ESRB's censorship wound re-opened, user-made content to break the ratings system

In an article published today titled "The Breasts that Broke the Game", The Escapist re-visits a bit of news that should have caused a commotion but barely grabbed our attention. In April of last year, the ESRB changed the rating of Oblivion from "T" to "M", citing newly-discovered gore and violence as well as a user-made mod that made all the female characters topless. Bethesda crafted the perfect response, agreeing to comply with the ratings upgrade but reminding everyone it has no control over third-party creations.

The mod was created because a woman named Maeyanie hated "government/society/whatever forcing companies to 'protect our innocent population from seeing those evil dirty things 50% of them possess personally anyways'". The Escapist points out that the mod was tame, featuring little more than Barbie doll-style nudity, yet the ESRB still flipped out.

User-made content is fast becoming the focus of videogames (see Spore, LittleBigPlanet, The Sims), and with that will come an influx of sex-related creations. How should the ESRB respond? With a new ratings category ("W" for "We're not responsible")? Slapping an "M" on every game that gives you an iota of customization control?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.