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Video and Computer Games

The video and computer games industry has a voluntary classification system in place.  The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), issues these classifications.  Most video and computer games released since 1994 contain an ESRB classification.



The ESRB rating consists of two components - the classification which indicates age-suitability; and content descriptors that give more detail about the product in terms of violence, sexual themes, language, and other areas.

ESRB video and computer game classifications were adopted by the Ontario Film Review Board (Board) on March 7, 2005.  Under the Film Classification Act, 2005, and Ontario Regulation 452/05 classification decisions that have been made by the ESRB for video games that are not adult sex films are classifications for the purposes of the Act.  Accordingly, video games that are classified as "Mature" may not be sold, rented or exhibited to a person under the age of 17 and video games that are classified as "Adults Only" may not be sold, rented or exhibited to a person under the age of 18.

Video and computer games not classified by the ESRB are exempt from the provisions of the Film Classification Act, 2005, pursuant to Ontario Regulation 452/05 clause 23(1)(j) unless the game contains a scene or scenes of a type referred to in subsection 23(4) of the Regulation.  Games that are not exempt must be submitted to the Board for screening, and classification prior to being distributed or exhibited.

Persons that distribute or exhibit only video games and no other types of films are not required to be licensed under the Film Classification Act, 2005.

Click here for the It's your Choice brochure that explains film and video game classifications

Entertainment Software Association of Canada - 2009 ESSENTIAL FACTS About the Canadian Computer and Video Game Industry

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