ESRB rating question

I’m making a pc game and I’d like to keep it rated E. It’s all about racing vehicles and it’s meant for all ages. Now my issue is this; in the characters’ homebase there’s an arcade system that he/she can sit down, relax and play some videogames. The videogame itself is a cartoonishly designed space battle similar to this

and similar in scale to this

I won’t use real weapons or intensely realistic lasers, I will use orbs and cartoony looking items with cartoon shading. The ship deaths will be cartoony and non realistic as well, no huge fireball explosions like Star Citizen but dissolving sci-fi cartoon effects. The question is will I be able to keep it at an E rating if there’s a massive cartoony space battle or will it move the game up to teen?

(edit I considered it and most will probably agree it’s going to get a teen rating. There are bad guys and the good guy will have to try to take them out. The themes are a bit too mature for little kids I think, good vs. evil kind of thing, what do you guys think?).

ESRB rating is only relevant if you are doing a retail release for consoles. If it’s implied no one dies or is hurt, it should be easy to get an E rating, so have escape pods or capsules that survive explosions that protect people.

I don’t want anyone to die in the game for the most part, well… At the very end of the game the main character may die in one of the questlines when he/she crashes his/her ship, any form of death makes it above E? Eventually I’d like to take it to console if I can. Disney has tons of people dying and they get G ratings somehow. Mario jumps on Goomba’s heads and kills Bowser every game too.

Death isn’t an automatic rating bump, mild/cartoon violence is fine. Although you’d probably want to minimize how often it’s implied that someone dies from a ship exploding, having a bunch of side characters die in battle is likely going to bump up the rating. It’s also more acceptable to let bad guys die than good guys, that’s why thousands of goombas are stomped and it’s okay. Especially if they aren’t human (aka monster, robot, alien, zombie, etc). But Bowser never actually dies, he always comes back.

It would only be one death, but it won’t even be a real explosion. It’ll be cartoony sci-fi retro effect like Tron or something similar at the very end of the game so only one death the entire game. No side characters dying in battle. The battles will be virtual, meaning they are in a videogame inside the videogame with no characters in the ships.

I wouldn’t bother with the ESRB rating unless you intend to somehow do physical distribution through a retail chain. For a download product you just have to fill out a questionaire to get a rating and they will be more concerned about microtransactions and online interaction than content. If your game connects to the internet or has microtransactions you won’t likely get an E rating. They are not going to play your game or even look at a video. They will issue a rating based on your answers to their form and maybe, not likely, but maybe your game will get audited months after release. Also, not sure about this, but you may have to pay for a rating on PC. I know they started a free rating service for digital distribution but AFAIK it only applies to walled garden services like Playstation, XBox and Nintendo that have a qualification process for every game they distribute. PC is a free for all even with Steam.

If you get picked up for console, the publisher/platform holder will help you with the ESRB process.