itch.io currently doesn't have a proper content rating (or age rating) system. At the moment the only option we have is a NSFW toggle that's hidden away in the metadata tab. I'd like to introduce a better system for developers to self rate their games. I've only done some basic research so far, so I really appreciate any feedback you'd be willing to provide. I also don't claim to have any expert on this stuff, so if there's obvious things I'm missing please tell me.
To start with, you can read over this Wikipedia page to see what existing rating systems look like: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_content_rating_system
And this one in particular caught my attention: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Age_Rating_Coalition
Initially I was considering re-using an existing system, so that if any games get officially rated they can re-use that. But after more consideration, I'm leaning towards a simplified system for itch.io. I'm thinking of the following age groups, which are more similar to ESRB:
I felt like having a lot of granularity in the younger ages didn't really apply well to itch.io's material, especially since when you start to think about "is my game appropriate for a 6 year old" you stop thinking about content and maybe more about usability. itch.io doesn't really have content for young children either. It's more likely someone will pick a really young age as a joke, and I want to avoid that. Lastly, our TOS denies children under 13 from using the site. If things change in the future then I think we can update accordingly.
After selecting a age range, I'd like to have some checkboxes for content that might appear. ESRB calls these content descriptors and you can find their list on this page: https://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.aspx. For itch.io, once again, I want to keep things simple to prevent an overwhelming list of options. Here's what I'm thinking of for itch.io:
- Drug usage
- Explicit Sexual content
- Graphic violence
- Explicit language