CTIA (International Wireless Trade Association) and ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) have come together to formulate a system to rate the games for mobile phones based on their content for age appropriateness.
The rating system will be a voluntary one for the developers, where a detailed questionnaire is to be filled by them to arrive at the rating. The questionnaire was created by the ESRB and specifically calls out sexual or crude content as valid reasons to elevate the rating to more mature age groups.
The rating system will be unveiled on November 29 in Washington D.C. Similar to the popular ratings system for console and PC gaming, the ratings will assign grades based on the content of the game and specify which age groups are suitable for each game.
Since 1994, the ESRB has rated over 21,000 games but have allowed developers and publishers of downloadable games on services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network to self-police ratings with a detailed questionnaire.
Apple’s iOS platform already has a rating system in place, which splits apps into four categories. The 4+ level is suitable for all ages and the 9+ level may contain mild violence or mature themes, which is not suitable for any child under the age of nine.
The 12+ level contains the previously mentioned content in addition to simulated gambling and the 17+ level could easily include intense violent and sexual content. Parents can lock down the level of apps available to be purchased by using the parental controls.
The Android platform uses a similar rating system that ranges from ‘Everyone’ to ‘High Maturity’. Windows platform attempts to direct children to a family section to purchase apps.
Both the CTIA and the ESRB will need to convince Apple and Google to adopt the ratings system to include it within the application description. Developers can anyways include these ratings in the description of the game.