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CERO - Japan's Computer Entertainment Rating Organization System Explained Print E-mail
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Monday, 05 November 2007

[OpEd]

 In the spring of last year Japan relaunched CERO , the videogame rating system for the country. The ratings are a simple 5-step one letter system that is easy to understand even if you don't speak or read Japanese. Of course due to cultural differences on what is acceptable these generally do not translate directly from system to system. If you don't speak Japanese but want to know a rating then go directly to this page on their site and you should be able to figure it out.

 Many games have left Japan where they received a rating of A or B and turned up on the shores of the other major markets with ratings a step or even two above. There are just some things that are acceptable in some cultures but not in others. Being aware of these facts is called cultural awareness and if you are considering importing games you should be aware of these differences. If you are living in an area with a culture very different from your own, e.g. Germans living in Japan, Japanese living in the UK, Americans living anywhere that is not America, you need to be culturally aware. The entire world is not a homogeneous place and there are huge variations in opinions. Yes, even in video game ratings. So pay attention because a game rated A by CERO, such as Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne could be rated M for Mature by the ESRB and that would make a huge difference to your ingrained sensibilities.

The A for All Ages is equivalent to the lowest levels of the other major rating systems, E for Everyone to E10+ in ESRB and 3+ to 10+ in PEGI. Basically there is nothing in the game that could be seen as offensive to the majority of parents or harmful to children. It is essentially a G rating for a film. The A rating will have a black box around it

The B rating means there is content in the game that is not suitable to children younger than 12 years old. Slightly below the ESRB's Teen (13+) and the same as the PEGI 12+. Content in this game would not be suitable for pre-teens. Teens in Japan and teens in other parts of the world are similar in many things but the cultures they come from are drastically different and so this rating may not be what you consider 'appropriate' for your children. The B rating will have a green box around it

The C rating means there is content in the game that is not suitable for children under 15 years old. Most likely it contains some violence, maybe even some suggestive situations. Perhaps given the differences between Japan and say America, this game might even rate a Mature and include some strong language and depictions of sexual acts although probably not graphic representations of such. The C rating will have a dark blue box around it

The D rating is of course the next in line and far from being a failing grade on an exam it is simple the denotation that the content in a game is not suitable for those younger than 17 years old and considering this is the Japanese system of ratings, that's really saying something. The game is likely to have some serious situations that you would not want your underage children to witness. You yourself may even not want to witness some of them. Having been a fan of Japanese animation now for some 20 years I can say that I have seen some shows that were aimed at children in the Japanese market but when they made the jump across the pond they also had a ratings jump. Classic examples of this are anything that shows up on Adult Swim because much of it, when shown in Japan, is not as restricted time or age-wise. The D rating will have a orange box around it

Finally we come to..no not E but Z. The end of the line so to speak. This is akin to the AO rating in America except that in Japan a game with a Z rating is not freely available and the sale of such games is regulated by the government, something I am certain some censorship pro politicians and certain lawyers in America would like to see no doubt. But again the cultures are different and so what is acceptable in Japan would not be in America and vice-versa. It is a good way to take the blame off of the vendors and the gamemakers, but I'm curious where are games with a Z rating sold? Are there government shops where you can go and get all the ADULT ONLY stuff? We need a correspondent in Japan to fill us in. The Z rating will have a red box around it and the government will be watching.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 November 2007 )

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