Game legislation advocate and California Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee has stated his opinion on the ESRB’s Oblivion re-rating, saying the agency "again has failed our parents".
Just one day after the ESRB changed developer Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion rating from "T" to "M", Yee has stated that the firm "has shown that they cannot police themselves." He added, "Plain and simply, the current rating system is drastically flawed and here is yet another reason why we need legislation to assist parents and protect children."
The Democrat drew comparisons to the film industry’s regulation, saying, "Unlike the movie industry’s rating board which reviews the entire content of a film, the ESRB rates games based on very limited viewing of the game and rely almost entirely on information provided to them by the game manufacturer."
Oblivion’s rating was changed not only because of a third-party enabled nude mod, but also because "more detailed depictions of blood and gore than were considered in the original rating." Bethesda responded by saying it gave the ESRB plenty of time to thoroughly go over the contents of the game and its corresponding 60-page application. The nude mod isn’t currently accessible in the Xbox 360 version.
Although the ESRB and Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association boasted of the efficiency of the change and its communication to parents and retailers, Yee said, "While the retailers may have been made aware of the re-ratings, how many parents are still unaware that these games include such graphic content? In both instances, thousands of children had already purchased the game, as well as many parents who bought the game thinking it may be appropriate for their child. Take Two Interactive continued to receive all profits and was not penalized in any way."
Yee further singled out Take Two, parent to Oblivion co-publisher 2K Games, as he stated, "Take Two Interactive just doesn’t learn. It was only ten months ago that this same publisher deceived parents by first putting hidden sex scenes into their already ultra-violent video game and then lying about the fact that they allowed the content to be included."
Bethesda yesterday insisted that nothing was hidden from the ESRB in its rating application. The developer also emphasized that Bethesda, not 2K or Take Two, was responsible for the ratings application submission, and "stands behind it." No recall is taking place, but the game will be relabeled accordingly.