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My game is a story-driven horror game with lots of gore. Obviously, being a horror game places it on the higher end of the age rating already, but because of how backwards the rating system is (female nipples = BAAAAAD!!! Some guy getting his head split in two = eh... who cares) I'm kinda worried that I would get an even higher rating for the sexual themes.

No nudity is ever shown. Some of the characters mostly flirt and say dirty things, not dancing around the f-word (like I just did), and they don't really hold back on the cursing either, but the "worst" you can see is a couple naked in bed after they've done their deed. The actual deed is never shown and you don't see them naked.

Just to be clear, the sexual themes are not the focus of the game, in fact it only happens sparsely. It's mostly about the survival of the main characters.

What kind of rating would my game get?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.aspx That would be Mature content but not adults-only. \$\endgroup\$ – John Hamilton Feb 27 '17 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ArcaneEngineer You do realize America is not the worst in terms of age rating, right? I specifically didn't mention any countries so everyone could benefit from the answers. (fun fact: I don't even live in the US :D ) \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 27 '17 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are referring to ESRB, then we can edit your question to make that clear in the title. EDIT: I have now done so. \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Feb 27 '17 at 10:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ArcaneEngineer I wasn't referring to any specific rating group - I worded the question so the answer can be of use for people everywhere. America can't be the only one with this backwardness, after all. (Also, why did you remove your comment? Makes my own comment earlier look out of place.) \$\endgroup\$ – noClue Feb 27 '17 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Q. Without a rating system, how can you get an accurate answer? A. You can't, since different rating systems would have different specifications on how they rank. Until you name a rating system, I will leave "ESRB" in the question title. Otherwise, this question is effectively useless. \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Feb 27 '17 at 11:14
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According to the ESRB ratings guide (emphasis mine):

TEEN

Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.

MATURE

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

From your description, it sounds like your sexual aspects are merely suggestive, falling under the Teen category. For your suggestive wording and f-word usage, this would probably fall under Teen or Mature depending on how strongly the board feels about it.

All in all, you would have to get your game rated to find out, as every game is different.


If your game is only going to be distributed digitally and you publish using one of the International Age Rating Coalition's participating storefronts (eg Google Play), when publishing your game, the storefront will let you fill out the IARC's questionnaire to obtain an IARC certificate, which will give you an ESRB rating automatically based on the answers you provide.

Further reading: Microsoft has written a blog post giving insight into how their IARC age rating questionnaire is filled out.

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