Christian Allen Interview

Ghost Recon Future Soldier Rating

April 23rd 2012 | Updated 13 May 2012

In this weeks mailbag we received the following question from a concerned gamer, we shall call H.S.

"Many people have parents like mine who do not approve of games that have high amounts blood and or gore. Even though Im, 17... I am very much interested in the new ghost recon game and I've been a fan of previous games.  My question for you today is can the gore and blood content be turned off. Something like the latest call of duties. just enough to impress the parents. please and thank you?"

This raises a few good questions, but the key point is not whether there is a gore setting or not, the key point is the game rating assigned by the relevant games rating body, as this will take into account the games gore level in addition to many other factors to arrive at a recommended minimum age.

What is the rating for Ghost Recon Future Soldier? How is the rating arrived at? Is it legally enforceable? Can you buy the game if you are under the recommended age? Do people actually play the game to arrive at the rating? And why can you play Future Soldier at a younger age if you live in Europe?

The answers to all these questions, apart from one, are below! And assuming our caller "H.S" is in the USA, good news, you don't have to move out to play Future Soldier!


Ghost Recon Future Soldier Ratings Explained.

In the US and Canada game ratings are assigned by The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The ESRB is a self regulatory body created by the Entertainment Software Association in 1994.

So how does the ESRB manage to rate games? Do they have a massive team of gamers playing and reporting on all the new games months before the are released? Not quite, it's actually a lot more boring than that.

Game publishers are legally bound to inform the ESRB of game content, including locked content. This information is supplied in writing and also audio - visual, i.e game footage. The ESRB have a duty to ensure that the supplied information is correct though, and to do this they let a bank of playtesters loose on a selection of released titles. Great job!

Should the ESRB find that the game publisher was not fully fluent with game content, it has a number of sanctions it can employ, including a full product recall. Although the process is a little different for digital distribution, the same rules and sanctions apply.

The ESRB has six ratings for computer games, and games such Ghost Recon Future Soldier usually fall into one of the top two categories.

The top category is Adults Only (AO) and is reserved for games that display content deemed only suitable for over 18s. Such games will have prolonged scenes of a sexual nature, or intense violence.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier does not fall into that category, the ESRB have used their second top rating for Future Soldier, category M for Mature. The difference between M and AO is down to one word "prolonged".

A game rated M can also have sexual content and intense violence, but not for prolonged periods. I guess this means no massive kill streaks! The recommended minimum age for an M rated title is 17 years of age.

When rating Ghost Recon Future Soldier, the ESRB found blood, intense violence and strong language, but while they described the action as "frenetic", they did not find the action came in periods of prolonged activity sufficient to warrant a AO Adults only rating.

The full ESRB Ghost Recon Future Soldier rating summary does contain some semi-spoilers, so don't read it unless you want to know about instances of throat cutting or stabbings.

Are retailers legally bound to comply with ESRB ratings? According to their own FAQ, the answer is no, as conformancy is voluntary. The ESRB do however monitor stores with secret shoppers etc. It's also worth noting that even if you are under 17, you can still purchase Ghost Recon Future Soldier if it is with your parents consent.

In Europe game rating are assigned by Pan European Game Information (PEGI). Games can be assigned one of five PEGI ratings, which clearly identify the minimum recommended age. As with the USA ESRB rating system, retailer compliance is voluntary, but never-the-less very high levels of compliance are achieved.

At this point in time, PEGI have yet to publish their rating for Ghost Recon Future Soldier, however every full Ghost Recon game to date has been rated 16, so it is more than likely Ghost Recon Future Soldier will follow suit.

So in summary, in the USA you can purchase Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier yourself if you are 17 or over, and with your parents permission if you are under 17. In Europe, you can buy Ghost Recon Future Soldier if you are 16 or over.


In the UK from July 2012, the Video Standards Council, will be responsible for enforcing game ratings assigned by PEGI.

The BBC reports that "The new system means for the first time that anybody selling a 12-rated game to a child under that age could face jail."

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