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Using ESRB ratings for RPGs

Mon Jul 2, 2018, 1:37 PM by kaons:iconkaons:

** Update! eshye found this MUCH better ToS and Privacy Policy generator!


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 . 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 ( ) 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. 

But mainly:

Some limitations: 
  • 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: 

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. 

If you host with me, I help you guys with all of these things and HTTPS is standard :)

**** 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. 

091e03af1e7b1d5f230f885e747f04c3 by kaons

Skin by SimplySilent
Jeangal247 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2018
Alright so for those of us looking into making an RPG here on dA, would that site be better for those on here? As these aren't actual legit companies, and if that said RPG does go that far, would it be wise to switch to 
Also sites like Howrse, starstable, wizards101, etc. just ask for you to put in your birthday for their sites. Is that how they do an age verification process? Since they can't ask for ID or a credit card (unless you are buying something for them but usually those kinds of sites, to sign up and play is free it's just getting the "special things" is when it gets to money). Is that how those sites are protected? So for those of us here on dA doing/making RPG groups, if a minor (under 18) is in an RPG group that has adult content, what do we do about that? I know with these RPG's they can only control what goes into their galleries but can't really control what members are RPing to each other. Haven't even thought about the whole legal part of making/owning an RPG
kaons Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So as far as DA goes, you are under their ToS! Which means you have to adhere to their rules. 
This applies more to the groups outside of DA which are not subject to DA's ToS. 

Essentially, when you have a group or a website with users, it's the responsibility of the content makers to follow the law and protect those who are younger from adult content. DA already does this for you with the mature content filters :) 

And yes! Howrse, etc uses an age verification process that confirms your age before you are allowed to play! Basically, what it is is a contract. You are saying "yes, I am this age and I will not hold you liable if I see something offensive or adult". It's a "cover your ass" move. So that if some parent comes to bitch at you about their kid having read about someone cutting another horse's head off, you can be like "BUT LOOK, THEY SIGNED THE AGE VERIFICATION!"
Jeangal247 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2018
ah okay that makes sense. I figured the stuff on dA was different, didn't even think about the adult conduct filters. That makes me feel better.

Yeah that makes sense, cause otherwise they'd get in trouble. I take it that contract is probably in that little "I read and agree to the terms of agreement" stuff that no one reads lmao. Thanks for answering my questions!
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Submitted on
July 2, 2018


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