TIGRS: The Independent Games Rating System

The Entertainment Software Rating Board acts as the video game industry’s self-regulating body to enforce and apply ratings and marketing guidelines among other things. Unfortunately, if you aren’t a multmillion dollar publisher, you might find it difficult to contact the ESRB to get your games rated.

What do indie game developers do? They either continue to push, hoping to get heard eventually, or they sell their games without worrying about the ratings.

Enter TIGRS, The Independent Game Rating System. It’s simple, clear, and free. There is no need to go to some licensing board who will take their time to approve an expensive grant to claim that your game is kid-friendly.

It is also well-designed. The colors were carefully chosen so that the small percentage of the population that is colorblind can still comfortably read the ratings.

The author has granted the freedom to use these works so long as you don’t claim authorship. The only request is to not abuse the fact that you can basically give yourself an E for Everyone rating when you have clearly made a game that deserves an A for adults.

In the end, I think it should be fine. You can’t confuse an E game for an A game. A problem I can see is that someone from Japan will think a game is for everyone whereas someone in America will see the game as too racy for children. Similarly a game will be perfectly fine for American audiences, but will be deemed to violent for Japanese children. Different cultures will have different standards for E, T, and A.

But maybe I’m wrong and there will only be minor quibbles about whether or not a game has cartoon violence or realistic violence. TIGRS will be more effective when more people use it, of course. I think it is a good idea, and it can evolve as needed.

EDIT: the system is fairly new and changes were made. It will no longer use E, T, and A ratings. It is also easier to create the rating. Now, the website is really useful for publishers and customers alike.

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