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It seems that heated threads periodically spring up discussing potentially offensive content in games, particularly ones that are classed as family games (I've seen threads on Citadels, 7 Wonders and Schrille Stille, for example). I think it would be helpful if there was some field for games which contained things that people may find offensive about that game. This could either be in the form of a poll like we've got now for subdomain classification, or an open-ended wiki resembling, say, Netflix's parental guide, which could provide more details about the nature of the objectionable (to some) content.
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Do you mean something beyond what the existing wiki pages provide?

Schrille Stille
Citadels
7 Wonders

Agreed that it would be useful for these to be linked by default from game entries.

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toh! wrote:
Do you mean something beyond what the existing wiki pages provide?


Yes. I think it would mostly be useful if it were its own section so that the people who don't care can ignore it. I don't think "has artwork on two cards that some people find offensive" really belongs next to the awards, microbadges and online play links for Citadels and 7 Wonders (and apparently no one else does either, since those pages don't mention anything about it).
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Of course, the question is: "what's offensive"? A list of everything that someone finds offensive in a game could be extremely long, and entirely subjective.

Consider Dominion: We've heard lots of dislikes for the Witch / Curse part. Sometimes, the Chapel too. The attack cards get a lot of objections from people who dislike confrontation. Some object to the medieval or fantasy-ish theme. Where do you draw the line?

As a poll, someone would have to be able to add new items, or else the initial poll would have to be VERY thorough. As a wiki, an "objectionable content" list could easily become a dustbin of complaints about the game, which would remove any usefulness which it actually has.
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Wonderful enhancement. For every game, I could see a poll with each game which looks something like this:
Poll
This game contains questionable or inappropriate content in the following areas (particularly when playing with young children or multi-age groups):
Language
Sex
Violence
Racism/Sexism
Adult Themes
      14 answers
Poll created by Randy Cox

Just like we have age and number of player recommendation polls today, this one would also be available, but easily ignored, but would provide content for those who seek it.

Of course, there is an implied "In your opinion" preceding the question, just as there always is for polls.
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dcclark wrote:
Of course, the question is: "what's offensive"? A list of everything that someone finds offensive in a game could be extremely long, and entirely subjective.

Consider Dominion: We've heard lots of dislikes for the Witch / Curse part. Sometimes, the Chapel too. The attack cards get a lot of objections from people who dislike confrontation. Some object to the medieval or fantasy-ish theme. Where do you draw the line?

As a poll, someone would have to be able to add new items, or else the initial poll would have to be VERY thorough. As a wiki, an "objectionable content" list could easily become a dustbin of complaints about the game, which would remove any usefulness which it actually has.


All fair points.

If using a poll, I think we could probably limit to things that rating boards around the world have generally accepted as things worth pointing out (Randy has touched on several with his sample). The pros of this are that it would be much more streamlined, with the con being what you alluded to: that there would be things left out, since offense is so subjective.

If using a wiki, I would have no problem with it being on the longish side if it's comprehensive. It never occurred to me that people might be offended by Dominion, but now that you mention it, I've known some people over the years who would've been very upset by the things you're mentioning. I think information is a great way to prevent censorship by empowering people to avoid things they don't like, and I doubt any of these would be so long as to be unreadable. I don't often read the Netflix parental guides, but I've seen a few things in there that I consider totally inane...however, obviously enough people take issue with them that they deemed it worthy of mention, so who am I to judge what bothers people?

I would hope that people would be able to draw their own lines as to what they think others would find relevant (I, for example, find The Game of Life offensive, but I'm well aware that's just me, so I wouldn't add anything to a wiki for it), but perhaps you're right that it would turn into a mess/flame war.
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I'm against the wiki notion simply because it's free-form. I know that leaves out people like me who would vote for "Offensive because it's too pro-religion" or "Offensive because artwork depicts smokers" but that's OK. Why? Well, because there are general areas which are "hot button" issues that people consider to be bellwethers of appropriate content. And I understand that religious content and stogie artwork aren't on the top of most people's minds when they think about content inappropriate for 8-year-olds or 98-year-old churchmarms.
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I both like and dislike the idea. I'm sure I'd like the discussions that would follow - I included in my Memoir 44, Downfall of Pompeii and Dust reviews commentary on the objectionableness of elements of the themes.

However,

I worry that it would be more divisive than constructive. Listing subjective value judgments might feel like moral judgments. Likewise a system that used votes would only uphold the majority's values while quashing the minority's values.

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monkeyhandz wrote:
Listing subjective value judgments might feel like moral judgments. Likewise a system that used votes would only uphold the majority's values while quashing the minority's values.
Valid concerns. But I think a poll is the least divisive because it's the least personal. I mean, a wiki can have people actively slam a game for some seemingly silly reason ("there are thin-wasted women on the cards, and that's unnatural..."). But a poll would just show that of people who bothered to vote a certain percent say there is content which is objectionable due to violence and another certain percent say there is sexist content. The reader can make inferences from there.

This does mean we'd need another line on the poll: "No objectionable material." Then the only fear is ballot box stuffing by the anarchist wing, who want everything to be voted as A-OK. :)
 
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Randy Cox wrote:


This does mean we'd need another line on the poll: "No objectionable material."


Heterosexism (Or similar), politically sensitive and blasphemy might also be required...

 
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I too am against putting this into a wiki. We'll talk about it and see if it's worth making a poll.
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The site already has tools for such crusades. Simply create a GeekList. Call it "These Games Have Potentially Objectionable Content".

In your GeekList you can list every game you think has objectionable content. You can also open up the list to others so that they can also add games that you may not yet be aware of. The great thing about this is that your GeekList will appear as a link on the page for each game on your list. This link appears in the GeekList section for that game entry which people will clearly see and say "Ah, someone thinks this game may have objectionable content. I should look into that."

Also, there is nothing like a list to catch attention and to incite debate and controversy, which is generally what you want when you are trying to alert people to the fact that something contains objectionable content.

The tools are here, use them.
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I think a poll is a good idea. I think a Wiki potentially causes more problems than it solves.

I personally don't care about objectionable content, for the most part, but I care very much when it is found in a game that is listed and promoted on the site as family-friendly. And this seems like a simple way to address that concern.
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blindspot wrote:
The site already has tools for such crusades.
No, I'm afraid we don't.

A geek list just shows that one person, somewhere, somehow, found something objectionable. It could be that I flagged Power Grid because it promotes coal burning power plants or that someone else flagged Princes of Florence because it glorifies subjugating scholars in Italy. Whatever.

Geeklists are neat, but they don't serve a purpose here because:

- when looking at a particular game (say, Power Grid), it's nigh impossible to find that the game has been flagged without paging through gazillions of list entries
- they allow people to do what I just said
- they are only even marginally visible if they receive tons of thumbs, which isn't something child-game-oriented lists typically do

The only real way to do it is to have a poll on each game page. Then the data is visible in the same place and wackos won't distort the data too much.
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Randy Cox wrote:

- when looking at a particular game (say, Power Grid), it's nigh impossible to find that the game has been flagged without paging through gazillions of list entries
- they allow people to do what I just said
- they are only even marginally visible if they receive tons of thumbs, which isn't something child-game-oriented lists typically do

The only real way to do it is to have a poll on each game page. Then the data is visible in the same place and wackos won't distort the data too much.

Your arguments against the GeekList form could be summarized as "GeekLists are too subjective and marginal and thus hard to find." My counter argument would be that its only true if the substantive content of the GeekList is subjective and marginal to begin with.

When a GeekList is well done, objective (there are quite a number of fact-based GeekLists), and consensual even, it proves its merit and interest through thumbs, it will rise to the top and be noticed.

The OP's enhancement mentions a rating system like Netflix. We've got "User Suggested Ages". That would seem to me to cover just as much territory as Netflix.

Also, there is nothing at all stopping anybody from adding qualitative info to the "More Information"/wiki area about whatever objectionable content potentially exists in a given game. The wiki is there for you to use as well. If the OP does not think the information is appropriate for that space, what makes him think it's appropriate for fact-oriented main "Information" box? "Potentially" objectionable is by definition not based in fact, but in opinion.
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Sounds like this is something that could just use the same guidelines that they use for video games. If you look at any of the ratings on those, they list exactly why it got such and such rating (usually things like graphic violence, language, sexual themes, depictions of drug use and the like). Seems like grabbing that list (it's got to exist somewhere) and applying it in poll form would be the best solution to this. You're not going to cover every conceivable thing that may offend someone, but you'll get the majority.
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Orph wrote:
Sounds like this is something that could just use the same guidelines that they use for video games. If you look at any of the ratings on those, they list exactly why it got such and such rating (usually things like graphic violence, language, sexual themes, depictions of drug use and the like).

So you think this info should be added for video games as well? At least with some video games there is an actual and widely recognized rating system out there. When that info is listed on a video game it IS an actual fact that the label is on the video game. I could get behind the idea of transferring THAT info onto VGG because it would represent the FACT that the game was released with such a label.

I'm not sure WHO decides just what goes on video games rating label, if it is self-reporting, or decided by some board or what? No such widely recognized convention currently exists for board games.
 
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blindspot wrote:
Orph wrote:
Sounds like this is something that could just use the same guidelines that they use for video games. If you look at any of the ratings on those, they list exactly why it got such and such rating (usually things like graphic violence, language, sexual themes, depictions of drug use and the like).

So you think this info should be added for video games as well? At least with some video games there is an actual and widely recognized rating system out there. When that info is listed on a video game it IS an actual fact that the label is on the video game. I could get behind the idea of transferring THAT info onto VGG because it would represent the FACT that the game was released with such a label.

I'm not sure WHO decides just what goes on video games rating label, if it is self-reporting, or decided by some board or what? No such widely recognized convention currently exists for board games.


Right, which is why the proposal to a) borrow the video game convention's terms, and b) make it a poll makes sense. You use a structure that's already in place and serving a need, thus has some claim to legitimacy and usefulness. But you allow the user base to flag things based on their own opinions, so you get something tailored to THIS community.

It's no less (or more) fact-based than the WEIGHT and the PLAYS BEST WITH metrics that already exist on each game's page.
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Well good luck. This is just a another crusade and an attempt to legitimize that crusade by seeking Admin development priority to put up, front and center, information that by, the OP's own statement, is easy enough to find. If this gets implemented and takes time from something better, then censorship will have a victory. Out.
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blindspot wrote:
If this gets implemented and takes time from something better, then censorship will have a victory. Out.
Duly noted.
 
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blindspot wrote:
Well good luck. This is just a another crusade and an attempt to legitimize that crusade by seeking Admin development priority to put up, front and center, information that by, the OP's own statement, is easy enough to find. If this gets implemented and takes time from something better, then censorship will have a victory. Out.


Sorry you feel that way.

I actually didn't say it's easy to find - indeed, I think it's difficult to find now, since threads discussing it tend to get derailed and RSPed.

I also don't understand how this is censorship. Providing information so that people can make informed decisions != censorship - the opposite, I would say. No one is suggesting that things be removed from the database. Calling any attempt to provide information in a clear place "censorship" is actually enabling the crusaders, whose primary objection seems to be "WHY IS THIS LABELED AS A FAMILY GAME???".

I don't really have much of a dog in this fight; it was just an idea that came to me. I posted it in the still-ongoing-months-later SS thread, and there were people on both sides of that argument who thought it was a good idea, so I wanted to share it here.
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Quote:
then censorship will have a victory



I'm sorry, you don't understand what censorship means. But, to each his own. I hope this gets implemented, as it seems like the module to do so (polls) already exists - surely this wouldn't be a significant amount of development time/effort.
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blindspot wrote:
I'm not sure WHO decides just what goes on video games rating label, if it is self-reporting, or decided by some board or what? No such widely recognized convention currently exists for board games.

VGG does have fields for content advisory ratings as part of each release, where the ratings are transferred by users from physical media or by searching external online databases (such as the ESRB). VGG releases are the taxonomic equivalent of the versioning system on BGG.

If you're curious where the ratings come from, they're generally voluntary industry groups formed in an effort to preempt government regulation.

Content advisories on BGG would need to be applied per-version, since graphics and other content may change between editions of a particular game.

These systems work best when they're minimalist. The RSAC had categories for violence, sexuality, and strong language, to which the ESRB adds gambling and alcohol/tobacco/other drug references. Those are probably a good place to start if you're looking to inform people about the most typical areas of concern in Western societies. I would personally add a category for religious content.

Informed consent is always a reasonable goal and a rating system is an interesting idea for achieving it, but it's also a potential can of worms.

Edit:typo
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Seems like a bad idea to me. Almost like you're asking for a bunch of threads to be created whining about censorship, and how people can be offended by anything. I created a geeklist a few years back about games that had content that offended my family, and I'm gun-shy to this day about ever bringing the subject up again (because of the firestorm of nay-sayers that berated me and my family.) So I'm not seeing the positive in putting this information front-and-center on the game page.
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toh! wrote:
Informed consent is always a reasonable goal and a rating system is an interesting idea for achieving it, but it's also a potential can of worms.


Ain't that the truth.

To respond to another part of your post, and I suppose to the "crusade" analogy for this whole idea, in case anyone is judging me/this idea based on my microbadges, I'd support having religious content in the poll. It doesn't bother me (even when the religion isn't mine), but I think it's good information to have, and it's come up a couple of times now just in this thread, so it must be something important to people.

(Not implying that you're judging, toh!; your comment just made me think of it.)
 
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