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Computer Entertainment Rating Organization

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Computer Entertainment Rating Organization
Japanese gamers have ZERO tolerance for CERO's censorship.
Type: Nonprofit organization
Founded: 2002
Founder(s): Kazuya Watanabe
Headquarters: Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Key people: Kazuya Watanabe (president)
Parent: Government of Japan

The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), is a Japanese non-profit video game rating system organization founded by Kazuya Wantabe, serving as the official rating organization of Japan.

Founded as the Japanese counterpart of the ESRB, CERO has enforced their rating system based on in-game contents. The symbols that CERO uses are stylized Latin letters, named after academic grading, except "F" is replaced with "Z". Each is meant to convey a game's suitability for minors. "CERO rating marks" are grouped broadly into "age classification marks" and "other marks", ranked from "A" that stands for a game suitable for all ages (compareable to "E" rating in ESRB) to "Z" that stands for an adult-only game (compareable to "AO" rating in ESRB). The sale of "Z" rated games is restricted to persons aged 18 and above.

When it comes to non-Japanese games, in case that CERO deems any contents in the game "not suitable" for their registration, CERO has the power to order the game publisher to send the game to a local Japanese publisher to undergo censorship by removing all contents deemed not suitable and have the censored version of the game being published by said local publisher.

In spite of the name, CERO does not rate PC games published in Japan[1]; instead, a different organization called the Ethics Organization of Computer Software does the job. Not only that, EOCS's policies are way more lenient than CERO's.

Why It Should Be ZERO

CERO rating system in a nutshell.
  1. Highest holiness of hypocrisy: Their censorship laws are way too strict, since the country it was founded in allows much graphic and sexual content to be shown (although being censored due to a controversial "Article 164" from the Meiji constitution that effectively censored all pornography content).
  2. They caused games like Dead Space, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the Mortal Kombat franchise, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Manhunt to be censored, not released, or banned in Japan, even though the former third was made there.
    • Japan still allows them since they made and localized shows, movies, and anime with same and/or worse content. CERO won't allow them to localize nor release the games and uncensored versions on their blacklist.
  3. They force developers to censor indecent nudity such as exposed breasts, extreme violence (specifically human dismemberment), sex scenes and decapitation and makes Japan look like hypocrites since Japan allows PC games, films, shows, anime and books to have any of those material mentioned.
    • Also, even at a Z (18+) rating , it still gets censored.
  4. Their age ratings are also inconsistent such as when they gave both Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie a B (12) rating (Xbox 360), yet they gave Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne (PS2) an A (all ages) rating, even though the latter has more mature content.
    • Another example is the Mario & the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Super Mario Odyssey got a B rating (the first in the entire Mario franchise) while all Super Smash Bros. games and Mario Strikers Charged have gotten an A.
    • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact was given a B rating while all the Naruto: Clash of Ninja games and the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja games up to Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations were given an A rating.
    • Destroy All Humans! original was given a C(15+) while the remake is rated Z(18+ only).
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was given a D rating while the sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair was given a C.
  5. They also make many developers paranoid and cause them to censor to give the game a lower rating, for example, Square-Enix was concerned that Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King on 3DS would be B (the PS2 version was A) and that's how Dragon Quest VIII was censored which the censored material was revealing outfits for the character Jessica Albert.
  6. They gave the Infamous games a Z (18 only) rating which is very harsh since they're rated T, M and 16 by ESRB, ACB and PEGI respectively. The Destroy All Humans! remake is also rated Z by CERO, even though it is rated T by the ESRB.
    • Another example is The Sims series, which got a C rating while it got a T (ESRB), 12 (PEGI) and M (ACB).
    • Sly Cooper series got a B while it got an E (the first two games) and E10+ (ESRB), 7 (PEGI) and PG (ACB).
    • Almost all Lego games are rated B while it's rated for all ages by other boards, with the exception of USK (German rating board) which gives some LEGO games a 12 and some 7-rated games a 12.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is rated B. It's rated for all ages by ESRB, PEGI and majority of other boards. Though, it could be due to the fact that you can steal from the shop, which would count as "Crime" on the rating.
    • Burnout 1, 2, 3, Revenge, Legends, Dominator and Paradise were rated B, even though they have gotten an E, E10+, and a T by the ESRB, and a 3+ and 7+ from the PEGI, even though the first two entries did not have much vehicular violence as the later entries
  7. Their reason to give games a Z rating because of gore and high level crime is pointless because anime like Elfen Lied and Gantz on AT-X got an R-15 and crime anime/with crime themes like Lupin the 3rd, Black Lagoon and Cowboy Bebop are given ratings lower than a Z rating.
    • Similarly, they don't allow nudity, sex scenes and extreme violence in games rated by them even though many animes, shows and films contain as much as, if not even more of said contents.
  8. The reason why they're infamous for their strict rules is due to a 1997 murder case known as the Kobe child murders which after the case Japanese politician Shizuka Kamei blamed violent media and adults for the event.
  9. CERO always applies very few content icons (コンテンツアイコン) to Z-rated games like Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2, despite that some of them have more than just bloody and gory violence with high intensity, which makes CERO even less informative than the ESRB and PEGI.
    • In addition, CERO's content icons can be confusing, as the icons are all the same regardless of each of the contents' intensity and impact. This contrasts with many other rating systems, which mostly specify the intensity of the content provided (e.g. "Mild Language", "Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence", "Moderate science fiction violence").
  10. Since about 2013, CERO's policies have gotten stricter in content for an A (All Ages) rating. Basically, any hint of a "criminal act" will be an automatic B rating (Which is why games like Super Mario Odyssey, Sly Cooper series and the Lego games received this rating and a "crime" icon).
    • Apparently, they never care about context since the "violent" and "criminal" acts in those games are all justifiable, like saving someone or the world.
  11. Since the PS3 and Vita digital stores no longer accept credit cards nor PayPal payments (but rather as prepaid cards), Z (18+) ratings games and DLCs are no longer eligible purchase on their digital stores ended up with the same result of unable to get an 18+ rating game without verifying with customer's credit card payment. [2]

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Unlike the ESRB, the CERO actually displays the minimum recommended or required age in its rating icons, although they are in Japanese and are listed at the bottom.
  2. The CERO, like the ACB, also displays its own rating icons on the side of a game's physical storage case, making them appear on all sides of the case as opposed to just the front and rear.
  3. Prior to its overhauled system in 2006, CERO's ratings actually denoted the minimum recommended or required age in their respective icons (except for "All Ages"), making them more specific and straightforward than the ESRB's ratings.


  • Not all games released in Japan utilize their rating system, as some instead use the IARC international rating system, which as of recently with some PEGI games, has been self-assigned by the developer.



  1. Game consoles are actually computers at the most technical level, but their main use is solely for entertainment; whereas PCs' use is more diverse, and not just for entertainment.


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