We opened up our online arcade about 11 months ago. The arcade served several purposes:
- As a proof of concept – HTML5 really is capable of some brilliant games
- As a promotional tool for Construct 2 to demonstrate its abilities as a game engine
- As a place for indie game developers to upload their creations and receive feedback from the community – a year ago HTML5 distribution opportunities were a lot rarer than they are now
- As a way to attract casual gamers to our site to expose them to our brand and product
Its growth in popularity caught us a little off guard. In the last 11 months 1,200 games have been uploaded with a further 1,000 game updates. Over 210,000 unique players have played on our arcade with an estimated total of 1,500,000 game plays.
We’ve always intended for our website to be accessible to people of all ages. The arcade is perhaps something we’ve overlooked – there are some games in the arcade that are arguably not suitable for young children. Every now and then we receive an email from a concerned parent.
We’re also increasingly selling to schools and other educational institutes. We’ve met with a few educators, some of which have expressed their concern that our arcade as it stands may dissuade educational institutes from adoption of Construct 2.
We don’t want to stop people from being able to upload games that aren’t suitable for younger generations as some of these games are quite brilliant! Not only do they help expose the authors as talented game developers they also demonstrate Construct 2’s ability to produce top quality games.
However we do need to reach a compromise. We want our website to be a safe place for all ages to browse and for parents to be confident that Scirra is a safe place to visit.
We’re a very small team; there are currently 3 of us full time at Scirra at the moment (one of which is a full time artist). Moderating and classifying each game is out of the question – we simply do not have enough time to do it to a high, reliable and consistent standard.
There are two steps to this problem:
- How can we effectively and reasonably consistently classify games as being suitable for certain ages or not?
- Once games are classified, how do we prevent children from playing these games? (Is a simple warning screen enough?)
This is a difficult problem faced by many websites, and we're keen to find the right balance. We're considering ways we can solve this problem, but we also wanted to ask you, our community. How do you think we can best achieve content ratings in a fair and reliable way?