Miriam Ruiz
random thoughts on technology and life











{June 25, 2007}   Classifying games for children

Parents and educators should be aware about what kind of games their children play. In the current state, this means that the parents must be gamers themselves to know about that, because there’s no way of knowing whether a game includes sex, violence, sexism, etc. until you play it.

The idea is to provide a way of classifying games so that parents can know in advance whether the game involves certain culture-dependent controversial stuff, and being able to use that when considering what games they want their children to play, or what games they want to play themselves. Not that I’m the proper one to make the classification myself, but it should be done by teachers and educators, who I think are the best suited for this kind of task. In any case I’m willing to lead and coordinate the project, with the support of just some Spanish teachers for the moment. I hope that in the future teachers of other cultures will like to get involved too and the system can evolve to a multicultural one.

The result should be as culturally independent as possible, but that would only be possible if members of different cultures help. There’s no way to provide a totally objective classification of moral stuff, so instead of trying to make the classification as aseptic as possible, it might make more sense to make it the other way round: trying to have all the different possible points of view, even when some of them might not even fit my own beliefs.

Links:



Kevin Mark says:

Do the above rating systems and the company behind them get a copy of the game and some compensation to review the game for a certification? Is the rating required for ‘commercial games’ and not for (most) FLOSS games? Would schools only want to use rated games?



Miry says:

I just put those rating systems (there are quite a few more, if you follow the links in the Wikipedia) just as a guide towards what we want to achieve. I haven’t contacted them, and I have no clue about whether they would do it free for us. My idea was to rely on educators to develop our own system, somehow similar to those but without the trademark. They should be the ones reviewing the games. I guess the technical part will almost certainly rely on Enrico’s DebTags.



Miry says:

Definitely going ahead with this project: http://wiki.debian.org/KidsRating



Ben Armstrong says:

Great to see you taking the lead on this, Miry. I have linked the project at http://wiki.debian.org/DebianJr



Miry says:

Thanks for your support Ben! :)

I’ll probably be releasing soon a GUI tool to review games, based in Enrico’s libept and DebTags, with support for KidsRating’s tags, at least those related to violence and sexual contents, that are the most mature of all. There’s quite a big amount of work left until all the set of tags are defined anyway, but at least it’s a starting point :)

I’ll weblog about it when I can :)



Christof says:

Hallo,

thread ends in 2007, maybe the rating project either?
My question: in the current update process on a debian machine i saw a new game named dopewars.
The description goes: dopewars – Make a fortune dealing drugs on the streets of New York

UNIX rewrite of the MS-DOS program of the same name, which in turn was inspired
by John E. Dell’s “Drug Wars” game. You have one month to buy and sell drugs on
the streets of New York, the aim being first to pay off your debt to the loan
shark and then to make a fortune. And if you have to shoot a few cops in the
process, well …
The game includes TCP networking allowing you to meet (and
shoot) other human drug dealers.

I asked on the net “Do we need such programm in the debian distribution” and got the hint to your site. (Charles Plessy
Debian-Med packaging team)
Charles meant you could add it to your rating project.
If your project has ended you can perhaps give me a hint to another one
Thanks for your effort



Miry says:

Hi Christof,

The project has definitely not been abandoned, I’m still working on it. I finished the tag definition a couple of weeks ago, and I have the 1st release candidate for them ( http://www.miriamruiz.es/tags/vocabulary.gz ), but I need them to be reviewed by teachers or so before doing an official release. The home page of the project is http://wiki.debian.org/OpenRating , even though it’s just me for the moment.

There’s a tag called rating:theme::drugs that is exactly about that, so thanks for the hint!

The project is going terribly slow, as I’m not having any help and I’m doing it just on my own. For the moment the tags are supported in GoPlay!, but I have not started classifying the games until I consider the 1st release of tags as finished.

My next steps will be to write a rationale of the tags, to try to have some other people reviewing them, classify some games so that I can provide an example with them and release a package including the tags and the classification. It’s not gonna happen for Lenny anyway, lets see if I can get it for Lenny++

If you’re interested, your help would be greatly appreciated :)

Thanks a lot,
Miry



Christof says:

Hi Miry,

First of all thanks for your efforts.

I unintentionaly started a thread on
linux.debian.project
http://groups.google.com/group/linux.debian.project/browse_thread/thread/d8b5b6f7543413d7#
and got there few helpful but even more strange comments.

Like you i have limited time available, beeing apart from my job, involved in local politics.

But i will keep having an eye on offending software in the debian distribution. I can offer perhaps assistence on german text files (perhaps even french)

thanks

Christof



Miriam Ruiz says:

[...] Some time ago I started developing a system to classify free games for Debian, based in Enrico’s DebTags. Up to now I’ve been able to develop a basic set of tags to classify the games, so it’s time to start tagging the games. I’d really like to get as much feedback as possible, especially from teachers, educators, parents and in general people that work with and study about children. [...]



Seegras says:

I think this is an interesting project, but the point I’m thinking is most interesting is the “Abilities” part. Because this can be broadened to give hints to people with disabilities.

I’m a sceptic where things like nudity is concerned (I don’t think this even belongs to the same category as pornography), and swear words.

I consider full nudity appearing in arts (Michaelangelo), recreation (skinny dipping) and education (well, sex education, what else) to be quite natural, as well as some other things (breast feeding) even for the smallest childern (heck, those are the ones breast-feeding is for). Whereas I am aware that some other cultures apply “nudity” even to some accidently revealed nipple. Or even other cultures which even have problems with visible ankles, or even female faces. There is no consensus.

Being a european I also consider swear words to be an integral part of our identity (yes, OUR, I’ve yet to know a european country where swearing is not commonplace), and I’m very aware of wildly differing attitudes towards what is really hardcore and what is soft. My normal vocabulary will make USians blush, the british, german and swiss will think its quite normal, and the serbians won’t consider it being swearing at all (whereas I consider serbian swearing as very offensive). And I think this is impossible to categorize.



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