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How can we content control our Arcade?

by Tom | 1st, November 2012

We opened up our online arcade about 11 months ago. The arcade served several purposes:

  • As a proof of concept – HTML5 really is capable of some brilliant games
  • As a promotional tool for Construct 2 to demonstrate its abilities as a game engine
  • As a place for indie game developers to upload their creations and receive feedback from the community – a year ago HTML5 distribution opportunities were a lot rarer than they are now
  • As a way to attract casual gamers to our site to expose them to our brand and product

Its growth in popularity caught us a little off guard. In the last 11 months 1,200 games have been uploaded with a further 1,000 game updates. Over 210,000 unique players have played on our arcade with an estimated total of 1,500,000 game plays.

We’ve always intended for our website to be accessible to people of all ages. The arcade is perhaps something we’ve overlooked – there are some games in the arcade that are arguably not suitable for young children. Every now and then we receive an email from a concerned parent.

We’re also increasingly selling to schools and other educational institutes. We’ve met with a few educators, some of which have expressed their concern that our arcade as it stands may dissuade educational institutes from adoption of Construct 2.

We don’t want to stop people from being able to upload games that aren’t suitable for younger generations as some of these games are quite brilliant! Not only do they help expose the authors as talented game developers they also demonstrate Construct 2’s ability to produce top quality games.

However we do need to reach a compromise. We want our website to be a safe place for all ages to browse and for parents to be confident that Scirra is a safe place to visit.

We’re a very small team; there are currently 3 of us full time at Scirra at the moment (one of which is a full time artist). Moderating and classifying each game is out of the question – we simply do not have enough time to do it to a high, reliable and consistent standard.

There are two steps to this problem:

  1. How can we effectively and reasonably consistently classify games as being suitable for certain ages or not?
  2. Once games are classified, how do we prevent children from playing these games? (Is a simple warning screen enough?)

This is a difficult problem faced by many websites, and we're keen to find the right balance. We're considering ways we can solve this problem, but we also wanted to ask you, our community. How do you think we can best achieve content ratings in a fair and reliable way?

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Comments

3
gillenew 23.4k rep

Uhm, that was good for us to know about the arcade games, thank you.
But, the universe of games creation has never been easy, and the construct2 tool for html5 meets my expectations, so far I have only praise for Construct and Construct Team :D

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 11:57:24 AM
8
RandomExile 12.1k rep

Perhaps a user rating corresponding to the ESRB ratings? Users could easily select the most appropriate category.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:01:19 PM
8
Wolfpaw 1,016 rep

What about a community-rated approach similar to that used for xbox live indie games? Potentially offensive games could then be flagged-up to you for further review and consideration.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:02:34 PM
7
soybean 5,257 rep

how about something like Newgrounds rating system? Whenever a game is submitted, it'll be hold up for review first and only accessible for users with a 'medium to high karma' score. A certain game will be able to see the light of public view when it has a minimum score of rating. Also, each value of rate from users vary depending on their karma score.. or something like that. cmiiw

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:04:09 PM
16
Kyatric 73.2k rep

An idea, right out of the bat: "mature" games (in a large sense unfortunately, it's rather, "games that are not fit for young children") should be listed, but access should only be granted to accounts which turned off a parameter in the profile.
So by default, the parameter in the profile should be on (like "Children protection" or "I am a child" or "I don't want to see inappropriate games") and the "flagged" games would be listed but couldn't be played unless the option is turned off.

The "flag" could be set (in good faith) by the uploader of the game.
Moderators and staff could also have the opportunity to change this flag, and members could be able to see if the game's flag is set accordingly and otherwise report it.

It may be a bit complicated as a method, but perhaps it could help in the current issue.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:04:22 PM
3
tcarita 1,889 rep

A Warning Sign is not enough for sure.

You must classify the games in the Arcade, and if you guys don't have time (i'm sure you don't) you should involve the community and rate the games (a board of selected developers).

[Hyperlink removed - users with less than 500 rep cannot post links]

(esrb . org)
This is the Entertainment Software Rating Board web site and the same method could be applied to the Arcade with that an upgrade to the arcade could be created too to Hide more violent or mature games or enforce registration acceptance and compliance for playing certain games.

My 2 cents
Tiago Carita

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:05:14 PM
5
DeMayunn 3,288 rep

I agree with @RandomExile
give authors the ability to select which target age audience should play their creations.
and add a Flag option in-case the game is improperly rated.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:07:01 PM
2
railslave 4,688 rep

Hard thing to do, people shouldnt be swearing anyway, its not socially acceptable around kids, sexual content(in words as well) and its just not very clever. But violence will be hard to deal with.
I guess you could trust the creators to inform people or face some kind of discipline.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:14:01 PM
1
predbites 4,925 rep

I feel a good way would be to add a set of age selections under Game Details within Construct2 that would need to be selected before you can export the finished game ie: 0-6, 0-12, 12-16, 18 etc. You can then use these as filter within the Arcade.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:17:07 PM
4
OddConfection 5,518 rep

I agree with Kyatric , a self-rating system for game uploaders with "Mature" games only available to those who untick an option in their profile seems the best option.

Games whose devs no longer frequent the site might have to be classified by the Scirra team or forum moderators, but otherwise I think this is the most workable system.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:20:46 PM
1
ludodesign 29.9k rep

Can use a warning screen. Or be more stronger and ask the age in profile, use the profile age to see or not see some games in arcade.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:24:09 PM
3
ben0 3,697 rep

self rated system for the game developers, and a crowd-powered rating to moderate the games. Appoint several power moderators as well.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:25:12 PM
3
tomasabril 1,473 rep

I agree with a lot of people said here. The creator sets a "nsfw tag" when uploading and only logged in people that tick (or untick) a box saying that hey want to see all games can play the tagged games. And also the players can vote or flag for games with inappropriate ratings.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:36:22 PM
4
Wastrel 11.8k rep

Realistically, you can't prevent kids from accessing mature content if they are determined to access it. What you can do is provide enough cautions and warning signs in front of mature content to mitigate the reaction from parents.

Looking at how XBOX Live approaches this issue, when someone signs up, they must enter their birth date. If they are less than a certain age (13, I think), they need to have a parent with an account approve them signing up. The parent can then define from their account which content is allowed for the child's account.

While this approach doesn't prevent kids from getting to mature content, it puts the responsibility of accessing the content on the parent and the child.

I think the suggestions about the rating system are good. I think the developers here are responsible enough to rate their own content, but giving the community, moderators, and administrators the ability to flag and modify ratings will help keep the ratings honest, and reduce the workload for the (2) administrators.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:42:57 PM
4
sman118 7,220 rep

You know how at the beginning of movies they have the rating accompanied by a list of the questionable things in it (for example: Rated R for Language, Nudity, and Some Drug Use)? Maybe you can create a checklist that creators can mark showing the questionable material that is in there game. If certain items that would be considered inappropriate for players over a certain age are checked, have an age gate pop up before the game is loaded.

That, plus an option for a game to be flagged by the community, might help or at least limit your liability. Of course, i don't know how hard this would be to implement. Just an idea.

Thursday, November 01, 2012 at 12:45:19 PM

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