Home > Editorial > “Religious Post of the Day” or “Scattered Thoughts on Islamic Ratings for Video Games”

“Religious Post of the Day” or “Scattered Thoughts on Islamic Ratings for Video Games”

Don’t panic, this isn’t really a religious post! The Iran National Foundation of Computer Games (INFCG), which stirred some controversy last year by introducing “Islamic Games”, is at it again. This time, they have introduced a parallel system to the ESRB, originally titles ESRA, or Entertainment Software Rating Association, and much like the ESRB, the ERSA is completely voluntary. A studio does not have to subject itself to ESRA ratings, but can participate willingly by sending in their titles. A small part of me thinks that this is a brilliant ploy by someone in the INFCG to get free video games for life!

At first sight all this seems a little strange. I mean why introduce a new ratings system when near-universal systems are already in place. But then you have to realize that there are nearly 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, approximately a quarter of the total population of the world. While institutions like the ESRB and PEGI are universally recognized, it must be said that the term “universal” applies, in principle, to the western hemisphere, specifically the US., Canada, and Europe at large. Muslims represent a significant portion of these countries and territories, but the bulk of the Muslim world resides in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Like most religions, Islam has its own sensibilities and cultural norms, grotesque and distorted interpretations of which have been vigorously abused by extremist factions, and rigorously touted by the media. It is important not just to recognize these differing ideologies, but to try an incorporate them into the mainstream.

“The approach of Islam is based on human being innateness ‘Al Fitra,’ and the most important innate trends are truth, virtue, benevolence, excellence tendency, innovation and creativity. That’s why we made sure that ESRA team are proficient in these areas: Religion, psychopathology, educational psychology, social psychology, sociology of the family, family sociology, emotional psychology, family therapy and educational technology.”

– Dr. Behrouz Minaei, managing director at the Iran National Foundation of Computer Games

Seems innocent enough, but I am not convinced either way. On one hand, I feel that it is important for these ratings to take the sensibilities of other faiths and groups into their frame of reference, and to bring out a better global dialogue about the responsibilities of parenthood as it applies to the electronic medium. On the other hand, this could be the beginning of an avalanche of newer systems of ratings and guidelines around the world.

The Buddhist Zen Ratings Bureau.

The Council for Underage Gaming Practices.

The Electronic Games Communist Propaganda Watch.

Yes I know that last one sounds far-fetched. But really, how much longer before the gaming industry realizes it needs one central authority for ratings its games, which may be further broken down by region or religion?

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Categories: Editorial
  1. December 2, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I don’t see any harm in it – clearly Islamic ethics are very different from Western. I can see several games getting rated up in Iran for having immodestly dressed women for example. Brewfest might be another thorny issue.

    I don’t think it makes sense to have a central ratings authority for games as we don’t have a central authority for morals telling us what’s right or what’s wrong. As games become more established in world culture it is only natural that different cultures will try to ensure they conform with local standards.

    Put it this way – I wouldn’t want a single central ratings authority if it were Muslim since I don’t want to be subjected to their standards. So I don’t see why I should expect to impose my standards on them.

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