[casual_games] ESRB Need Not Apply
james at popcap.com
Mon Dec 25 01:30:37 EST 2006
Good point. There's no reason why games need to be these monolithic
entities anymore if the OS has the notion of parental rating built in
and can communicate with the game. Why not allow a game that might
otherwise be rated T "downgrade" itself to an E by removing certain
objectionable content, special FX, etc. Let the OS say "this machine
will only allow E rated games" and let the game decide whether or not it
I don't expect the ESRB to be the lead on this, but if another
publishers push for it then it could happen.
Director of Business Development
PopCap Games, Inc.
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org
[mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Alex St. John
Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2006 12:27 AM
To: casual_games at igda.org
Subject: [casual_games] ESRB Need Not Apply
That's useful if you're buying a box, but unlike a boxed title kids may
discover and try down loadable games unsupervised, hence the parental
controls need to be applied at the point of online discovery, not by a
parent reading a label on a box. Vista parental controls don't
interpret a "Game Content May change During Online Play" note. The game
is either blocked or not, which means that some level of ESRB rating
must be defined to include the possibility of open in-game chat. A good
parental control system will allow a parent to enable or block the
possibility of in-game chat in any game regardless of content rating.
In the absence of that definition and support from Vista we just apply a
"T" rating to any game that includes in-game chat.
If Vista parental controls were well designed they would make a callback
to any game that a user launched that parental controls apply to
enabling the game to deliver it's own message to the consumer rather
than having one imposed by the OS. For example suppose Popcap made a T
game and parental controls were set at E. A popcap game could launch
it's own dialog that explained the block and the reason for it, provide
UI to enable somebody to change their parental control level or unblock
that game, and/or recommend other popcap games that have E ratings. If
the reason for the rating was in-game chat, the game could offer to
disable that specific feature. Instead Vista trusts the game to
accurately report its ESRB rating, but doesn't trust it to handle it's
own messaging when somebody launches it.
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