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CERO - Japan's Content Descriptors Explained Print E-mail
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Monday, 05 November 2007


The Japanese have, in addition to the 5-tier age rating system, a batch of content descriptors so you know exactly what is in the games in case you again don't speak or read Japanese very well. Of course just talking about these things is slightly boring so I tried to make them interesting. Let the fun begin!

Knowing full well the power of Love the Japanese (and Huey Lewis) have decided to warn you against the fact that it might be included in a game. If you ever saw the anime series Tenchi you too would know full well how dangerous love can really be. Personally I attempt to avoid it at all costs as it can be deadly if handled by an untrained or unskilled individual. This could possibly be the strangest of all content descriptors, ever.

Following on from the emotional kind of love is the physical kind, more commonly referred to as...SEX. If it's in a game you of course want to know about it so that you don't spill your piping hot alcoholic coffee drink down your pants accidentally when the shock of some naked person entering into your field of vision startles you. Yes, I'm being facetious. No, I will not apologize. Sex is a natural and necessary thing. Of course I agree that your 10-year-old probably doesn't need to be exposed (no pun intended) to the overexposure of the human body and all its fluids and movements and what nots. So, if you see this icon, you probably don't want to buy the game for your ultra-religious sister's son. She will probably send you to hell herself. Nor would I want to play this game with my mother (Hi mom) in the room.

It's a tantō Tonto and it is generally used to skewer someone. If you see this icon it means someone will most likely be skewered in the game. Of course Violence comes in all shapes and sizes and might even come in a swift kick to the shin form which is sometimes more painful than a swift punch to the family jewels. Sorry Abe, I know you don't like the term family jewels (it's a Simpsons reference). But this icon could just as well represent the fact that you take a hammer to someone's hand as your cronies hold it down on a table. Really I just wanted to use the word cronies because I feel it just doesn't get enough print time. Whether it be hammer, sword, fist or foot, if it's moving fast toward someone else, it's probably violence and this icon covers it.

Holy Halloween Batman, jeepers creepers, from whose head did you pluck those peepers? Yes that icon is a ghost, no it doesn't mean it's Halloween, it means this game contains some sort of Horror. Of course the term horror is subjective and while some of you might think it involves evil spirits rising up from the grave to take control of your dearly beloved, others might simply see it as a mandatory holiday family dinner. The people at CERO probably mean the prior far more than the latter, though I have seen some horrific family dinners (no Mom, not yours of course). Imagine demons, devils, vampires, torture devices, the massive slimy tentacled head of Cthulhu rising from the deep and you have, no not Christmas dinner with my mom's side of the family, but a classic set of horror mainstays. Sure it's possible it could have been describing dinner at mom's for the family, but (again Hi Mom) that wasn't the intention. Honestly, it's the truth. I can't possibly cross my fingers while typing this.

Have you noticed that as these go on they each get longer and longer. Maybe you've been contemplating taking some sort of sedative or reality-altering narcotic to help you sort through them. Well then you my friend should be totally familiar with this icon which denotes that there is Drug use in a game. So take your favorite narcotic and stick it in your pipe and smoke it because that's exactly what is expected when this icon appears. Of course we all know all drugs aren't smoked, no not from personal experience (just in case Mom actually is reading this) but from hundreds of television shows portraying police busting criminals pushing drugs to everyone in the world. Way to go police! Did I mention my mom works for the police?

Speaking of the police I'm betting that if a game has a drug icon it probably has this one too because many people in many countries believe drugs are Crime. Of course some countries don't think that at all. That's why this icon comes in handy. There are many forms of crime. From simply spraypainting your 'tag' on the wall of the police station to running someone down with your vehicle and all manner of socially unacceptable behavior in between. If I were to go on and on about the types of crime that this icon might cover I would probably be the victim of one of the crimes before I finished. So if it's illegal it probably fits this descriptor.

I bet you have no idea what this icon stands for. No? Well then I won that bet and we were Gambling. Though I have never seen a big bag of money with an actual money symbol on the side (No that's not a mutant Y that's the symbol for the Yen, the Japanese currency). If the game has you wagering currency on the outcome of some situation like a card game or any sporting event then it would have this icon slapped on it. While some other rating systems make a distinction between simulated and real gambling there doesn't seem to be one in Japan.

Shaken not stirred and a big fat Cuban. A cigar, not a guy. Yes this is the icon for the Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. As a matter of fact this article should probably have had this icon prominently displayed at the top of it as I have been using some alcohol while writing it. Of course that wouldn't be very professional of me and could just be me stringing you readers along into thinking I have been drinking hot alcoholic coffee drinks, or not. You will never know and I'm not telling. So if your character is going to light up a smokie treat and tip back a frosty barley pop then you should have seen this icon on the box.

Well sonuva....hey look it's the Language icon. If I were going to say *** or **** or **** then you **** well know that this ******* icon would ******* be displayed on the *** **** ****** ******* box. Of course since I totally ******* forgot to ******* this ******* icon at the very ******* beginning of this article I can't very well say ******* **** ****** *** **** in your ***** **** *** *****. So, I won't. But if you are really clever you should have figured out just what this icon represents already and I don't need to spell it out for you.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 November 2007 )

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