This ESRB Ratings Guide explains what each Game Boy game rating means

Gameboy Advance console

ESRB Ratings Guide

There is a huge misconception that Game Boy is a platform for children, hence the notion that all the games must be safe for kids of all ages. This is far from true.

Although there may be a plethora of family titles available, there are just as many geared to older children, teens and adults. You might pick one up starring a cartoon squirrel with the impression that it must be okay, only to discover that that the squirrel is a beer-swilling womanizer. Or, you might do your best to avoid games that sound violent only to find the title is a code word for blowing puppies to gory bits. This is why the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was formed.

The ESRB's mission is to rate game content based on the degree of violence, sexuality, language, etc. Although similar to the film ratings board, the ESRB rates on a different curve. You simply watch a movie, but a video game is interactive. If a character is shot, you're the one who did the shooting or the one who got shot. This is a difficult task that the ESRB takes very seriously. Not only do they require game content to be reviewed, but packaging and advertising, as well.

To ensure you know the acceptable age range, the ESRB created rating symbols and content descriptors. Rating symbols display what age for which the content is appropriate, while content descriptors outline the questionable content.

Please understand these ratings are a guide to use in making decisions, but it's still best to use your best judgment on what you feel is most suitable for your kids.

EC - Early Childhood

These games are suitable for ages 3 and older. The game does not contain anything violent, offensive or inappropriate.

E - Everyone

E (Everyone): These games are suitable for children ages 6 and older. They might contain some light cartoon violence and/or mild language.

A good example of an E - Everyone rated game is Donkey Kong Country 3.

E10+ - Everyone 10 and older

E10+ (Everyone 10 and older): Games that are suitable for ages 10 and older. The game may contain slightly more cartoon violence and mild language than "E" rated games, and/or include minimal suggestive themes.

A good example of an E+10 - Everyone 10 and older rated game is Final Fantasy IV.

T - Teen

T (Teen): These games are suited more for ages 13 and older. The game might contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, and/or some strong language.

M - Mature

M - Mature: These games are not for children and are suited more for ages 17 and older. The game may have intense violence, blood, gore, sexual subject matter, and/or strong language.

AO - Adults Only

This is not the official icon. There are no Game Boy titles with this rating.

AO (Adults Only): These games are for persons 18 years and older only. The game may contain intense violence and/or strong sexual content and nudity.

RP - Rating Pending

RP (Rating Pending): This means the game has been submitted to the ESRB and is pending review. This rating only appears on advertising before the release of the game.