I have a WIP game that is under the ‘adult’ category. I’ve read the rules regarding this sort of thing but I’m afraid they aren’t quite clear to me. So I will label the things that are (at least planned) to happen in the game below:
Romantic ‘intimate’ relationships - sex happens. How far with descriptions is too far is my main question?
Warfare - these stories deserve to be told in their full, hideous glory. As ex-military and the son of generations of soldiers, I feel we do their stories no justice by making hell on earth seem like a playground. Thus, I write in explicit detail regarding these scenes. This includes gore (if references help then think Saving Private Ryan, Fury and potentially Black Hawk Down) and profanity.
Some body horror? Maybe? Aliens do not think like we do. What looks beautiful to us could look like a monster to them. Primarily this applies to a particular alien race that forces genetic modifications onto people they capture.
Potentially psychological horror. Namely there are scenes involving the use of flamethrowers, biological warfare and other such scenes. War is a bloody and terrible business. It is best we never forget that lest we become too fond of it.
For me I would be glad to see a non-fluffy war story. Agreed that it’s often glossed over or even glorified (though not usually in an explicit manner). So I’m hoping for you the rules are in your favor!
The game is scifi under the adult category. It’s named ‘Shattered Stars’. I plan to write a second book about WWI where you take on the role of a soldier. I haven’t quite planned that one out fully as I’m working on this one. But… suffice to say I will be aiming to make that particular book as realistic as possible.
In general, games must not contain deeply offensive material, such as scenes that glorify sexual violence or racist attitudes.
Obviously different people can differ about what “deeply offensive” means and so forth, and it is practically impossible to evaluate or opine in the absence of the story itself. You can ask here, but a definitive answer of “yes, that’s fine” is going to be hard to get until the thing is written. On the other hand, a “hell, no” may be more easily attained depending on what the topic in question is.
Below are some links where you can do a bit of research on related topics.
The Adult Content Category is meant for stories that contain graphic sexual content (i.e. body parts are mentioned). There are several WiPs that use the Adult Content category for gore or violence but not sex scenes (currently) however they aren’t mandated to be marked as Adult per the rules.
With these examples then are there any definite ‘hell no’ responses to the above? I am currently stuck on writing this until I can confirm what is and isn’t allowed under the COG LLC policies.
If it matters, each part that includes those sorts of scenes is not blocked behind an explicit content warning (at least not yet) because I don’t know what is and isn’t allowed and also because I don’t think they should be censored.
On the note of the last, I’m planning on putting a content warning on the front of the book where it is easily seen and explaining what and why these themes are used so that there’s no surprises.
We’ve had other stories that didn’t have to be moved (AFAIK) to the Adult category that involved body horror and/or psychological horror, so I would say that’s tentatively alright.
It’s not realistic that we read every single story that’s posted on the forum to check if it’s obeying forum/publishing guidelines, so moderators have to rely on community members to either flag a story or privately PM one of us if they believe it’s crossing a line.
My belief is that a final decision on that cannot be offered by staff until they have the book in front of them. In other words, you won’t be told “yes, we will publish this under HG” until it is done. As far as seeing something that I immediately say that is going to be absolutely forbidden, I don’t see that personally, but there’s really not much to go on. “sex”; “full, hideous glory”; “body horror” – so I don’t think there’s enough data here.
So if you can’t write until you have a definitive yes/no, you have a chicken and egg situation that I don’t think there’s an easy answer to.
I think you will be best served by your adult WIP thread, and getting a lot of readers’ takes on your work.
That’s a decision that staff will make when you submit it, typically. You can write to email@example.com if you have questions in the meantime. If your game contains scenes that glorify sexual violence, have pornographic-level violence, glorifies racist viewpoints, and so forth then you can feel pretty confident that it won’t be accepted.
If it is garden-variety bloody violence or body parts-naming sex, then you are probably fine.
As has been stated before, the main standard we use to judge if something is “too much”, so to speak, is if it’s glorifying something horrible, but just skimming through your OP I noticed this:
And this is in regards to the following content warning:
Graphic depictions of violence and war.
Some sexual content (in the finished game).
Genocide (primarily, aliens committing genocide against humanity and vice versa).
So you say yourself that you don’t plan on glorifying any of this, and I’m inclined to believe you. Generally speaking, when someone is already concerned and aware of the more pernicious aspects of what they may be creating, they tend to be more capable of identifying any potential issues before anyone else and thus can course correct before even causing a fuss. Further, in my experience, having these kinds of preexisting sensitivities means that these creators are also more willing to accept feedback about any issue they have overlooked or been ignorant of.
If your fear is that we’ll remove your WIP at the first transgression, don’t be. Our first course of action is to suggest editing the issue at heart and we’ll try to work with you in identifying what ought to be changed or clarified. Usually, that’s enough to fix things.
All that said, this is all only applies to the forum, as we are not staff and cannot speak for them in regards to publishing criteria, so I do encourage you to contact @KaiDeleon (you could honestly just PM her here if you’re not comfortable using email just yet) for any concerns specific to publishing.
I agree with those who’ve said that you should go ahead and write your vision without worrying too much about censorship from the publisher. Here are my (non-authoritative! I do not in any way speak for CoG!) guesses to help you calibrate and not stress about it:
CoG would totally have published the IF equivalent of Saving Private Ryan, Fury, or Black Hawk Down. Write that level of violence or horror with similar intent, and you’re highly unlikely to end up with something objectionable.
They totally wouldn’t have published the IF equivalent of Srpski Film.
They publish profanity. I can’t imagine a game getting turned down on grounds of the swears.
They already publish explicit sex scenes in e.g. Haven Rising and Heart of the House. Keep all the sex in your game consensual, leave rape out of the list of war horrors you depict, and you’ll have no problems.
On body horror, it’s pretty unlikely that you’d cross any red lines unless it was highly sexualized in a way that crossed into sexual violence, or it somehow turned racist (which I think would be hard to do unintentionally).
On the horrors of war, if your intended theme is “it’s bloody and terrible and we mustn’t grow fond of it,” you’re highly unlikely to write something that would be taken as glorifying genocide.
At the end of the day, the content guidelines basically exist to keep rape fantasies and Nazi apologia out of the HG canon. If you’re not trying to write those, I wouldn’t stress about it. Like Gower said, there are no guarantees until you submit a draft… but CoG doesn’t have a track record of turning lots of people down.
I did reply to the email you sent into our support address, and this thread gives a bit more clarity on what you were asking. In short, if you want to submit to HG you should focus on writing and finishing a game that hits our benchmarks for submission. It needs to pass quicktest and randomtest, and once it is submitted we will put it through a review to make sure it isn’t “grossly offensive”.
If we find that the content meets the metrics for “grossly offensive” (which are subjective because the same type of content can have very different treatment from author to author), then I will notify the author and request specific changes be made. So far I have not had any issues with authors making these edits.
The most important point in all of this is that you should finish your game with your vision in mind, and then submit it. All of your concerns about content will come after that.