The Entertainment Software Rating Board has published their rating for Halo 5: Guardians and for the first time a Halo FPS has received a Teen rating as opposed to the Mature rating that the previous titles have received. If you review the various news stories on the topic, or the <shudder> comment sections, you’ll notice that this has created a general feeling of “Meh” throughout the gaming world. However, there are a few outliers that seem to have a real problem with this.
It’s strange because most are shocked to realize that previous Halo games were rated M to begin with. To be sure, while Halo is certainly a shooter, and has all the things that go with that, science fiction violence tends to be given more allowances than the more realistic shooters. Killing people is significantly worse than killing aliens. Change the blood splatter from red to blue and you’re covered.
Most feel that the rating shift has more to do with changing perspectives at the ESRB as opposed to Halo 5 being in any way a “less mature” title (though we’ll have to see the finished game to know for certain). This seems to be the more likely case. All in all, this seems like a correction if anything. The ESRB isn’t going to go back and re-rate previous games, so all they can do is make modifications to their policies now.
But here’s the thing, ratings are only meant to be guidelines. They’re based on opinions and such there is certainly going to be some variation between people’s opinions. Even if there is a noticeable reduction in red blood or language, why is it important? We are repeatedly told that gameplay is what matters and that excessive violence is not a problem. Well, then let’s call this a proof of concept.