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What bothers me most about the rating system on games is that it's inconsistent.
Take, as an example, FF7 and FF8. They were both rated T, but for different reasons. I'm not going to argue that the ratings were right or wrong, but simply that the reasons listed on the back of the box were inappropriate for each game when compared with the other.
FF8's box says "mild language." FF7's box says nothing about obscenities. If the executives who rated these things thought FF8's language was enough to merit a warning, they ought to have put "strong language" on FF7. When someone curses in FF8, it's because they're extraordinarily angry, whereas Cid and Barret curse gratuitously and frequently.
FF7's box states that it has "realistic violence," FF8's "animated violence." In my opinion, they both contain animated, rather than realistic, violence. What made the difference? A trail of blood which, given its width in the overall graphical picture, could have been ketchup or red paint? Or was it the bloodless death of Aeris, a polygonal rendering of what has been called the saddest scene in a Final Fantasy game to date? Keep in mind that both of these scenes were caused by the villain, the one who the gamer's primary goal is to defeat. The only violence dealt by the gamer is against strangely deformed monsters which obviously don't exist. One could take the viewpoint that some bosses, like the Turks, were human-- but there were human bosses in FF8, too, and the graphics were better.
And finally, FF8's box refers to "suggestive themes." FF7's does not. What were those spoony bards thinking?! Does Irvine's possession of a naughty magazine warrant a greater reaction than the Honeybee Inn and Don Corneo?
The ratings of FF7 and FF8 ought to have been switched. Perhaps different people reviewed each one for rating-- but the cause doesn't matter. Obviously, the game rating system is highly inconsistent, at least with regards to telling us why the game deserves its rating. Given that, how can anyone trust what the box tells them?
[Editor's Note: Excellent editorial, excellent analysis, excellent grammar (which I had the right to edit anyway). It has a theme which is clear, and example which is clearer, and, well, it's got a bit of humour thrown in the mix. I'm sorry that some of these comments are short. It's getting late.]
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