Long-Term Effects of 2006 Oblivion Re-Rating?
Speaking of the ESRB, let’s go back in time a bit. Anyone remember back in 2006 when the ESRB re-rated Oblivion? In early May of 2006, the ESRB quietly changed the rating on The Elder Scrolls IV from “T” to “M”. Bethesda then had to recall the game, repackage it, and re-ship it. Now, that’s not exactly unprecedented, except for one thing. The change wasn’t brought about by anything Bethesda did.
In case you’ve forgotten, a modder created a topless female model, and distributed it over the internet. Of course Bethesda had no control over it, but for some reason, the ESRB felt it warranted a re-rating. Of course, coming right before E3 at the time, the news stayed under the radar.
Now, the reason I bring all this up is that there’s a little article over at The Escapist that’s talking about the long term effects of that episode. What long-term effects?
Simply put, with the political and social pressure that is being placed on the game industry these days, the idea that a game company could be held responsible for player-created, player-distributed content is understandably scary for developers and publishers alike. At some point, the ESRB is going to have to draw a line between developer content and user content.
The problem is that for people outside the industry, especially non-gamers, the difference between developer and user created content is not so clear. Explaining that difference will be the key to the ESRB being able to draw a line between the two. Here’s a question for you: How does the ESRB make the distinction, and how do they explain it to the general public?