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What I mean by this is - is it legal to make a game which asks (or proves) your age during install or on initial load, and then dynamically sets the content to the players age.
For example if the players is under-age then all swear word assets are replaced with there PG13 equivalents.
Or the same with blood and gore.

Does this make sense?
Also what are the communities opinions or feelings about this?
(note for locality I am referring to UK law but laws and opinions for any other country is encouraged!)

(ps i can't create tags)

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

IANAL but you can certainly ask the player to enter their age and set up some options as a result, or just give the players options for gore & language that they can manually set. Several games do this already allowing you to turn off, or at least tone down blood.

However if you are asking if you can get a lower rating from PEGI/ESRB for this I'm going to make an educated guess of "No". They are going to rate you based on the fully enabled gore/language version of your game. If you look at it from their perspective, even if your game does really tone down elements when given the correct information, there is no way to be sure that players will be honest. So if they put a lower restriction on the title and then little Jimmy says he's an adult and gets full gore, parents will not be happy.

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Thanks, was my hunch. –  Adam Naylor Aug 25 '10 at 6:56
    
Parental controls, especially password-protected ones, do affect a game's rating. I think WoW is rated Teen, but the user-generated content (chat text, names, etc) is definitely not. –  davenpcj Aug 25 '10 at 21:34
    
Most MMOs have the rating modifier "Experience may change during online play", even though the only offline play is the login screen. –  coderanger Aug 25 '10 at 23:50
3  
All online titles that have gone through the ratings process in recent years have the "Experience may change..." text. The ratings of a game are based on the content on disc, not what users might do with that content. –  wkerslake Aug 26 '10 at 0:17
    
Your game can even be rated based on content which is impossible to access without modding. –  Philipp Apr 20 at 0:49

I don't think the ratings board would rate the age down because you set content down. If an underaged person is playing the game, then they should've been aware that the rating is too high.

By all means, add in an option somewhere to tone the content down; could be useful for if a properly aged person is playing in the vicinity of small children.

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I agree with wkerslake, but I don't think that should discourage you from doing what you describe.

I would allow the user to be able to change the 'gore' settings manually, but set the defaults based on the age of the user.

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I just realized I should have put this in an answer.

Parental controls, especially password-protected ones, do affect a game's rating.

I think WoW is rated Teen, but the user-generated content (chat text, names, etc) is definitely not. But they're subscription based, I believe they may use credit card data to do age verification for subscribers.

Most online games carry that "experience may change during online play" rider, which is a fancy way of saying "other players can and will spew filth endlessly". Seems that players are far more creative when coming up with profanity than profanity filters are in eliminating it in any event.

Certainly you could push the age verification aspects out of the game, distribute it in Locked-to-teen mode, and do something more industry standard for age verification, like sell a separate "Mature" edition, or unlock codes, or leverage some commercial age verification service.

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You cannot legally store anyone's age, name, email, address etc. if they are under 13. So just make it so that you cannot join if you are under the age of 13.

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