Moderation In All Things


Design Problem:

Players cannot engage with strong emotional content.

Design Solution:

Players can avoid strong emotional content so that they can continue to play the game at a moderated level of emotional challenge.

Related Patterns:

APX Design Drivers:

The above design problem can occur in the following contexts:

Players with mental health difficulties may need to avoid particular types of content.

Players who are neurodiverse may need to avoid surprises in the environment.

Players may prefer to avoid strong emotional content such as surprise, violence, gore, or sexual themes, for a variety of reasons.

Examples of this Pattern in Action

Reduce exposure to gore in Gears of War 4


In Gears of War 4, players have the option to remove the gore from player actions in the game. This setting applies to player encounters with enemy NPCs and other players (in multiplayer) and not the game’s cut-scenes or scripted set pieces. Available through the main menu of the game, the gore setting reduces blood, dismemberment, and other things related to gore. When players shoot or chainsaw enemy NPCs, blood is replaced with sparks.

This setting allows players to turn off gore so that they can reduce their consumption of violent content while still being able to enjoy a mature gameplay experience.

Filtering of profanity and vulgar language in Sunset Overdrive


Sunset Overdrive allows players to censor the profanities in the game by changing the vulgarity setting. Changing this setting causes profanity in the game’s dialogue to be replaced by “bleeps.” This change also affects how subtitling appears. Expletives are replaced by asterisks instead of being fully spelled out. If the expletive is a conjunction of other words, the explicit portion of the conjunction is replaced by asterisks.

Strong content warnings in Doki Doki Literature Club!


Upon booting Doki Doki Literature Club!, players are shown 4 screens that warn the player about content within the game. The first screen warns players that children and “those who are easily disturbed” are advised against playing the game.

The second screen follows with a disclaimer intended to promote a “safe experience” for potential players by presenting a warning for those living with anxiety or depression about the game’s sensitive content. This screen also includes a web link that players may visit for more information about the sensitive content in the game. If players visit this web link, a warning about spoilers is displayed and the player is directed to scroll further down the page for the complete list of content warnings. The bottom of the web page, warns players that the genre of the game is “horror” and that this may make it unsuitable for players who may be dealing with depression, suicidality, self-harm, and/or abuse. The notice goes on to state that the game’s portrayal of and references to the aforementioned mental health issues may be realistic and potentially disturbing to players. The notice warns that the game’s strong emotional content may not only be disturbing to players with the mental health issues stated prior and that players must consider the state of their own mental health before playing. The developers even state that players should avoid playing the game if the warning may apply to them.

Going back to the game, the third trigger warning screen asks players to confirm that their age is above 13 and to consent to the game’s potentially offensive content. Players must then choose “I agree” to continue. Following this confirmation, the game proceeds with a white screen once again repeating that the game may be inappropriate for children or players who may be “easily disturbed.” After this, players may access the main menu and begin playing.

References and Other Citations.