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Roleplaying (II) - on maturity


This is my 2nd article on online RPGing and Gmastering/server management.

This one is driven simply by common sense, so you won't find here nothing new, but things you have discussed lots of times. I wanted to put it together so we could have a reference and as a structured guide for newcomers and such. And besides it was easy to do, too.

As always, comments are encouraged to improve this text


I'll try to deal with this topic by gathering the ideas we all already have. Note that this is a complicated topic, and for each of the things you do, someone will be offended.

2.1. Previous: The Traditional Target Market

It is not a secret that the traditional target market for games have been child and teenagers. This is a part of the population critically vulnerable to media and propaganda, and though they may have not much money, they're a whole bunch and move in hordes (depending on what's cool this week).

So games makers have always tried to sell games to kids. Besides, most other media, mostly the film industry, regards it as a market that needs to be reached in every case, just not to lose the potential benefits. How many times have you thought that a film could have been much better were it not for its forced political correctness? And what about songs lyrics?

This leads to corporations to prevent anything considered politically incorrect from appearing on his product. In one MMORPG, you can't name yourself after obscene words, and this may seem somewhat right to some people, but I once read a message on the board from someone who told that there was a girl character (the gender of the player, unknown) on a server, and she was giving erotic chat to other players in exchange for magical items. This person demanded that that player should be banned from the server and this kind of conduct prohibited. I don't know what was the outcome of that.

For one side, if I were running a corporation I wouldn't allow it, because I wanted the money and those behaviors could lead on players not letting their sons play the game. On the other hand, it is a fact that prostituted existed in middle age, as in every age of history, so an acurate depiction of middle age, even fantasy ones, would be more completed with these people.

So what should we do at Worldforge? I think each server administrator should be free to put whatever content he likes, except those being illegal. But we should have meanings to control or at least keep an eye on this, if only not to have a bad press because is appearing in the newspapers.

2.2. On offending content

Roleplaying game, if made for adults, can have some offensive content. This may include a lot of things. I will depict here some of them using our gameworld (Cronos) as an example. For each example I will give a counterpart, to mention that very polite behavior can also appear in a fantasy world:

Violence: computers RPGs are pretty much about violence, or "raiding dungeons for fun & profit". This, anyway, is the most common seen of offensive issues, and has been dealed a lot before (reducing gore and the like).

Xenophobia: every race uses to dislike each other, but elves
are by all means the worst ones. They don't care about the live of animals (they consider themselves the one only intelligent race) and they can massacre lots of other people from other races (species, they would say) without blinking. On the opposite, half-elves are very friendly with other races, a lot much more than the average human on Earth today.

Sexism: for Orcs, a female is nothing more than a tool for spawning children in packs of six. But female dwarves have the same right as males, in fact, they act the same, they speak the same and even look the same.

Disgusting habits: Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, etc. would eat their fathers in case they were at home hungry and feeling lazy to go hunt something. Alternatively, the elves show an exquisite savoir-faire in everything they do, from waking up from bed, to eat and drink and speak, and to die noblily in any circumstance.

2.3 What to do?

So what should we do? Change the world in case someone may be offended? I suppose not, because then we would not be depicting the world we have in our minds.

Should we put it accesible for everyone? Certainly not, because I for one don't want to have 12-year childrens playing a cannibal orc in my world. It's not my decission, it's his parents' decission what matters. If I ever have childrens, I will decide what they should see, but in no case can I impose my criteria on other parents.

But, as long as we are not trying to hit the market, we *DON'T* have to let children play all our games. The games are to be
free, but the servers could require some checking to see if the player meets the characteristics that the server demands (age 12+, 16+, 18+, etc), or wether the player has a parental auhtorization to play that game. This brings several problems to mind:

2.3.1 Is this legal under GPL? I'm no lawyer so I dunno. Whatever the answer is, will go in this document instead of this very

2.3.2 How can we tell the age of someone? We can't go around asking for credit card numbers.

2.3.3 Who would rate the content? Would be better an independent method (each server manager states his own) or a centralized one (all worldforge community votes for a rating)?

2.3.4 How could be implement a mechanism that allow parents to enable/forbid their sons to reach our game servers?

2.3.5 It is all of the above work worth doing? Should we leave it for each server manager? What would happen if we do not take on this subject?

2.4 On illegal content

What would happen if someone released a WF game in which the players were all from X contry / race / gender / religion / whatever and their purpose is to hunt, torture and kill NPCs who are all from Y country / race / gender / religion / whatever? Plainly, what would we do if someone does something illegal with WF?

I think the main answer is clear: we should notify the authorities so they can put an end to that.

But further from that, I think it would be a good idea to keep an eye on these kind of things, to keep some rules telling what
would be illegal to depict in worldforge, and a contact method to report these kind of things to us, and we in turn contact police (centralizing this proccess).

Note: I think that you may have thought about this already,
only put here to bring on the issue and because it is important on the
subject I'm discussing.

Please note that my personal opinion differs a lot from that of what it seems I'm expressing in the previous text. I (Aglanor) think that childrens have to be taught both good and bad things in life. They should be raised with the principles of ethic in mind, but not blindfolded.

But out there, there is many people out there that thinks otherwise. And if someone feels offended, we should think about if we can/should/must give tools for it not to happen.

It's fine for me to walk naked way down the street, but I wouldn't get very far ;)

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