Long-Term Effects of 2006 Oblivion Re-Rating?

ESRB AdvisorySpeaking 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?

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

5 Comments on Long-Term Effects of 2006 Oblivion Re-Rating?

Mike Henshaw

On June 17, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I think every game MODer out there should release sexual, violent, and strong language MODs for E to T games so the ESRB can see that they can not control what the community does with a game nor should the game developers be responsible for what the community does with the games.

This would be just like if you placed a new engine in your car and the car maker was forced to re-test the car for miles per gallon or some other test!

Politics should stay were they belong, in the government. Every time I hear about this I always think about the comic book rating system that was taken down by the comic book industry. Now only if the game industry could do the same!


On June 18, 2007 at 3:56 am

you know the ESRB is just like movie ratings.. it’s simply a guideline.. once they drop a rating on something, that should be it. They spend so much time and energy worrying about these little things when there are so many other important issues out there.

They should take some of the money the ESRB wastes and offer free parenting classes for morons who buy their 5 year olds GTA.


On June 20, 2007 at 6:39 am

One of the problems was that in fact Bethesda had mapped a nude body and shipped it with the game, all they had done was stick some underwear on it and supplied the means to remove that underwear.


On June 24, 2007 at 8:34 am

Actually, Bethesda only had the MALE topless texture included by default. The only tool they released is the Construction Set, which can only edit .ESM and .ESP files. If the ESRB wants to rerate games then Daggerfall would definitely get an AO ratting and mMorrowind would be M at least because of mods.

Mr. Dave

On September 25, 2008 at 2:00 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how the less intelligent a person is, the more vocal he or she becomes. Bethesda did indeed include a nude topless female texture with the game. This is indeed what caused the rating change. You see, they failed to inform the ESRB of its inclusion. It was NOT caused by a modder “unlocking” it. It wasn’t locked. It was just sitting in a folder waiting to be used.
So Ron, your statement of “The change wasn’t brought about by anything Bethesda did.” is flat out wrong. Do your homework before making a fool of yourself for the world to see.

“Want a safer internet? Demand IQ tests for online access.”. -Mr. Dave