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Lakitu's world: proactive and reactive regulation in video games

Keri Grieman

Keywords: regulation; age rating; PEGI; playability; communication; online multiplayer; design

Regulating a population is difficult, and no easier when that population has grenade launchers. Video game publishers and developers face the unenviable challenge of balancing their game's playability with regulating the individuals within it. This is done proactively (by game design) and reactively (by punishing or rewarding player behaviour). What players encounter affects the game's age rating, but also the player's desire to continue playing. Even games focusing on violence impose taboos on unsportsmanlike behaviour, and real-world referential behaviour or attacks. Games can become known for their toxic player behaviour, rather than the gameplay itself. In examining pro and reactive regulation in online multiplayer games, such as type of communication and moderation, there appears to be a correlation between highly proactive in-game regulation and low age ratings, and highly reactive in-game regulation and high age ratings. While further study is needed, this suggests potential avenues for future regulatory efforts.

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