Improving the Entertainment Software Rating Board

I was reading through an EGM article on the ESRB where the writer commented on changes to the rating system, and was wondering what changes you guys feel would be best to improve the rating system. I’ll quickly outline what was mentioned and then state my opinions..

-The rating categories are not flexible enough and nobody cares to support the Adults Only rating. Proposed solution was to have the Mature rating be the top of the scale, which is recommended to anyone 18 or older, and would include everything that was AO previously.
-There are only six full-time raters and they don’t even play the games they rate, just watch videos of other people playing them. Proposed solution was to have all raters play games from start to finish in completion and take notes along the way, as well as hire more raters so the pool is larger.
-Sequels and game series sometimes carry on the same rating as the previous game, where they should be judged individually.
-After the raters decide on a rating the officials would sometimes change the rating without feedback from the raters, where their work should be trusted that they are doing their job correctly and providing accurate ratings.

My opinion:

Maybe I haven’t paying attention but the fact that only six raters are coming up with these ratings was somewhat shocking to me, but I don’t think simply beefing up the crew with more raters is enough. Their backgrounds should be taken into account, more than just their gender, to ensure a diverse group of raters that will provide perspectives from many different angles. I’m talking about getting people with different cultural backgrounds from various countries, for applications such as.. what may be offensive to a parent from one cultural background may not be offensive to a parent from a different one.

The last part about the final rating getting modified by the officials bothers me the most but it’s nothing that I didn’t think was going on already. This part of the process is where the media and political crap gets it’s shot at making their decisions about what they think games should be rated.

Looking forward to hearing some more opinions on the subject..