Sunday, December 29, 2019

What it means for parents

Ethical-Game is mostly for parents. It is for you to be able to trust what your kids are playing. Depending on the age of your kid, the ethical aspect of the content might not matter that much, but for that, you should always check what your kids are playing: anything above bronze should be ok at most ages (at least from the recommended age of the game), anything without anything could still be ok but could be fully unethical.

 A disclaimer: always watch what your kids are doing. And educate them on what they do. If you let them play games with In-App-Purchases (IAP), explain to them how it works, and the worth of it. Unlimited purchase of a virtual currency is not worth much (or anything), but costs actual money. The earlier they understand that the better. The same attitude is probably helping with everything digital: give them the tools to deal with them themself. As there will always be a time when you will not be able to control what they do. Make sure they are in control before!

But for the ethic of the product, everything from bronze means that the game will not bankrupt you. A bronze game could end-up quite a bit more expensive than the initial price but to a limit. Any game with unlimited IAP, so typically in-game money, will never get any badge. A silver badge means that the game will not cost much more than the initial price, but the initial price could be an unlock full game IAP: so the game will typically be free, but an IAP unlock the full game or remove the ads. A gold badge means that the price of the game is clearly known initially. IAP should be for significant additional content, not needed for the initial game, or small cosmetic/fun IAP if the price is low (especially if the game is not expensive too).

Of course, some different cases could occur. But the product badges means that the product is honestly sold. Examples would be:

Free game with IAP for removing ads, plus IAP for x2, plus IAP for skins: probably bronze. Silver if the IAPs are very cheap and/or very limited
Paid game with Ads and IAP for removing ads: bronze or nothing depending on the price.
Paid game with Ads: nothing.
Paid game without Ads or IAP: gold.
Paid game with DLC adding significant content but with some premium edition containing most of the DLCs but not all: silver or bronze, depending on the different prices.
Free game with unobtrusive ads: silver.
Free game with support IAP: gold, if the IAP is a one time purchase. Nothing if the IAP can be indefinitely bought.
Any game with in-game money (or diamond/ruby or anything) that can be bought indefinitely with actual money: nothing. Actually in the unethical category.

Introduction to Ethical Game

A Short Synthesis: everything from Bronze is good :). A game with Bronze (for buyers) and Bronze (for content) will not take all your money (but could quite a bit, still be careful!), and will not convey a bad message. But also a game with the bronze Piggy Bank will be ok in most case, the lack of Book label only means that parent supervision might be needed to some extend.

And a Disclaimer: to show up a label is at the responsibility of the seller, game publisher/studio/individual. To be allowed to use a label, the following rules for each rank of labels must be respected. If it were to not be respected, the label should be removed. If anybody finds a game with a label but not respecting it, please report it here. We will try to enforce it or add the game and the seller to the Hall of Shame.
As such, we cannot be held responsible if a label is misused. We don't want them to be misused but don't allow it, but we are not all-powerful to enforce it (yet :) ).

Hello all,
     Welcome to a new tentative of increasing the ethics of games. In the first time, it would concern customers/users/gamers side: if a game is not there trying to take all your money/time/energy.
The ethical aspect of the content is of course much more difficult to address, but we will try to some extent.

So, to help customers and support honest game builders, we propose a kind of label, actually one label about how the game deal with the customer, one about the content. In both cases, the existence of the label proves that this game is ok in that concern.
We define three levels of labels:

(All drawings by S├ębastien Lesage, font GlametrixBold by Gluk)

Dealing with customer/player/user:

- Bronze: no In-app purchases that can be repeated (so any buying of "game money"). Reasonable use of ads: they do not prevent playing the game. It is possible to remove the ads if they are a tiny bit obtrusive.

- Silver: In-app purchases are only cosmetic or offer a valid extension of the game for a reasonable price. No ads or very unobtrusive.


- Gold: In-app purchases offer a valid extension of the game for a reasonable price, or are cosmetic as support for the game, with a reasonable price (together). No ads.

Ethical content:

 - Bronze: The activity is neutral and the game does not show anything that could be unethical or address eventual unethical content with positive or educative answers.

- Silver: The activity is quite positive/educative and addresses eventual issues with ethical answers.

- Gold: The activity if clearly educative and allow the player to learn about ethics in the game's domain.

Furthermore, we define the opposite categories, where the games can simply be listed here (as I doubt they want these kinds of labels):

Dealing with customer/player/user:

- Okayish: In-app purchases can be repeated but are of a low amount. They are not presented very prominently. Ads are not too present and do not prevent a fluid usage of the game.
- Not nice: In-app purchases can be repeated and can go quite high *or* the ads are quite obtrusive. Removing the ads is offered but only partially remove them.
- Unethical: the game is barely playable without paying: In-app purchases go unreasonably high and are needed to play. Ads are very obtrusive.

Ethical content:

- Okayish: the activity is not quite ethical, but the game is rather neutral about it, or present it in a way that makes it better (like a cartoonish representation of violence).
- Not nice: the activity is not quite ethical and the game is fully going with it.
- Unethical: the activity is not ethical and seems to be fully ok with it.