Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
08 July 2007
Call the ESRB!
Today Josh has a new post on the racist Forza Motorsport 2 user-generated content issue. I'd pinged him the other day because I thought it fit with his warnings almost two years ago that ESRB ratings (or re-ratings) based on user modifications are ill-considered. I think the best quote comes from Todd Hollenshead of id Software from two years ago:
If the ESRB is going to put a burden on publishers and developers that requires policing any end user created content that may contain pornographic material, then developers like id, Valve, Epic, and others who actively support the mod community may have to reconsider how open we make our games to changes. In such a case, the ESRB would effectively be requiring us to throw out the baby with the bath water as far as modified content goes. Either way, I think developers and publishers are entitled to understand the ratings process, and in such a high-profile case, understand why the rating was changed so that we may plan accordingly.
That last sentence is doubly important because it is the same feeling many have after the recent Manhunt 2 flap -- what are the guidelines and how do we know where the boundaries are? (I think it's clear Rockstar knew the boundaries and intentionally crossed them in that case, which is why I'd ask them to lie in the bed they've made.) For user-generated content, there needs to be something more useful than the current "game experience may change online" tag which I'd guess the ESRB feels covers the Forza 2 marketplace.

The ESRB needs a tag that says the game is subject to modification and such modifications could place the game outside the boundaries of its nominal rating. As Josh says, help the parents understand the situation.

For posterity, the original GameCloud page quoting Hollenshead is gone. You can find an Internet Archive version of it here.

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--Matt Matthews at 16:36
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