The ESRB is never really on the right side of issues, but when they forced “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” to change their rating from “Teen” to “Mature”, they took a step in the wrong direction.
They made the change based on two criteria. The first is that they say Bethesda Softworks under reported the gore that was in the game. Bethesda disagrees with that characterizatoin. The second of the criteria is more of a problem. A third party mod is available that allows users to modify the graphics used in the game, so that female characters appear topless. THis is not analogous to the “Hot Coffee” mod that got Take Two into trouble last year with GTA. In that case the mod unlocked content that was contained on the CD. In this case, the mod merely allows graphics files to be modified. There is nothing in the game itself that has anything to do with this. In adition, this is only possible on the PC version of the game.
While the ESRB has a thankless job, they need to separate what is actually sold versus what a user can do with it once they own it. I think their claim that the gore was underreported was merely a smokescreen used so that the mod was not the only reason for the change. Bethesda is not going to contest the change or modify the game to keep the “Teen” rating, but they do not agree with the change either.
Posted by Jeff