For those of you out there who don't know what it is, ESRB stands for Entertainment Software Rating Board. They're an organization whose purpose is to review the games coming out under strict procedures. The determine which age range a game is best targeted for.
They're the ones who decide if a game is "E for Everyone" or not.
ESRB enforcement at a retailer level is currently voluntary... but if I sell an M rated game to a kid under 17 I'll be fired on the spot. I had to turn away a kid whose birthday wasn't for 2 days. It sucked for him, and it sucked for me because I couldn't [and wouldn't] just bend the rules my workplace runs under.
The thing is, I believe in the ESRB ratings... generally. I think they're more accurately placed on the games than the MPAA to Movies. I do my best to make certain parents who come in and are buying games are aware of the content in the games they buy. I've lost a lot of sales that way, but I'd rather not have a 8 year old kid play games that aren't targeted to him. Developers create games with a target audience in mind, and an 8 year old doesn't fall in the 28-34 year demographic... his/her parents do.
To the parents out there who don't care: Please, PLEASE DO care just a little more than you do... parents I've dealt with seem constantly surprised when I describe the sorts of things you can do in games like Grand Theft Auto. Don't give in to a pouting, self-entitled child. You're the parent, so BE the parent and be involved in your child's life. To all you parents who watch what their kids play then set and enforce restrictions, thank you for monitoring your kids and giving a crud about what they play. You make my job easier, because I don't have to bear scornful glares from kids who try their best to convince me they can handle the M rated games like an adult and I have to turn them away. Games are a form of entertainment and distraction but they're no substitute for real interaction.