Game ratings and content descriptors: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about game ratings and content descriptors.

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What are game ratings?

Game ratings are set by a game ratings board, which is an organization that establishes guidelines for video game content for different regions and countries. A game ratings board typically assigns an age-based ratings level to each game. The ratings board also examines the content of each game and adds content descriptors to the rating. The ratings and content descriptors are very similar to the systems often used to rate and describe the content of movies.

What are age ratings?

Age ratings group content into levels appropriate for different ages, from young children through mature teens, along with an adults-only category.

What are content descriptors?

There are dozens of different descriptors, typically used to identify content that some people might find objectionable for children. If a game has a content descriptor such as Violence, that indicates that there's violence of some kind in the game. Read the list carefully before deciding what you want to block.

Keep in mind that the level of detail of the content can vary from game to game. A game with a Blood and Gore descriptor could indicate realistic, gruesome images rendered in detail, or it could also indicate a small spot of color seen from a distant point of view within the game. It's often a good idea to learn as much as you can about individual games before deciding whether they should be blocked.

How do I find out what a game's rating and content descriptors are?

If the game is installed on the computer, you can check the game's rating and content descriptors in the Games folder.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Select the game in the list.

  3. The rating and content descriptors appear on the Ratings tab on the right side of the window.


  • If you have the box the game came in, the game's rating appears on the front of the box, and the content descriptors appear on the back of the box.

What does "content may change during online play" mean?

This warning means that the setting of the game is an online virtual world where different players can affect the environment and the gaming activity as time goes on. Online games let players affect game play in many ways, so game manufacturers can't guarantee that some customers won't invent ways to create game content that might be objectionable to some people.

Because the things players can create change from game to game, this warning usually indicates that you should perform your own research about the game. Visit the game company's website and try to read as much as you can about the game from third party sources, such as magazines and websites, dedicated to game coverage.