Repost – Ratings

Sorry about the long gap between updates.  I still haven’t figured out how to work regular updates into my normal schedule again.  Hopefully sometime soonish.

When designing and developing a game, it’s normal to have a target ESRB rating in mind.  Depending on the game’s target audience, you may want to make sure it doesn’t get rated higher than E or T.  While M games are certainly much more common, and popular, than they used to be, a M rating still limits your audience.  There are plenty of people who won’t buy a game (for themselves or others) if it has a M (or, in some cases, T) rating.  On the other hand, it’s pretty rare to find someone who won’t buy a game because the rating is too low (E or T instead of M).  And, honestly, anyone like that is an idiot.  Everyone has different tastes, sure, but thinking that you can’t enjoy a game because it doesn’t have a M rating is utterly ridiculous.

Even developers making M rated games need to be careful to avoid an AO rating, since that carries a pretty serious stigma, at least here in the US, and ensures that the game can’t be released on consoles or sold in any major retailer.  Though admittedly, it’s really difficult (though not impossible) to get an AO rating for anything other than graphic nudity and sex.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that I’m aiming for a T rating with Aurora’s Nightmare.  Due to the subject matter and themes of the story, not to mention blood in some of the art, it would be impossible to get an E rating.  On the other hand, M would limit the audience a bit more than I’d like and I’m pretty certain that nothing in Aurora’s Nightmare would push it to that level anyway.  I’d actually have to add more graphic violence and and/or some serious bad language for that to happen.  And, as I also mentioned in the past, I don’t plan on going the route a lot of Japanese visual novels do and adding some token sex scenes. I don’t have any strong interest in writing scenes like that and they wouldn’t enhance the story in any way.  I suppose that, in theory, having separate “all ages” and “mature audiences” versions of the game would be possible…but I’m not planning on it.

All that said, there’s a good chance that I won’t be getting Aurora’s Nightmare officially rated.  Getting a game rated costs money and Aurora’s Nightmare’s budget is fairly limited.  Steam doesn’t require ESRB ratings for its games and neither does Google (if I do an Android version).  Though if I decide on an eventual console release (dependent on budget, mainly), then a rating would probably be useful.