Handling Questionable Content


#1

Hello, I’m new to choicescript and have begun working on a project just recently that is a modern psychological horror. The thing is, being a ‘realistic’ horror… it has some… questionable content.

In short, I’m probably making an R rated game at the least- but how should I handle this? Both in how to let a potential audience know what to expect (right now I have a disclaimer screen at the beginning), and what if anything I should actually avoid? I’m trying to go for some amount of shock factor- a sort of ‘cringe This stuff -does- exist in the world, doesn’t it?’ reaction. Like- I have not really seen any CoG with foul language, and I can understand that in many fictional settings. But not having that in a day-to-day real-world sort of setting doesn’t make sense to me, as though it would take away from the reality of the story. So casual foul language (but not, necessarily, excessive), violence, murder, content of a sexual nature (potentially questionable), idyllogically sensitive content (eg prejudices, religious views, ect)- I would like to include these things in my story because… bluntly, it wouldn’t be much of a psychological horror without them… but I don’t really know at what point a prospective audience would be turned off by such content. How do people think I should handle this? I’d like to gather opinions before actually getting very far into the story, so I have no real examples to give. If there are already guidelines for these in place, would someone be kind enough to link me to them?

Also… I’d appreciate different people’s thoughts on whether not to hold anything back, or to cut content that might be overly offensive? Personally, I just have a really thick skin when it comes to such things, but how should I handle writing an R rated story?


#2

I’ve a little more to say but the relevant section of the rules is:

https://forum.choiceofgames.com/guidelines#adult-content

We generally recommend against posting links to obscene or sexually explicit content, but we generally allow links to interactive-fiction games that include such content, as long as they are clearly marked as “adult only.”

This includes games with intense horror themes, graphic descriptions of violence, explicit sexual content/erotica, or rape (explicit or implied). Use your best judgment.

If any discussion about adult-only games becomes offensive, the moderators reserve the right to censor the objectionable posts and close or remove the thread.

Minors: If you are a minor, you should not follow links that are explicitly marked as “adult”. If you do follow those links, we take no responsibility for what you find there. Furthermore, if you are a minor, and you tell us that you are a minor, and you post in a thread explicitly marked as “adult”, we will censor your posts.


#3

Thank you very much. It may be a while until it becomes relevant, but this is very good information to know.

This clears things up for me regarding how this is handled on this forum- and that such content is allowed as part of games written in genres applicable to such content.

Within such a game itself, though, would it be generally recommended to have an ‘Adult Only’ page at the beginning to clearly mark the game’s content? And then go about it as a sort of ‘The reader has been warned, viewer discretion is advised, so those that continue do so of their own volition?’


#4

There are a number of games with swear words in them, foul language is fine, I’m sure it’s acceptable to use fuck as punctuation if you really want to. I’m not sure where Choice of Games stands on bigoted language, various racial and homophobic slurs, that sort of thing. I think they are rather anti-censorship, I suspect the publishing platforms are less so.

The main issues you’ll hit aren’t with Choice of Games, it’s when it comes to getting your game published, those stores have guidelines and they do reject games that don’t meet the guidelines.

Now, it depends on how extreme and shocking the game is. We do allow for MATURE threads on the forum to discuss games, but it depends on how much you’re out to shock and horrify with graphic content, I think.

If your game’s nothing but torture porn, brimming with virulent misogyny, offensive stereotypes, graphic descriptions of torture, rape, etc then you can create a thread here but the discussions happen off-site. You must place ADULT CONTENT or something similar in the title. The under-age forum members are expected to steer well clear and not post in that thread. You can post a link to your game in the thread, but discussions of the game happen elsewhere. You can ask people to email you, or set up a blog or something. (Incidentally, not saying your game is, that’s an example of a game that we did ask to take discussion off forum.)

It’s going to depend though. You will get a specific kind of feedback on this forum in regards to games with certain qualities. (If the game’s misogynistic, for instance, you will get people complaining and commenting on that and you may find it derails discussion of other aspects of your game.) The forum’s got a certain culture. I’m not sure how long you’ve been around.

I’d say ask someone, or @Vendetta himself, to tell you the story of Vendetta Rise of the Gangster and what happened there. I’m still fuzzy on the specifics but it’s the second example that comes to mind of a game with content some people found offensive, while others loved, being posted to the forums. He ended up taking it off site, I think.

Anyway, I’d say if you are posting the game, do provide warnings with it.

(Incidentally, I do think there’s a difference between a game itself being misogynistic and the actual setting being so.)


#5

I laughed a little bit. I know I shouldn’t- but, I’m not planning on something THAT … X-rating. I guess it’s like ‘What could I expect to find in a horror movie?’

I think I understand what you mean by the difference between a game itself being a thing, and the setting within a game being so. It’s like… if a game only allowed ‘bad guy’ choices without any ‘heroic’ choices, the game itself would be villainistic, rather than just the setting. So it’s like… how much flexibility the game gives you to be different things. Like maybe you can be a total jerk in a game and the game will reflect on that… but then if all you can be in a game is a jerk, the game itself is like that. I do want to try to create a game where it’s not too much ‘one thing’… which I know is a rather broad statement, but I don’t think the game could avoid R-rated content. But maybe some choices you make lead to less of that, others lead to more… that’s what I’d aim for.

I appreciate very much your tips regarding publishing games and the guidelines of the stores. Truthfully, I don’t even know where I’d begin looking when it comes to something like trying to get a Steam launch, and that’s realistically too far in the future to be worrying about now. Except that if Steam, for example, has particular guidelines about what they allow, it would be wise to follow those guidelines with that as even a hopeful goal. It sounds like CoG itself is pretty open-minded, but it might not be such a bad idea to consider the guidelines of affiliated publishers as well. Given enough time I could probably hunt the information up, but if you happen to know where I could find guidelines for Steam and/or Google play, I would appreciate it. Those are hopeful goals in the long run, with the optimistic consideration that eventually I’d be published. Even if there’s no planned time, and it takes a year or more.

Basically I just wanted to make sure that I saved myself a lot of trouble- avoiding potential issues before they become issues. Like if Steam doesn’t allow one thing, but does allow another, go with the another, and not the one thing.


#6

Life of a Mobster had some violent scenes and drug use. We had some fun getting through Apple, but it was mostly just the preview screens. The strange “violence is okay, sex is not” double standard of North America is followed. :smile:

I’m a product of my culture. I write about violence, but quickly fade-to-black when sex occurs. Swearing and horrific violence will all be okay, just give a warning at the beginning. It would have to be pretty over the top to not be allowed for violence reasons, even then, I’ll bet it would get through.


#7

Don’t you know? Dismemberment is okay but bewbies are the root of all evil. I really really don’t understand American culture…and I’m American.


#8

By the difference between game and setting I meant it’s more the difference between.

If you have a world where women are seen as second class citizens, where they’re discriminated against and treated like dirt, that’s a sexist setting. Within such a setting you can still give female characters power and agency, they don’t need to confirm to stereotypes.

If you have a world where the only women are defined by their relationships to men, or where they all have a very narrow set of personality traits, or where the text describes every single woman in terms of their physical attractiveness, (yet male characters get to appear in all shapes, ages, and ugliness), where there may just be a single female character in the entire game and she has LOVE INTEREST plastered on her head. Well then, you might just have a sexist game.

Is that making sense? And the same goes for other prejudices.

Personally, I’ve no issue if someone wants to write a game filled with graphic sex content, 50 Choices of Gray, or whatever.

It’s rape that I object to. I’d say even there it’s not a subject that games should be forbidden from tackling. Just, I’ve not seen it handled anything close to well. And honestly, I’d much rather avoid any games that do deal with it.

To find those store guidelines you’re going to have to google, since that’s what I’d do anyway. Steam launch is far away if you’re writing a Hosted Game. So far there’s no Hosted Games on Steam, although there is an attempt to get Tin Star greenlit. (VOTE TIN STAR!)


#9

My WIP has some swearing (it’s not at Quentin Tarantino levels, but it’s there.) Also, sex, violence, death, and in some paths people being eaten alive. In terms of the app store and younger testers, as long as you give a content warning up front, I think it has more to do with HOW you write it than what you include.

If you fade to black for sex scenes, you’re okay as far as the app store is concerned; add those details back in, it’s now too racy for them. Violence is similar. Violent concepts and events are allowed, but if you start going into a gory play-by-play of details, it might be too much. COG has very loose rules about that kind of thing, as linked in this thread; there have been very dark, gory or sexual games on the forums, they just might not make it into the app store.

Drugs are a huge hot button issue for the app store. I don’t know why, but I have been told that they won’t touch anything that deals with drug themes. I believe that applies to plots about addicts as well as “drugs are fun” sorts of messages. They also hate dealing with sexual assault, incest, or other controversial crimes (but murder is sometimes okay, go figure.) So I’d steer away from that sort of thing if you can, if you want any chance of selling it there.

In my opinion? Bizarre sex, murder, and horror is all right up my alley. I love worlds that are dark but that also have something to say; it’s not about the shock value or “LOOK HOW EVIL I CAN BE”, these things are included because they set the scene to support the message of the game. The one thing I would really steer away from is rape or oppression as drama; it’s so overdone to make someone’s rape a dramatic plot point for other characters to react to/turn them into a vigilante, and it’s so hard to do it without being stupid and offensive, I’d rather authors find another way to create gritty realism.