A Ratings Check for Parents: Washington Capitals Stars Team Up With ESRB for PSA Campaign on Video Game Ratings

November 17, 2011

Ads Featuring Tomáš Vokoun and Jeff Halpern Encourage Parents to Use ESRB Ratings When Buying Games

WASHINGTON, DC – The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) – the video game industry’s ratings organization – today launched a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign with Washington Capitals’ goaltender Tomáš Vokoun (#29) and center Jeff Halpern (#15). The PSAs explain the ESRB rating system and encourage parents to use it when buying games for their families. The new PSA is viewable here.

“Most video games are great for kids, but there are some that aren’t,” says Vokoun, who is a father of two. “The ESRB ratings are there to help a parent make the call about which ones are appropriate for their children, and I’m proud to be helping reach parents with this important message.”

“It can be tough for parents to keep up with all the different types of media their kids are exposed to these days, but the ESRB ratings make it simple to manage the video games they play,” added Halpern. “Considering how many kids will be asking their parents for video games for the holidays, this campaign is the right message at the right time.”

The new ads are being distributed to TV and radio stations and cable networks throughout the D.C. metro area, including northern Virginia and Baltimore. They will also appear on the video display boards in the Verizon Center during a number of Capitals home games this season, and a shorter version will run on the Washington Capitals website. Ratings education brochures are also being distributed through GameStop and other retailers.

“There is no denying that video games are popular gift items for kids. And the choices  for parents can be overwhelming, especially during the holidays,” says ESRB president Patricia Vance. “ESRB is committed to educating parents on using rating information when shopping for video games. The more we are able to inform parents through partnerships like this one with the Caps, not to mention the incredible support of individuals like Tomáš and Jeff, the better they’ll be able to ensure that the games they give as gifts are OK for their children to play.”

“The video game industry boasts one of the most effective ratings systems available today, and persists in actively encouraging parents to use it,” added Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, the U.S. video game industry’s trade association. “We are grateful for the support of the Capitals on this informative and important campaign, and look forward to seeing the ads running at home games this season.”

The ESRB video game ratings consist of two parts. Rating symbols on the front of every game package sold at retail provide an age recommendation. On the back, next to the rating, are content descriptors that provide information about what’s in the game that may have triggered the rating or may be of interest or concern to parents.

In 2008 the ESRB began offering “rating summaries,” a supplementary source of information that gives parents a detailed yet brief and straightforward description of exactly the kind of content they would want to know about when choosing a game for their child, including specific examples. Parents can look up a game’s rating summary right from the store using a free mobile app (esrb.org/tools-for-parents/mobile-app/), mobile website (m.esrb.org), or search for games before heading to the store by searching ESRB’s website at www.esrb.org.

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About Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently assigns computer and video game content ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.