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Age-Ratings: Beyond the Number, Part 2

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Over the past few weeks here at AskAboutGames we've been looking at the process of rating a game, using the controversial new narrative thriller Detroit: Become Human as a case study.

We chose to use an adult, emotive game so we would explore how the ratings process handles mature content, and what role controversy has – or doesn't have – in the ratings process.

We've already looked at the controversy itself, and how the ratings process works. We also explored the basics of the 'Additional Consumer Information' profile each age-rated game in the UK is given by The VSC Rating Board. This time we return to Additional Consumer Information sheets – or 'ACIs', as they are more commonly known – and Detroit: Become Human's profile specifically.

You can quickly see that as well as carrying all the standard information found in any ACI, here in Detroit: Become Human's profile, it is made extremely clear why the game has been found suitable only for those aged 18-and-over. As detailed in the 'Advice for consumers' section: 'This rating has been given due to depictions of violence to vulnerable/defenceless human-like characters, depictions of strong violence to human-like characters, and use of sexual expletives.'

The ACI also touches on the controversial scenes that made the game infamous long before its release. While controversy itself doesn't influence the ratings process or rating applied, here we can see how an ACI can provide clarity and assurance to consumers around a given controversy by detailing any content at the heart of a controversy – rather than the controversy itself – without bias or prejudice. This can also give the likes of parents and guardians an opportunity to see beyond the controversy to the facts of the content itself. Often controversies around games become so dominated by opinions about a title, the details of the content itself can get left out of the discussion; something that can be particularly confusing when trying to make an informed purchasing decision.

Also in the same section, however, we can see that an ACI is not only about addressing controversy. It is about informing consumers, so we also see examples of Detroit: Become Human scenes that are typical of the game, or particularly strong examples of content that can be found throughout the gameplay experience..

You will also see that ACI's themselves, in detailing disturbing content, necessarily can detail adult themes, including violence, sexuality and bad language. As such, it's worth reading any ACI carefully before sharing it with younger family members – perhaps in a situation where you would be explaining why a child cannot play a particular game.

ACI's are there to help, whether a game is family-friendly and free from controversy, or extreme in its themes or interactions. So if you need to know more about a game, its ratings and its content, visit The VSC Rating Board website and search on the homepage for a game's ACI.

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Will Freeman