Is All HobbyGameDev Content Rated G/PG? (Or: Can I Safely Share This Blog With Kids?)

Sep 12, 2011

Q: I’m interested in sharing your blog with my son, but I’m wondering if it is age appropriate. I haven’t seen any issues, but if you could give me a heads up I would appreciate it.

A: In general, I make an effort to keep all content on this blog youth-friendly. Since opinions vary about what is and is not age appropriate, I’ll enumerate here those topics on HobbyGameDev that potentially skirt the line.

I know that there are middle school students that read my blog, and so I have always made an effort to maintain appropriateness for readers in that age range. That is also roughly the age when I began making games, and I would have wanted to have access to this kind of material then without needing to be secretive about it.

That said, I unfortunately do not have an editor or publishing company to help ensure everything is strictly compliant with federal regulations or informal conventions for marketing towards a youth audience. The material here is not specifically targeted at younger readers, it is material written for readers of any age, I just do my best to keep family-friendly. In the off chance that you discover anything that doesn’t seem youth appropriate – though I really think the odds are slim – call my attention to it and if it makes sense to I’ll patch it up ASAP. It’s certainly never my intention, and a little reader assistance in identifying rough spots would always be appreciated.

I think the most edgy content on here might be:

  • In a few entries I show or discuss an iPhone game I developed titled iZombie Deathmarch. That game has mild graphic violence, including monsters that turn into splatters when defeated. Although the targets are mostly humanoid they are, of course, monsters. As a general theme within my own projects I tend to keep away from graphic human-vs-human violence in favor of combating machines, monsters, or abstractions.
  • In a few entries I go over the design of another iPhone game that I led the development team for: Alice in Bomberland. Although generally a casual, experimental gameplay project, it does include a few modernized references to drug use in keeping with Lewis Carroll’s background. Ex. the caterpiller’s weapon is a smoking baz-hooka, and when Alice gets the visions hooka powerup the screen applies a trippy hallucination effect. I do not, for what it’s worth, use illegal or recreational drugs myself, nor do I encourage their use.
  • A few entries describe or link to Transcend, my Flash and iOS game about Walden, which includes some Thoreau quotes skeptical of established authority and the business world.
  • As far as ideology is concerned: if the link on my name is followed from the blog’s about area in the corner, another link from there goes to my InteractionArtist series of tiny experimental gameplay projects that I developed daily for 7 months. A handful of those are vaguely political in nature, though still in classroom-safe words and imagery.
  • In a presentation I linked to that I did for my college game development group VGDev, with regard to decision making I refer to the French philosophy parable of Burdian’s Ass. It’s about a donkey (‘ass’) that starves from indecision over two equally appealing bales of hay. However I don’t otherwise use that word or other offensive language on this blog.

Otherwise, the only “adult” material that I cover would be of the variety more likely to bore or go over the head of (many, but certainly not all!) young readers than to pose any sort of language or behavioral/cultural concerns – teamwork and management strategies, research applications of game platforms, art (not-)games, and historical entries.

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