Tuesday, May 23, 2006

[game] The end of modding ?

The recent ESRB rating change of Oblivion sounds like a very bad news for the moddoing community. It seems the ESRB has decided to judge the rating of a game according to user-created content; a bit like judging whether your web browser is suitable for children based on content it could display.

While I agree that user-created content raises some questions about children protection, I don't see why Bethesda (or any other company making moddable games, for that matter) would be held responsible for this content. The content has first to be downloaded from somewhere: a web site. It is not available form the start. It is not distributed by the company (to my knowledge). So, it is very much like downloading mature content from the web: The browser software displaying it is not responsible for the content; whoever puts the content online is.

There is no difference between a moddable game and a video player or web browser: All are displaying content. Whether the downloaded content is suitable or not for children is not the responsability of the company making the software. While this is obvious for a video player, the bad understanding of what a game and a moddable software are just prevent most people to see this.

If things continue this way, I am afraid most game companies will start to remove modding tools -- And that will be a huge loss to the community (How many players started to learn coding by modding games ?).