Your friendly host kaons here to write the equivalent of a blog on game ratings for RPGs. After helping Caeleste out, I realized that most RPGs use a system called rpgrating.com/ . It's a decent system, and I like that it uses elements specific to content found on RPGs, but there are a few issues with it. So, as a host, I decided to stick to ESRB ( www.esrb.org ) ratings for RPG websites.
- ESRB is a VOLUNTARY system where you can submit your game, app or site to a committee to get an official rating.
- The United States FCC calls the system a "success"
- It looks at the game overall and takes into account topics such as sex, alcohol, drug use, murder, violence, etc to assign ratings based on the recommended age required for a child to play.
- ESRB DOES rate board games, table-top RPGs and other types of very similar games to play-by-post and even HARPG.
- It gives clear, defining age lines for those allowed to access your content. ALL internet content, however, must be 13 years or older due to COPPA laws. So, really the "tipping point" is that there must be adult permission for children under the age of 17 to access "M" rated content.
- ESRB applies primarily to commercial content, so the fact that no money is made from these RPG websites helps to limit your liability.
- Your content has to be applied to a specific storefront to get an international rating, and since our content isn't commercialized, it's impossible to get an official rating.
- You can get an official ESRB rating, which is mainly for US consumers.
To close, I think that ESRB ratings are mainly better because they are widely recognized. If someone sees that "M" on your site, it's recognized that there WILL be mature content displayed. This does NOT EXCLUDE YOU from having an AGE VERIFICATION PROCESS! Think about it! Video games are sold online with age authentication through credit cards or in stores where you have to show your ID. Therefore, as a site owner, YOU are RESPONSIBLE for age verification PRIOR to users being able to access your site.
There are free resources out there for age verification, but all sites hosted by me are getting a special MyBB plugin which age verifies and stores a browser cookie.
On a similar note, please take a moment to look into the following topics:
- Generate a Terms of Service! termly.io/ (also needs to be linked in the footer of your website!)
If your host is located in the EU or the UK, there may be ADDITIONAL rules due to GDPR and the data restrictions. It's important to note that you DO NOT sell user information to advertisers.
Laws are changing, and google will start making all HTTP sites as UNSAFE! It's very important that sites are served over HTTPS because of safety and security of your personal information, the safety of your database and the for all users and visitors to your site.
**** DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer! I cannot verify the legal content here - I've only linked what I've googled and give you information based on my best personal judgment.