Prompted by Judd's Maid thread, particularly some of Andy's posts, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the issue of applying ratings (like the ESRP or whatever the one for movies is called).
Now, I don't see the need for standardized ratings, and in fact I think they're a bad idea. We can do this as actual communication from author to reader, rather than through some system that's eventually going to have a breakdown (not to mention the sort of arguments posited by Frank Miller about how putting ratings on your books is evil and stupid in the long run as it makes you submissive to the ratings board and stuff or something).
I also don't think that this sort of thing ought to be required of an author/designer. It's up to, y'know, parents to keep inappropriate material out of their children's hands, so the whole argument of "kids might get a hold of this, THINK OF THE CHILDREN" holds no water for me (seriously, I knew plenty of kids in elementary school who had porno mags. Ratings and minimum ages for purchase don't work for that purpose). But I do think that it can be polite to use ratings.
For instance, Poison'd says "For adults, please," on the cover, and as soon as you crack it open you find out why. That works for me.
I can talk about one of mine, the in-development MADCorp. I'm gonna be stamping on the cover, RATED 'M' FOR "MOTHER" (as in "may offend your"), as well as a disclaimer inside the cover. That rating is both a joke and an honest assessment of the game's content. It has repeated references to drug abuse, murder, criminal insanity, cannibalism, and dead-end jobs, all treated with a tone of gleeful "fuck you" abandon with plenty of profanity. It includes sentences like, "If you spike your hair with the blood of the innocent, you get +1 to your dark powers" and "Yes, kids, drugs are the answer." I don't even want to show it to my mother.
So, yeah. Any other thoughts on this?