESRB, go to their official website.