The Competitive Enterprise Institute , a think tank based in D.C. has written a fairly extensive paper on media ratings system, including a few positive words about the ESRB.
Politically Determined Ratings and How to Avoid Them is the title of the 30-page document which analyses rating systems for different types of media. According to the authors, Cord Blomquist and Eli Lehrer the ESRB rating system is working well.
“The best rating systems have three attributes: They attempt to describe, rather than prescribe, what entertainment media should contain; they are particularly suited to their particular media forms; and they were created with little or no direct input from government.”
Take that, government.
The paper continues on to praise the ESRB’s accessibility. “The [ESRB] system for evaluating computer games works better than most… Parents can tell, at a glance, exactly what they might find objectionable… Congress has held hearings on the video game industry and threatened to regulate content, but the system emerged almost entirely as a result of voluntary private action, and has worked well…”
The authors also attempt to explain why restrictions like the ones imposed on radio and comics failed. According to the paper, “Radio content regulation and the Comics Code fail because they provide very little information — none at all in the case of radio — and attempt to set particular limits over media that, by their very nature, should facilitate a wide range of different types of experiences for a wide range of different types of audiences. Neither takes the nature of the medium into account.”