Content notes and gated content

I’ve reached a moment in Royal Affairs about a character having a panic attack that I’m going to make a note of in the content notes. The scene could, I think, do with being gated based on player preference. It isn’t plot-load-bearing and is more of a relationship, characterful moment, but I don’t want players to feel forced to interact with a mental health related situation that might make them feel personally uncomfortable.

I’m currently deciding whether to have a setting in my stats page to toggle content-gated scenes on and off, or to have an option in the text where you can skip the scene that says something like “I want to hang out with this person, but I’m not in a position to support them with this”.

I’d like to know - Do any ChoiceScript games stand out to you in particular as examples of good practice with their content notes or gated content? Do you prefer to set a blanket setting, or set it as you go?

(If you don’t think content notes or gating content is worthwhile, you don’t need to post that! I’m working on the premise that they are useful.)

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I think it can depend on how many times this will happen; if only once/a few times- I think having it just before the scene (in game) would be best.

If it’s going to happen quite a lot of times- having an option in the stats is better

3 Likes

I don’t play enough WIPs to think of any good examples off the top of my head, but I think a good place to look for WIPs that have content notes/gating would be the Adult Content category, since those games are more likely to have content which requires warnings. That’s probably obvious, but hey, still worth mentioning, I think, lol.


For content that is going to be reoccurring or particularly sensitive, I think a blanket setting at the very beginning — alongside a warning — is best, so that the reader can avoid it as much as possible. For content that is a one-off and not that “extreme,” I think an in-game choice right before it comes up works out better, especially if you can find a way to work it into the context of the game itself.

“So-and-so is about to have a panic attack. Are you comfortable helping them through this? There is no penalty for saying no.”

That sort of thing. You can allow the reader to make an in-character choice, while still being respectful of the reader’s own mental health/triggers.


Why not both?

Readers who explore the stats page early on can make a preemptive decision. If the variable you’re using to keep track of whether the user has opted to see the content or not isn’t on the default setting (i.e. set to “true” when the default is “false”), then you don’t have an in-game prompt regarding whether they wish to view that content (or however you word it), since they’ve already made their decision. If the variable is on the default setting, you do show the prompt.

Hopefully that made sense! :sweat_smile:

4 Likes

You might want to look at how Rent-a-Vice, which has many various, potentially triggering scenes of personal horror, handles content warnings: Rent-a-Vice

But, for something milder like this, I think your idea of letting the PC say “I like this person, but I’m not in a position to help them with this” is elegant and good chance for characterization. There may be readers out there who aren’t necessarily triggered but are like “mm, nope, that’s not what my character wants to deal with right now.”

8 Likes

Maybe if a reader isn’t comfortable seeing the content but thinks their character would be willing and able to help an NPC — you could have two “yes, help” options:

One “fades to black” and abridges the situation. The other shows the content in full. Then the aftermath/rest of the game plays out the same.

9 Likes

I feel like individual choices for each event are going to be the best, because this kind of thing can be very context dependent. Somebody bothered by a an event caused by one kind of issue may be fine with one caused by something else. Best to let them decide after they see the leadup, rather than maybe gate themselves out of content with a choice they have to make blindly at the start.

If it can work for the story I’d also consider an option where the character does help them with it but it fades to black over the actual event, so that people can have a character who can handle it, even if the player doesn’t want to see it.

7 Likes

I’ll also toss my hat in for both. Personally, I want to make decisions like this or like RO genders or cursing or whatever at the beginning of the game because I don’t want the narrative interrupted. But those options usually also include an “I want to decide when I get there” choice and I always appreciate that it’s there. And, as mentioned above, some people deal better with A than B and might want to safeguard themselves from B without missing out on A so I think a case by case option will only benefit you.

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If you do decide to make it a choice when a person reaches the point of interaction, Superstition S2 had a very troubling scene where you can talk through preventing an attempt with somebody and had in brackets ‘trigger warning: if you do not want to do this then press skip’. I thought it would pull me out of the moment, but it didn’t. And I was glad I got the chance to come across it naturally rather than hit a toggle to turn it off. I’m one of those people who are like, I don’t want to be triggered, but I want to know what I’m possibly missing out on.

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Thank you for your thoughts, everyone, it’s really helpful! I think I’ll go for a hybrid system as various people have suggested. I don’t foresee this being something that’ll come up a lot, but I think it’d be good to have a toggleable system set up in case I want to do this sort of thing again. And I’ll have a note on the scene itself that makes it skippable if desired, without any ingame bad consequences for doing so. (I’m someone who when playing is less likely to toggle-off content, but may be startled ingame depending on context, so it’s useful to understand what a scene might involve when deciding whether to play or not.)

5 Likes