Why the ESRB 'Mature Rating' does allow Full Nudity, Which Begs the Question 'Why is it restricted in the U.S.?'

While the EU is given an uncensored version of the game, in regards to nudity, consumers in the US are sold an incomplete experience, as far as I am aware at the time of writing this. My understanding is that this is the result of an ‘issue’ with the ESRB, and yet according my my research and the resources publicly available from the aforementioned organization there should be no ‘issue’ at all.

The ESRB categorizes games by content, each rating containing a certain degree of ‘questionable’ material as they ascend a ladder containing ratings such as E, for ‘Everyone,’ T, for ‘Teens and Older,’ M, for ‘Mature, i.e. 17 and Older,’ and AO, ‘Adults Only, i.e. 18 and Older.’ Many publishers have been threatened by the ESRB with an ‘AO’ rating, which is believed to be a commercial death sentence for the game, especially since most retailers will likely not stock the game for the same reason.

Regardless of the danger posed by an organization that effectively controls content without a viable competitor to provide an alternative viewpoint, each ESRB rating has a number of publicly advertised terms that are themselves defined publicly on their website. Their rating system, based on ‘age appropriateness,’ ‘content descriptors’ and ‘interactive elements,’ has concrete definitions associated with the ‘content descriptors’ in general.

According to the ESRB, Conan: Exiles is rated ‘M,’ and is declared to include the following content: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity, and Use of Alcohol. Even with all these ‘content descriptors,’ the game maintains its ‘Mature’ rating, not slipping into the ‘AO’ category. The topic of this discussion is ‘nudity,’ and my point can be found in the description of Nudity as described by the ESRB itself, lest they contradict themselves. The definition is as follows: ‘Graphic or Prolonged Depictions of Nudity.’

There is little room for debate here, as casual nudity is a far cry from ‘Graphic Sexual Content,’ even as described by the organization. Additionally, it is said that context is taken into account during their rating process, which should have picked up that the nudity in the game is not directly related to ■■■. Even so, after declaring in their own relative definitions of content that such nudity is allowed under the applied ‘content descriptor,’ why is only ‘partial’ nudity allowed on consoles, when even the ESRB does not describe and restrict the rating for having Nudity? It is important to note that the ESRB has a ‘content descriptor’ for ‘Partial Nudity,’ which typically falls under the ‘T’ rating category.

I want to see what others think of this, and would appreciate a legitimate response from someone with the authority to answer my questions, or make a change if they can not justify the lack of nudity in a game that runs servers located in the U.S. where full nudity is allowed.

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It isn’t. Hence the “Mature” rating.

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And there’s your answer. ‘Mature’ may technically allow some level of nudity, but the sh…storm that would result from selling a game with full frontal nudity in the still-puritanical US? Through the roof.


Australia is just as conservative as the US, and there was not even the slightest controversy when Conan Exiles was released here with full nudity and with an MA15+ rating, hell, it had no media coverage whatsoever. I was honestly expecting it to get an R18+ rating here, but it didn’t.

I never understood why the US is completely fine with stocking store shelves with ultra-violent games such as Mortal Kombat, yet are so adamantly against allowing a game to have full frontal nudity on consoles, especially when said game has no sexual content whatsoever.

As for what the MA15+ rating here would be in comparison to ESRB ratings, it would be basically the high end of Teen or low end of Mature. R18+ though would cover from M to AO.

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Certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented. I still remember people flipping out over all the alien side-boob you could see on the “sexbox”. You know, that whole twenty second love scene that you might get after putting in a good thirty or forty hours of playtime choosing a particular dialogue path. Not to mention the poorly rendered coffee shenanigans you could get if you downloaded a particular mod in order to access files that were otherwise inaccessible.

Yeah I’m not saying it makes sense to me either, but it is what it is. It’s not like the characters run around aroused or engage in sexual acts of any sort (unless you download one of “those mods” I suppose). It’s a very innocent “garden of eden” style nudity really (except for the whole hyperviolence bit, but for some reason that’s all fine). Personally my character is only naked in the first thirty seconds of the game, and thereafter only if I intentionally kill myself or log out in a dangerous area, so I’m kinda “meh” about the whole thing.

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Age recommendations (or regulations) are always subject to a lot of interpretation, and publishers tend to err towards the side of caution because at least that way they don’t have to suddenly face a situation where they’re required to withdraw their product.

Personally, having grown up in a culture where mixed-gender saunas are commonplace I’ve never really understood all the fuss about nudity in non-sexual contexts, although I’ve later figured out that many people cannot comprehend the notion of “nudity in a non-sexual context” - to them, all nudity is sexual by default. (I still don’t know how these people bathe, but I can live with the mystery.)

Now, the nudity in Conan Exiles is somewhat sexualized - we have dancers squirming in a sensual fashion, and various seductive emotes - so that’s probably why the game has been tossed into a category for grown-ups. That said, just because the female nipples and pubic hair has been covered up doesn’t really make those actions not sexual. I’ve been repeatedly flabbergasted by prime time TV shows showing rather explicit bed scenes… with underwear on. Is it the nipple that destroys the mental health of our kids - or is it witnessing actions they do not understand?

But. For the legislator and ratings organization, it’s easier to draw a line on somewhere unambiguous. Is a sensual dance in skimpy clothing sexual? Is a bed scene with some clothes on sexual? That’s all up to interpretation. But a nipple either is shown, or not, so it’s easy to say that nipple = bad, no nipple = good.

Any psychologist could tell you that’s utter nonsense (or udder nonsense, as it may be in this case). But moralists have never let facts ruin a good crusade.


Europe’s indifference with nudity while at the same time bordering paranoia when it comes to violence is just as much a mystery to most of us in the U.S. My theory is that it has to do with our relative starting points taken around 250 - 300 years ago.

Speaking in very broad and non-specific terms here, the U.S. was settled by puritans who wanted to get away from the brothels and oppression in England, ultimately fighting a revolution and founding a government on the ideals of empowering the individual. Europe stuck mostly to the feudal system way of thinking, where the individual is of less importance and power remained with the state, but everyone enjoyed some time with the ladies down at the docks. Australia was a penal colony, so you know, “No weapons, no contraband, lights out at 9:00 and NO TALKING!!!”

And then there’s Japan, who, well, I don’t have a firm enough grasp on their history to even try to explain their policy of “Anything goes, just censor the crotch.” :confused:

Anyway, when you consider where everyone was several centuries ago and expand it out to the present day, it starts to paint a picture that somewhat explains everyone’s relative positions on the subject today.

LOL yes, or those scenes where they have ■■■ wrapped in the bedcovers (which end with the inexplicably L-shaped cover, strategically covering the man from the navel down while the woman is covered neck-down) . Seems incredibly impractical - not to mention pointless.

Maybe the old movies where characters would dance or sing together as a metaphor for ■■■ did it better after all? Or my all-time (biblical) favorite: people “knowing” one another (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean?).

Case in point, that three-letter word for “relations” starting with s and ending in x is banned on the forums, but the following are all a-ok:


In Germany Conan Exiles is rated 18+, but this is due to the violence, not the nudity.

Ratings boards are not always representative of the targeted demographics. ESRB was put in place to give the ignorant an educated choice on judging the product in a commercial setting. MPAA does the same thing with film.

MPAA has been around longer and has way more contradictions in ratings. Most films is the 80’s was a bit too graphic for the PG rating and then would qualify for the PG-13 rating, but ratings rarely get changed in film.

Now, you may think that a NC-17 or AO ratings are not that big of a deal, but back in the day the only place you could get games and movies are retailers. If the retailer did not have the confidence or PR clout to carry such products, they would not stock it.

Nintendo has always maintained a less than M rating on all certified products. And in the realm of current consoles, I only know of one title to get a major retailer launch at the AO rating. That was GTA:SA and the moment the rating was changed, who dropped the product? Walmart, Target, and all other retailers that either could not understand the reasoning of the rating change or could not handle the PR of carrying adult containing products.

I think that the rating systems should be a bit more standardized and a lot more consistent. And the method of purchasing movies and games are moving to digital, so stigma of NC-17 or AO should not matter much. However, who knows what the kids will see if parents don’t monitor the credit cards in this day of age.

This is from the standpoint of a PC/PS4 player. Your quoted portion of the definition is satisfied by “prolonged partial nudity,” as the modifier “partial” does not moderate/lessen the Nudity standard. Partial nudity is still nudity, so when you have bare-chested thralls for prolonged phases working at your smith station and your furnace, you have already satisfied the requirements for M vice T standard.

In the US, where I live, full frontal nudity is considered exponentially worse than chest or breast nudity. Full frontal is even worse than Dennis Franz buttocks on network teevee, somehow. :yikes:

Which brings us to the PS4. Since most PS4s are in our living rooms (one of mine is), we as USers often have more “protective” views over what goes over the television screen there. It’s not the same in gamerooms or other places. In the Hallowed Space of Family TV, I believe Sony errs on the side of polite, which then flows to the developers for our region.

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Priorities, huh? :no_mouth:

People seem to conveniently forget that these kids were pressed through a vagina, then were offered nipples for several months (in some cases even years).

Hell, it’s usual in europe and asia to have girl kids run around without a top in the garden etc.

America’s the only place where it’s child abuse to not have a girl wear a top.

I think it has to do with feeling guilt through mental automatic semantic association. Nipples has to automatically mean ■■■ to adults…but to kids. Kids don’t give a crap. Like… At all. There is no mind to “protect”.

Kids are curious. If they see a lady doing something lewd, you jolly well explain in detail, why the lady does that lewd thing.

Kids usually go “but why?” and you say “When you grow boobs/balls, you will feel different. But until then, just know that they are either earning money, or having fun or both.” and trust that your son or daughter isn’t going to be doing the same when they grow up merely out of spite or the power of embarrassment.

If kids go corrupt, it’s not cuz they were exposed to sexuality too early, it was because were exposed to sexuality TOO LATE.

Too many times have I seen young people get pregnant because nobody ever informed them of what a condom is, because you know… sexuality doesn’t exist. It’s the devil’s work.

I really like fathers who outright bring their sons to the gogo-club to “get it out of their systems early.”

It’s incredibly effective and really does wonders to one’s self-esteem. It also polarizes a hetero straight.

I sometimes wonder if gender ambiguity these days is due to the complete and utter lack of sexuality.

(P.s. nothing to do with homosexuality. That is a pre-determined state)

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You’re absolutely right about kids. They don’t feel uncomfortable around sexual themes - they feel uncomfortable around adults who are uncomfortable around sexual themes. If a child sees something sexual, and asks a grown-up about it, and the grown-up doesn’t feel comfortable explaining the matter, the child senses the grown-up’s discomfort but doesn’t understand the reason because the grown-up won’t explain it. This in turn makes the child uncomfortable, and he may associate the feeling with the sexual things he saw. Worst case scenario, the kid’ll start thinking he did something wrong because the grown-up was so upset.

Unfortunately I don’t think Funcom can do much to change attitudes towards sexuality, especially not with a game that contains dismemberment, slavery, cannibalism, worshiping diabolic entities from another dimension and sacrificing human body parts to various deities. When you add some boobage into the mix, it’ll be easy to see it as just another sin among many.

Curiously, as far as I know, none of the other elements I listed have been specifically censored anywhere. It’s just your basic human anatomy, possibly within a context loosely related to activities essential to the continuation of our species, that is an abomination and must be shunned.


I think it’s the phrase “and lead us not into temptation” that is the most misunderstood phrase ever in a prayer.

Watched Supernatural Last night guy has a fellows chest propped open eating his liver and such.Seems alot more gruesome than splashing some one into in a momentary flash of blood in Conan-Exiles. US. evening TV
. Not cable only.

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It is not about too late or too early, That is arbitrary and beholden to each individuals opinion. The Us has chosen for the most part that number is 17/18. but each kid is different in their maturity and ability to comprehend. I would say it would have more to do with social surrounding in general (how adults around the kid act about it) and whether kids are ignored when they are ready to ask questions about it.

There’s also places that go the other direction like Saudi Arabia, where they will quite literally kill you for showing more than your eyes and fashion shows are done with drones instead of women.

OP, you should be petitioning Sony and Microsoft for the change you want. If Funcom could have allowed full nudity on console, they would have. This is not a new topic.

It’s perfectly available on Steam in the United States with full nudity. Everyone in the world that allows full nudity, has it. It’s out of Funcom’s hands.