Penny Arcade ads for ESRB unveiled

Web-comic creators design new campaign to convey to gamers how the ratings system affects them.

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Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik and writer Jerry Holkins last week revealed their participation with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board on an advertising campaign directed squarely at gamers. Today the ESRB officially announced the campaign, which will consist of five print ads set to roll out during the summer months, each featuring new characters created by Holkins and Krahulik that will correspond to a specific rating.

"In order for the campaign to resonate with the gamer audience, we sought to have a little 'edge' to the creative," said ESRB president Patricia Vance, "and let's face it, Penny Arcade comics give a whole new meaning to the term 'comic mischief!'"

Penny Arcade has plenty of "edge" to lend, having previously run strips that would likely fall into the M for Mature or even AO for Adults Only brackets of the ESRB's rating spectrum. Past strips have featured characters speculating on the possible incestuous antics of Saturday-morning cartoon stars, a robot that exists to crudely violate produce in a most suggestive way, and protagonists that have been known to kill each other in cold blood, with no resulting portrayal of real-world repercussions.

The ESRB ads will not make use of Penny Arcade's existing stable of characters, choosing instead to focus on original characters designed by the comic's creators. The first two ads (pictured) will depict E-rated audiences with Sarah, a pink-haired girl "around age seven or eight," and The Andersons, a father-and-son pair enjoying a game together.

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