Let’s just assume for a minute that it’s an ideal world, where parents keep a watchful eye on the video games their kids are playing.
If that’s the case, it’s great news that Sony plans to load a video game ratings guide directly onto the PSP, through a partnership with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
The guide explains the meaning behind ESRB ratings, along with movie ratings from the MPAA. It also provides a walkthrough for setting up parental controls on the PSP Go.
While it’d be great to see this functionality on all gaming consoles, it’s especially important to the PSP Go. The handheld gaming device, coming October 1, doesn’t support physical media, so every bit of content is downloaded directly onto the console.
That means no game boxes, unless you plan to buy download vouchers from Gamestop. While resources such as WhatTheyPlay, Gaming With Children and the ESRB’s own Web site are already available to parents who actively get involved with their kids’ gaming, the rating on the box remains the most convenient way of knowing what games are appropriate.
Packing a ratings guide onto the PSP Go isn’t just useful to parents, it’s a clever move by the games industry to head off inevitable criticism. Once politicians and other video game alarmists realize the box has gone away, they’ll target the PSP Go for providing easy access to explicit materials. When that happens, Sony and the ESRB can point to this ratings guide and say they did the best they could.