CoG TWs and CWs

Hello.

I was wondering if there should be a list of trigger- and content warnings for the games in the catalogues.
Some games handle sensitive topics (RaV e.g. which already provides TW/CW) and not always are they handled well (Open Season e.g. managed to induce panic/anxiety attacks in a couple of (beta)readers and has yet to be fixed).

So, what would you say are content- and/or trigger warnings for various games?

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Stupid question, but I’m guessing it would primarily be the author’s responsibility to add any TWs/CWs they think their game might contain? And if they didn’t and perhaps refused to add them in, then the staff would step in and add them?

I’d say ‘why not?’ and add them into the site/categories if it’s the author’s responsibility and the CoG staff only steps in as an extreme last measure. Maybe even add in a filter that would exclude/include IFs that are marked with certain TWs/CWs.

The easiest approach would prolly be a wikified thread on the forum

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Makes sense! My answer would still be ‘yes, why not have this feature available for authors to use?’.

For discussion’s sake, could there be any drawbacks to having this system implemented?

Readers would obviously benefit from this system; some authors might suffer some drawback (they lose a segment of their potential audience because of the TWs/CWs for instance) but I think the idea is a good one!

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I believe the most effective method would be to include TWs and CWs at the beginning of every game…at least until you consider how many people just…don’t even read the damn things? (idk I’m still blown away by the fact that many people I know irl just read the choices and not the context like excuse me w h a t) But that would be a lot of work for the authors of older games, not to mention CoG as a whole to roll out the updates, so…

Yeah, I’d throw my hat into a wiki post of all games and their warnings. It might only help forum dwellers, but as the company grows, that may be a good thing, considering we’re the more outspoken portion of players.

Still.
@Gower I know we’re trying to cut down on excessive threads, but this one sounds rather beneficial overall. Any thoughts on this?

edit: @MeltingPenguins mind if I move this to #meta? I feel like this thread and its discussion would be better off where everyone can see it.

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Go ahead. I wasnt certain whether adult or meta was more suitable

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Another good idea! I imagine if an author intro post is pretty long and if a forum goer is only looking for the demo or any other particular thing (i.e. ROs) they might skip past the TWs or CWs.

Mnnn…
What about putting it on the About page and have a note about it in the description when you first start the game?

Isn’t there a WiP demo that does this? As soon as you click the link, it starts out with a content warning IIRC.

I think a good approach would be to add category tags, a wikified thread, and warnings before a reader would even begin the game. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do to before it’s out of your hands (as the author) and is left to the consumer.

That’s a good practice to encourage. I’m not sure a wiki for authors to use would offer any particular benefit over it, especially since so many CoG/HG authors don’t frequent the forum anyhow and so many of the games would thus be untagged, if I understand the idea right. I don’t object to a wiki in principle, but I’m not sure it’s necessary over and above the game description.

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I fear that commenting in anyway will be mistaken as being seen as having an official opinion on it, one way or the other(I have absolutely no strong feelings about it whatsoever.)

First, let’s get this out of the way. I don’t see how it really hurts anything other than slowing down people’s ability to replay slightly by needing to make them spam the next button a little, but it maybe costs them about one or two seconds(Likely to drive players on the third or fourth time crazy, but at that point, nobody could say they weren’t aware of what they were reading.)

I wouldn’t advocate something like about or info pages that rarely anybody will instinctively look at unless they are already trying to find information on something highly specific, which most players won’t do just to find out what kind of content may or may not be included, so it is better to have it right away.

Here’s what I’m curious about and I could be confused about this or misunderstanding something.

Doesn’t the site itself already have established rules on what is and isn’t acceptable content? Granted, it doesn’t necessarily cover everything that could be a sensitive issue for someone. They’re is still numerous rules that make it fundamentally clear on what is and isn’t allowed. Without clearly defined case examples of what people actually had complaints about, it’s not easy to go “Yes, this needs some forewarning.” without really understanding what the issue with the content is.

I can’t speak for others, but I recently had a learning curve related a WiP.

There’s a scene where chloroform is used and I pointed out that chloroform doesn’t work that way and gave the author a link if they wanted to research it for more detail. The author explained to me their decision and said that they made that decision to be less triggering for readers who may have trauma concerning kidnapping/chloroform usage.

I can see why topics like the one from above, and possibly similar ones, could - and arguably? - should have a content warning/trigger warning. While it’s not a hard line rule that a situation like that cannot happen in a CoG/HG (compared to allowing the MC to perpetuate racism or bigotry which is a hard-no) I imagine that scenes such as that one can bring up unpleasant memories for others.

What my learning curve basically goes to show is that a single person can’t account for everything that could be triggering unpleasant or traumatic memories/emotions in their story (because we all have separate lives/experiences), so it’s best to listen to your audience and respect what they have to say.

Before my conversation with the WiP author it would have never crossed my mind that something like that could be traumatic to some of my readers. Now I know and putting in a content/trigger warning is the least I can do as a future author. The CoG community is one that I trust to give feedback and catch any mistakes I make, especially if something is genuinely concerning because the community is built around giving feedback to WiPs.

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I think at the bare minimum, basic TW should be mentioned in every game.

I know of a few people that had a really bad reaction playing SoH3 when they reached the (spoilers and trigger warning ahead) gang r*** scene. I think that short of thing should always have a trigger warning.

I understand that some authors might want to leave those scenes as something shocking an unexpected, but I don’t know… it seems quite nasty to stumble upon that when you were not expecting it.

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How would that being reinforced though? Or even punished if the author refuses to include content warnings?

Strictly speaking, forum wise the CoG staff has gone on record they don’t go through the HG, WiP Category, so it’d probably be up to the forum members to bring it to the staff’s attention who would have the forum authority to implement some kind of trigger warnings (via tags since they can’t go in the author’s actual files and add the warnings into the game itself).

I take it that if a game is targeted at children would it even need warnings? Assuming it doesn’t involve subjecting the child!MC to bullying and the like. Echoing what Frosty said in their last paragraph and from my experience, an author can’t account for everything that could potentially trigger a reader. We’re all different people with different experiences and what is traumatic to a reader might not be traumatic to the author.

Authors can cover the basic content warnings (gore, violence, sexual content, strong language, etc.) since it’s the “standard” (video game ESRB rating system) but for the things that people wouldn’t normally think about (i.e. chloroform) the author would have to rely on their audience informing them about the content before they can add the warning.

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I mean, the authors are not really allowed to sell anything made with Choice Script unless they publish it through either CoG or HG. So I guess using the pertinent trigger warnings in the game could be one of the requirements to be published?

Is not like is a crazy request, imo, is a simple rule that could be implemented and would do no harm. Unless I am missing something here that would make this impossible :thinking:

Ok, yeah. I’m a little confused now.

What I was imagining, per penguins’ suggestion, was a wiki post that would list games (CoG and Hosted, not merely WIPs) and under a [read more] would be a summary of potential triggers.

And yes, @Hex the community guidelines already filter for really big triggers, but there’s a lot of little smaller triggers that I don’t think any of us would expect the staff to cater to by ever including them in the forum rules. Coulrophobia, drowning, prominently featured insects or bugs, blood, etc—things that could cause a person distress but that would be too superfluous to ban outright.

For example:
I’m incredibly afraid of bugs, and had to put Grand Academy for Future Villains down during one of the scenes because a student was described as being very bug-like, and eugh. However, after I got myself together, the game ended up being one of my favorites and I replayed it about a dozen times! It’s just that in every subsequent playthrough, I was prepared for the scene. I figured a list of TWs would be a way to extend the same possibility to other users.

I absolutely agree that WIP authors would be wise to include their own TW/CW list in their first post, as that’s going to be the most likely place that people find their demo anyway. But there’s no avenue to do this with already published games, short of getting authors to update their games with a TW message somewhere, which…idk, feels a bit entitled? Unnecessary? Especially when it’s smaller triggers. Like, I absolutely would never push for Katherine Nehring to update Grand Academy just for my insectophobia.

So that’s why I think a post would be a nice middleground. It wouldn’t place any pressure on published or WIP authors or even the staff, and it would be able to include even less intense triggers, because yes. Absolutely. WIP authors won’t be able to come up with them all themselves, but as a community we can.

Further, if it is preferred to keep it for WIPs, a wiki post could also serve as an informal list of potential triggers that writers can scour and see which ones apply to their WIP if they really can’t think of anything.

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Given that the games are already read through before publication, I assume the question is how much extra work it would be to make note of the bigger/more obvious triggers and then make note of them. Which is something I really can’t comment on–it’s assuredly more work than it sounds like, but I don’t know how much work it would actually add up to

And then, yeah, there’s a question of then what to do with them. I think letting Rent-A-Vice set the trigger warning precedent for the big stuff is a good idea. I guess there’s the question of what warrants the bigger warning? Is it about the content–any mention of [trigger] gets a warning? Or is it about how much it’s present–a passing mention of [trigger] doesn’t need it, but if it’s a plot point it does?

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Theoretically, yes. CoG/HG could say ‘No, we’re not going to publish your game unless you put content labels for X, Y, and Z,’, but that’d only be if the WiP hits the publishing floor.

Unless you’re suggesting the staff go so far as to restrict a user from posting their WiP in the Work in Progress forums until they put in content warnings, I don’t think it’s very effective because you can’t account for every single possible thing that could potentially trigger someone in your audience and because the staff should be more concerned with whether or not the draft meets their publishing standards.

Trigger warnings/content warnings are good things and I think authors should use them to err on the side of caution, but I don’t think the CoG/HG labels should be the ones to reinforce the rule that authors should do it or punish authors if they don’t do it because it’s not their job.

If an author or potential author dismisses their audiences concerns over X content and why it should have some warning, they’ll get punished by virtue of not listening to their audience and alienate their audience by implicitly saying ‘No, I don’t think your concerns/traumatic experiences are valid,’.

It isn’t crazy to ask authors to put in trigger or content warnings. What is ‘crazy’ is to ask the CoG/HG staff to enforce this standard because a.) there are probably thousands of WiPs that they’d have to comb through and b.) it’s be walking a tight rope for them to decide what kind of content deserves a content or trigger warning.

Ok, what I’m trying to figure out is where you got this from because I don’t think anyone was suggesting that at all, so I’m not even sure why it’s part of the conversation.

I don’t mean to sound aggressive and I apologize if I do, it’s simply that I think everyone agrees that expecting the staff to do something like enforce TWs in any aspect would be a huge waste of time and resources when the community is more than equipped to handle such a thing, so I’m not too sure why anyone is even arguing that point?

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Meira_Litch said “I guess using the pertinent trigger warnings in the game could be one of the requirements to be published” and “a simple rule” which I interpreted as meaning CoG/HG staff enforces WiPs and published games to have content/trigger warnings.

And no! You don’t sound aggressive at all! :slight_smile:

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