Entertainment Software Rating Association

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Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA)
Industry Organization and rating system
Founded 2007 in Islamic Republic of Iran
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Area served
Key people

Reza Ahmadi
(President, CEO)

Seyed Mohammad Ali Seyed Hosseini
Website www.esra.org

The Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA)[1] is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings in Iran.[2][3][4][5][6][7] The system was established in 2007 by the Iran National Foundation of Computer Games[8][9] and has the status of a research project.[10][11][12] ESRA principle, the result of a one-year investigation and research on different harmful content of computer games from three aspects of sociology, psychology, and Islamic teachings, launched its rating system in 2009 in five categories of 3+, 7+, 12+, 15+ and 18+ years of age.[13][14] ESRA researching approaches based on Psychology or the cognitive behavior, Sociology, the science of community and human’s interaction and Religion.The contents are designed based on the culture, society and the special values of Iran. Macro, micro and analysis were two important bases in defining contents. After some level of changes in designing the contents, 187 contents in the form of 8 main criteria were extracted.[15]


After the establishment of the National Institute of Games, creating the best model for optimal use of video games became the main goal of the ESRA.[16][17][18] The ESRA aimed to take advantage of the power and effectiveness of educational games while avoiding potential mental distress and damages caused by their inappropriate use. The main reasons that the ESRA was established:

  • The lack of a suitable model for using video games.
  • Concerns of parents regarding violence, horror, and sexual content in video games.
  • Psychological and social damages caused by inappropriate use of video games.
  • The lack of sufficient knowledge about harmful effects of video games.
  • Lack of accurate information for parents about video games.

ESRA, Ratings and Symbols

The ESRA began rating video games in 2009, giving consideration to different aspects of the games such as psychology, sociology, and religion. The ESRA rating system was designed with the collaboration of over 20 experts and academic codifications to achieve the best accuracy possible in rating video games. The ESRA uses the following symbols to indicate video game suitability:[19]

Video Game rating Systems
Rating Description Logo
+3 Suitable for All Ages Plus3EsraRating.png
+7 Suitable for Ages Over 7 years old. (Childhood) ESRA 7.png
+12 Suitable for Ages Over 12 years old. (Early adolescence) Plus12EsraRating.png
+15 Suitable for Ages Over 15 years old. (Late adolescence) Plus15EsraRating.png
+18 Suitable for Ages Over 18 years old. (Adults, most likely single) Plus18EsraRating.png

One of the most important reasons of the observed necessity for ESRA principle is the lack of a proper pattern of use for computer games and the negative physical and mental effects of computer games caused by misuse and the concern of parents regarding such issues due to their lack of information about the improper and inappropriate content of such games.[20]

ESRA has 7 main criteria which consist of 187 sub-categories
criteria Description
Violence It is the display of a behavior to harm someone. It ranges from destroying the assets and making the unanimated out of order, shouting with violence, fighting physically, any sort of physical or mental injury to taking the life of an animated creature. ESRAContent.png
Tobacco and drug Watching the use of drug and tobacco in games can lose the internal-social taboo of not using it for the addresses. This kind of behavior, when done by the protagonist is much more harmful. Losing this taboo can be considered as a serious harm.
Sexual stimuli Sexual diversity, sexuality out of social norms, religious comments like the Anti-homosexuality and rape from one side and nudity or semi nudity and suasive behaviors in games can end to the social and physical harms related to the sexual needs of the addressees and his /her social situations.
Fear This internal feeling in different ages leads to chronic stress, stuttering in kids, cardio respiratory diseases, pessimism and conservative behaviors in social atmosphere.
Religious values violation The violation of religious values is in accord with the Islamic principles. Four of the important elements are:
  1. The violation of the basic principles or religious believes (the display of the heaven or hell),
  2. Inattention to religious comments (boozing and gambling),
  3. Sacrilege to the prophet and their followers (belittling or discriminating between the Muslims and the rest)
  4. Sacrilege to the holy places (mosque, church)
Social norms violation Using the vulgar words and the improper behaviors which lead to breaking the social norms are amongst the social harms that computer games brings for the kids and the adolescents. Also creating an atmosphere for the mental and physics experience of abusing behaviors can end to the characteristics and social disorders.
Hopelessness This content in games is related to a kind of feeling:
  1. When the gamer have to do or not to do something against his will, which makes him/her feel sinful.
  2. The gamer feels despaired and disturbed in the game in a way that he/she has no favorable goal. Or the gamer finds the goal he/ she try to catch, vain and meaningless at the end of the game.
  3. The deep feeling of sorrow the gamer experiences due to the death of a lovable character.

ESRA, Studies and Researches

In addition to controlling the content of video games, the ESRA has conducted research on the subject. Some of this research includes:

  • A qualitative analysis of the content in horror games: In this study, four popular horror genre video games (Dead Space, F.E.A.R 2, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Silent Hill 5) were studied to determine the techniques these video games used and the components they incorporated to elicit fear from their audience. The theoretical framework of the study was based on the opinions of psychologists and experts on the horror genre.
  • An analysis of the lifestyle presented in The Sims video game: These were case studies of The Sims 3 and the lifestyle it presents. In this study, theories of cultural imperialism, ideology and hegemony were used. The extracted patterns of life in The Sims 3 indicate that this game is promoting the American lifestyle.
  • Content analysis of 40 popular characters in computer games: In this study, quantitative content analysis techniques were used. Forty famous characters confirmed reputable by gamers in the National Foundation of Computer Games in video games were selected. These characters were compared with each other in three aspects: their appearance, character traits and psychological environment.
  • Classification of video game characters: This study identifies different types of characters that are often used in video games. The characters are classified in two general terms: Race and Class.
  • An analysis about the rules and regulations of the ESRA rating system: In a recent scientific study Stefan Piasecki and Setareh Malekpour analyzed the rules and regulations of the ESRA rating system and compared them to those of other leading rating systems (German USK - Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, est. 1994 and the international IARC system - International Age Rating Coalition, est. 2013), pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of the Iranian system. While ratings of Germany's USK are based on decisions of so called "rating commissions" (consisting of media experts and other representatives or social groups) game developers use IARC's online questionnaires in order to compute the rating for different regions, based on their own input. ESRA's decisions however are rooted in fixed rules and categories which are based on Islamic scriptures. Due to the ever expanding games market and new types of games emerging on various platforms these categories need to be expanded and renewed from time to time. ESRA's general manager can finally accept or reject a rating, thus embodying a final level of decision. This lets Iran's ESRA system appear as an interesting kind of hybrid between already existing and proven systems.[21]


  1. ^ Alexander, Leigh. "Middle East's Game Industry Creates Islam-Centric Game Ratings". Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  2. ^ "ESRA | Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation". en.ircg.ir. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  3. ^ "New Game Rating System for Islamic Values". gaming.do.co.za. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Video Game Content Rating System Flashcards | Quizlet". quizlet.com. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  5. ^ S.v, Shariat; A, Asad Elahpour; N, Ali Rezaei; Z, Bashar Danesh; B, Birashk; M, Tehrani Doust; B, Jalili; Elaheh, Hejazi; M, Hakim Shoushtari (2009-01-01). "AGE RATING OF COMPUTER GAMES FROM A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE: A DELFI STUDY". 11 (242): 8–18. 
  6. ^ "Iran joining Entertainment Software Rating Board". 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  7. ^ "Content Rating System". Scribd. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  8. ^ "Entertainment Software Rating Association – Retro CDN". retrocdn.net. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  9. ^ "Islamic Video Game Rating System Launched at Dubai World Game Expo | IslamToday – English". en.islamtoday.net. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  10. ^ Chiaramonte, Perry (2016-06-07). "Tehran blocks sale of video game depicting Iran's 1979 revolution | Fox News". Retrieved 2016-07-16. 
  11. ^ "Islamic system will rate video games | The National". Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  12. ^ Newbould, Chris. "Islamic video game rating system launched | DigitalProductionME.com". www.digitalproductionme.com. Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  13. ^ Caoili, Eric. "Iran Sets Up ESRA Game Ratings, ESRB Denies Link". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  14. ^ "ESRA (Entertainment Software Rating Association)". Iran National Foundation of Computer Game. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Hosseini, Mir Masood. "Iran's gaming market, an overview part II". parseed.ir. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  16. ^ http://www.basemedia.com.au/. "Entertainment Software Rating Association (ESRA)". Console Database. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  17. ^ "Islamic Game Rating System Announced". Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  18. ^ "Iran Bans Pokemon Go Over Security Concerns". www.irdiplomacy.ir. Retrieved 2016-08-22. 
  19. ^ Entertainment Software Rating Association homepage. . URL:http://esra.org.ir/. Accessed: 2013-08-05. (Archived by WebCite® at https://www.webcitation.org/6IetATzbf). Click on rating icons in the bottom left-hand corner.
  20. ^ "ESRA | Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation". en.ircg.ir. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  21. ^ Malekpour , Setareh/ Piasecki, Stefan (2016): Morality and Religion as factors in Age Rating Computer and Video Games: ESRA, the Iranian Games Age Rating System. Online - Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet Volume 11 (2016). URL: http://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/religions/article/viewFile/23632/17357

External links

  • Official website
  • Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation
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