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ESRB History

1994 – ESRB founded by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA was renamed Entertainment Software Association in 2004)

1994 – New ESRB rating system announced, with 5 rating categories and 17 content descriptors

1995 – Advertising Code of Conduct created and adopted by the IDSA

1997 – ESRBi rating system established for the Internet, with 5 rating categories and 22 content descriptors

1997 - Online Rating Notice established to warn consumers of user-generated content in online-enabled games and on websites

1997 – “Instructional” and “Edutainment” content descriptors added to ESRB rating system

1998 – K-A (Kids to Adults) rating category changed to E (Everyone)

1999 – Series of ESRB Public Service Announcements launched featuring Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and Regis Philbin

1999ESRB Privacy Online certification service launched

1999 – Non-pixilated versions of rating symbols introduced

2000 – Advertising Review Council established as division of ESRB to monitor compliance with industry-adopted marketing and advertising guidelines

2000 – ESRB enforcement system established to impose sanctions, including points, fines and corrective actions, on companies who do not comply with ESRB rules and guidelines

2000 – “Mild Lyrics,” and “Strong Lyrics” content descriptors introduced

2001 – New target marketing guidelines for Mature-rated games introduced

2002- “Partial Nudity,” “Nudity,” “Reference to Drugs,” “Reference to Alcohol,” “Reference to Tobacco,” and “Mature Humor” content descriptors introduced

2002 – Arthur Pober departs as ESRB’s founding president; Patricia Vance joins ESRB as its new president

2003 – ESRBi rating system for the Internet discontinued

2003 – “Cartoon Violence,” “Fantasy Violence,” “Intense Violence,” “Sexual Violence,” and “Crude Humor” content descriptors introduced

2003 – “OK to Play?” PSA and retail partnership campaign launched

2004 – “Mature Sexual Themes” content descriptor changed to “Sexual Themes;” “Simulated Gambling” and “Real Gambling” added as content descriptors

2005 – E10+ rating category introduced for games that may be suitable for ages 10 and older

2005Canadian Advisory Committee established

2006 – ESRB increases fine up to $1 million for non-disclosure of pertinent content

2006ESRB Retail Council (ERC) launched by ESRB and leading computer and video game retailers; "ERC Commitment to Parents" is adopted by all ERC retail members

2006 – ESRB launches ratings education partnership with PTA

2006 – National radio and TV PSA campaign promoting ratings awareness launched with U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Lieberman

2007 – ESRB launches ratings education partnership with GoodHousekeeping.com

2007Ingram Entertainment, the leading wholesale distributor of home entertainment products, distributes ESRB ratings education signage to 10,000 independent and small chain video game retailers nationwide

2008 – ESRB launches its ratings search "widget"

2008 – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finds eight in ten underage buyers are turned away when attempting to purchase Mature-rated games

2008 – PTA and ESRB release "Parents Guide to Video Games, Parental Controls and Online Safety"

2008Rating summaries are introduced along with ESRB's mobile website at m.esrb.org

2008 – ESRB establishes a partnership with Parenting

2009ESRB Privacy Online launches E.U. Privacy Seal Certification program

2009 – ESRB releases a free rating search app for iPhone

2009 – ESRB joins Facebook and Twitter

2009 – The FTC's sixth follow-up Report to Congress lauds ESRB for having "the strongest self-regulatory code" and confirms that retailers have maintained their 80% store policy compliance rate

2010 – ESRB launches PSA campaigns with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Blackhawks, both of which include TV and radio ads running in their respective regions as well as in-stadium/arena

2010 – The ESRB Website Council (EWC) is established to help ensure that game enthusiast sites post complete rating information and employ age-gates on trailers and videos for M- and AO-rated games

2010 – A new version of the ESRB's free mobile app is launched for Android (in addition to iPhone). Both allow users to look up rating summaries simply by snapping a photo of a game's packaging

2011 – The FTC's mystery shopper study finds enforcement of entertainment ratings to be "highest among video game sellers" with 87% overall compliance

2011 – ESRB introduces its first automated, streamlined process for assigning ratings to console downloadable games

2011 – ESRB launches a version of its mobile app for Windows Phone and adds voice search to enable quicker, easier searches

2011 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. EMA/ESA that video games qualify for First Amendment protection and the sale of violent games may not be restricted by law, a landmark decision that recognized the effectiveness of the ESRB rating system

2011 – ESRB is commissioned by the CTIA, the trade association representing wireless carriers in the U.S., to develop and administer a rating system for mobile apps

2011 – ESRB launches TV, radio and in-arena PSA campaign with the Washington Capitals

2012 – ESRB releases a new print and online PSA campaign featuring real-life parents and gamers and artwork by Penny Arcade

2012 – ESRB launches TV and radio PSA campaign with the San Francisco Giants with airings in AT&T Park and throughout the Bay Area during the 2012 MLB season

2012 – ESRB introduces Digital Rating Service to provide cost-free ratings for digitally delivered games

2013 – ESA and ESRB, in close collaboration with ESA member companies and other industry partners, launch a new PSA campaign informing parents and other consumers about the rating system, parental controls, and other tools to help ensure they choose video games appropriate for their family

2013 – The FTC announces that video game retailers continue to have the highest level of store policy enforcement as compared to other entertainment retailers with 87% overall compliance

2013 – ESRB's Safe Harbor privacy program is re-branded ESRB Privacy Certified featuring new seals and privacy resources for existing and new members

2013Interactive Elements added to ESRB ratings for digital games and apps to inform about interactive aspects of a product, including users' ability to interact, the sharing of users' location with other users, or the fact that certain personal information may be shared with third parties

2013 – ESRB updates its rating search app with a new design and enhanced rating search features and introduces new versions of the app for iPad and Android tablets

2013 – New versions of the rating symbols are introduced with a cleaner, bolder look and less text, improving how the icons appear on mobile, online and other digital storefronts

2014 – Led by the ESRB, the IARC began assigning rating information for games and apps on Mozilla's Firefox Marketplace on January 14

2014 – ESRB celebrates its 20th anniversary. On September 16, ESRB issued a press release announcing its 20th anniversary and distributed video testimonials featuring insight, advice for parents and the continued support for ESRB from key industry members.

2014 – ESRB distributes a series of parental instructional guides and online videos hosted by Monica Vila of TheOnlineMom.com, in both English and Spanish, for the PlayStation 4®, Wii U and Xbox One®

2015 – ESRB announces the expansion in use of its video game ratings to mobile and digital storefronts in North America as part of The International Age Rating Coalition, a new global rating system developed with other rating authorities from around the world.

2016 – ESRB announces expanded deployment of the International Age Rating Coalition rating system for digitally delivered games and apps in North America.

2017 – ESRB began assigning rating information for games and apps on the Oculus Store on January 17, 2017 using the IARC rating system.

2017 – Republic of Korea's Game Rating and Administration Committee (GRAC) became the newest participant in the IARC rating system on December 12, 2017, joining the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in North America, PEGI in Europe, ClassInd in Brazil, USK in Germany and the Classification Board in Australia.

2018ESRB began assigning Interactive Elements to physical (e.g., boxed) games, including In-Game Purchases and Users Interact, on April 1, 2018.

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