Tag Archives: videogame community

In-Game Glossary: What Is The ESRB Anyway?

It’s a truism in the game industry that a well-designed game should be playable immediately, with no instruction whatsoever.

― Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

When I was in high school, my friends and I visited video game specialty shops like GameStop and EB Games during the weekend. The video games were categorized by video game consoles, like Playstation and Xbox. Shelves packed with the latest and greatest in gaming. Balloons of anime and video game characters decorated the bland ceiling. Dim lighting hid dirt spots on the once light-gray carpet. I picked up a game I completed playing and surveyed its front cover, a rated M for mature ESRB label affixed squarely on the bottom right corner.

I was eighteen at the time and the oldest in my friend group. The rest of my friends were shy a few months to legal adulthood. My guy friend placed the game on the cashier counter. The cashier looked up and glared at my guy friend. My friend was 5’6, roughly 150 pounds and looked like he could’ve been in college, but the cashier didn’t buy it.

“Do you have an ID?” the cashier asked.

Of course not.

My friend nervously laughed. He pretended to dig through his jean pockets to grab his “ID.” We walked away and vowed to try to rebuy the game if the cashier was “cool enough” to sell it to us.

I’ve been playing rated M for mature games since I was a kid. In my experience, some rated T for teen games needed an M rating instead. What does the ESRB ratings stand for anyway? What is ESRB for and for who? 

Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory board, rating video games and apps to help consumers differentiate age-appropriate content to, well, not age-appropriate content. The rating guide was specially made for parents, to help them discern age-appropriate video game and app content for their kids.

You’ve probably seen the ESRB rating before, a black box with an off-kilter capital letter in the middle. The ESRB categories and descriptions are as follows:

EC – Early Childhood 
Content for children ages three and up. Not a single drop of inappropriate content here.

E – Everyone
As the ESRB ratings say, the video game or app content is for everyone. There may be minimal cartoon and fantasy violence. In this case, think every Super Mario game you’ve ever played.

E10+ – Everyone 10 and older
Content for ages ten and up. There may be mild cartoon and fantasy elements. There may also be mild use of violence.

T – Teen 
Content for ages 13 and up. This rating is for video games with the following “violence, suggestive themes, crude humour, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language,” according to IGN. So, think the Final Fantasy series.

M – Mature 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above but more intense plus sexual content. For this rating, think Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

AO – Adult Only 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above, but the content tends to lean more towards suggestive adult themes. I have never seen a game with this rating before. Apparently, it’s similar to receiving a scarlet letter.

RP – Rating Pending 
No official ESRB rating assigned to the video game or app yet.

ESRB ratings come in three phases: categories (as I’ve detailed above), content descriptors (also mentioned above) and the type of interactive elements.

Did you know about the different ESRB ratings and categories? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Witcher Season 1 Soundtrack And Other Witcher Content To Tide You Over

Musician playing guitar in town square
Photo by Caio Resende from Pexels

Toss a coin to your witcher
O Valley of Plenty
O Valley of Plenty, oh-oh-oh
Toss a coin to your witcher
A friend of humanity

From The Witcher – Season 1 Episode 2: ‘Four Marks’ (1×02) | Produced by Netflix

It’s been over a month since Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 and the hype just keeps getting more hype.

Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 Spotify Playlist

For anyone that is still singing Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, you can finally sing it on-the-go through your Spotify account. The Witcher season 1 soundtrack is finally here! It is a truly great Friday, indeed.

On another note, the third installment of The Witcher video game series, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, has more than 100k gamers on Steam playing the game simultaneously, four years after its release date. It’s not unnatural for a single-player RPG game to have a high number of gamers playing at once, but it is unprecedented for a game to have high engagement like that years after its initial release. Toss a coin to your witcher, indeed.

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher video game series

If you still can’t get enough of the White Wolf, there are five video games under The Witcher IP including The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt DLCs, Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone. Here’s a link to the entire The Witcher video game franchise available on Steam. It will take you several months to get through one video game, trust me.

Now, after you’ve played The Witcher video games, you’ll learn about the in-game card game, Gwent. If you have an abundance of patience, then give Gwent a try. Here’s a link to Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. By the way, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game isn’t on Steam, so you’ll have to download it separately.

Official The Witcher swag

Gamers are also avid video game nicknack collectors. CD Projekt Red, the video game developer for The Witcher video game series, has some pretty amazing swag on their website. If I had the money for a Geralt Ronin Figure, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Here’s a link to CD Projekt Red Store for The Witcher.

The Witcher also has FunKo POP! vinyl dolls. The dolls are definitely much more affordable than the Geralt Ronin Figure.

The Witcher book series and comics

And, of course, we can’t forget about Andrzej Sapkowski, the man who wrote The Witcher book series the Netflix series and video games are inspired by.

Sapkowski’s first book for The Witcher series, The Last Wish, is a collection of six short stories, mostly flashbacks of Geralt of Rivia’s travels. Does this sound familiar?

If you’re interested in reading the book series, you can check out Barnes&Noble’s how-to guide to get started. There are also The Witcher book series how-to guides on PCGamer.com and Reddit. I bet YouTube has a few great book series guides as well.

Eisner Award winner, Paul Tobin, wrote The Witcher comic books based on the video game series. The comic book series have five issues, starting with The Witcher: House of Glass. Upon reading the summary for each issue, it seems like the comic books are a collection of the monster hunter’s travels. Geralt’s getting himself in trouble again it seems. Check out Dark Horse Comics’ website to get your copy.

Witcher Wiki Fandom

Can you even call yourself a fan you if haven’t gone out of your way to read The Witcher Wiki Fandom? Yes, you can, but learning more about Geralt’s ugly, horrifying, and yet, beautiful world is worth getting lost in an entry about strigas.

The Witcher Wiki Fandom has entries about the books and the video games but remember, the books are the only canon The Witcher source material. Everything that exists outside of the literary IP are inspired by the books and are not canon to the entire storyline.

How are you keeping yourself distracted before Netflix’s The Witcher season 2? Let me know on the comment section below.