The ESRB Website Council (EWC) is a program established in October 2010 that commits gaming websites to “agree to several guidelines pertaining primarily to the display of ESRB rating information and use of age-gates on trailers for Mature-rated games.” Basically, it’s an agreement that websites use to to enforce the guidelines set forth from the ESRB that protects the appropriateness of content that visitors can view. For example, if a visitor has an account setup with their age as 16 or below, then they cannot access videos of M-rated content. Alternatively, if a visitor is viewing without an account, they will need to enter their birth-date.
Here is a summary of the Code of Conduct as seen on the website.
- Displaying accurate and current ESRB rating information on main product pages;
- Employing age-gates on video content associated with games rated or anticipated to be rated M (Mature) that restrict access to visitors under the age of seventeen;
- Ensuring that age-gates are both “age-neutral” (i.e., don’t hint at the age threshold for access) and incorporate an FTC-recognized method for preventing circumvention (i.e., dropping a session cookie to prevent a user from going back and entering a different birth date); and
- Training all appropriate site managers, producers and/or other employees so that they are aware of the general policies and procedures adopted in this Code.