ESRB Rating Explanations

Most of the major video games and computer software manufacturers have adopted the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) system. This rating system was implemented in September 1994, and most games released since then have the ESRB rating on the product package. Games are classified into five age-based categories that are based on the levels of sex, nudity, violence and offensive language.

The Canadian Interactive Digital Software Association (CIDSA) administers the ESRB ratings in Canada. Manufacturers submit their games to rating reviewers for classification. Members of the CIDSA are encouraged though not required, to submit all new products before they appear in Canadian stores.

The ESRB more or less replaced the older RSAC ratings system.

Early Childhood
Content suitable for children ages 3 and over. Contains no violence. Child requires reading skills, fine motor skills and a high level of thinking skills. 

Content suitable for persons ages six and older. They may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief (for example, slapstick comedy), or some crude language.


Content suitable for persons 13 and older. Contains all the above, plus more animated or realistic violence. May have strong language and/or suggestive themes.


Content suitable for persons ages 17 and older. These products may include more intense violence or language than products in the Teen category. In addition, these titles may also include mature sexual themes.

Adults Only
Content suitable only for adults. These products may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adults Only products are not intended to be sold or rented to persons under the age of 18.

Rating Pending
Product has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting final rating.