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jtrask

Censorship in online games for kids?

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Can anyone offer any information about language censorship in online children's games? I can think of the following possibilities right off the top of my head... 1. Canned phrases - IIRC, this was used in Disney's ToonTown. No risk of abuse, but limits the player an awful lot. 2. Filters - Gives freedom, but can be abused by simple tricks like "1337-speak", and doesn't prevent verbal abuse that doesn't involve censored words. 3. Moderated chat - Gives the player freedom, and there's no way they can work around the censorship. Unfortunately, reliable moderaters aren't free. Are there any methods I've forgotten? What have people found works/doesn't work in games that they've played/made? Thanks, Josh

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Original post by jtrask
1. Canned phrases - IIRC, this was used in Disney's ToonTown. No risk of abuse, but limits the player an awful lot.

Theres a good article on gamasutra that covers ToonTown's communication stuffage. IMHO its probably the best solution if you want to be totally safe, and has the nice side benifit of being easier for young kids. You've just got to have lots of different phrases / word bites to combine. :)

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Puzzle Pirates uses a combination of 2 and 3, as well as a "mute" ability, as well as a legal disclaimer preventing anyone under the age of 13 from playing the game.

Though personally, censorship is censorship. History has proven time and again that only evil has come from it. If shit suddenly becomes poop, you just have a different 4 letter bad word, and odds are the kids know all the bad words from school anyways.

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"Censorship is censorship" is of course true, and most of the time I would avoid it at all costs. This game I'm working on now, though, is meant to have online play for 6-14's, so I'll do what I must. I read the GS article on Toontown ( http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20040128/goslin_01.shtml , if anyone's interested), and I like what they've done there. Does anyone know of any drawbacks to that system?

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