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M for Mature. Of all the competing moral compasses for gaming, it’s only ESRB’s that has made it into the pop culture lexicon. But it can be expensive for developers to get that letter plastered onto their box, and the rise of indie has seen the US rating system become an optional extra for downloadable titles.

That’s something the ESRB hope to change with their new system - a free questionnaire designed to assess your game’s nastiest excesses and provide an official rating.

"By simplifying the process and eliminating the cost to developers, the ESRB expects to broaden adoption of its ratings among game providers of all types," said an ESRB rep, noticed by MCV.

"The resulting ubiquity of ESRB ratings will ease a parent's job by presenting a single ratings standard across the many platforms on which their children access games. Increased adoption of ESRB ratings also means that developers will no longer be subject to differing and oftentimes conflicting rating systems and standards for their digitally delivered games."

The idea’s not dissimilar to the system used by the UK’s official arbiters, PEGI. It could mean a world of difference to parents trying to decide whether Cube World, say, is suitable fodder for their nipper.

What formative games might have slipped beyond your reach, if not for a family-friendly rating on the box?

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