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Lets talk about a content/age rating system for Sticky

A topic by leafo created Jul 02, 2018 Views: 11,424 Replies: 99
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Admin (1 edit) (+29) 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:

And this one in particular caught my attention:

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 I'm thinking of the following age groups, which are more similar to ESRB:

  • Everyone
  • 13+
  • 16+
  • 18+

I felt like having a lot of granularity in the younger ages didn't really apply well to'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. 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: For, once again, I want to keep things simple to prevent an overwhelming list of options. Here's what I'm thinking of for

  • Drug usage
  • Explicit Sexual content
  • Graphic violence 
  • Explicit language

Content descriptors are a lot more useful than trying to decide what's appropriate for age X in hundreds or thousands of cultures across the world. I'd add gore (though that could fall under graphic violence) and nudity (because that's orthogonal to sexual content). Hope this helps!


Thanks for the feedback, I didn't consider an approach that doesn't use age ranges. One of the side effects of this project is that we'll be introducing an age gate for adult content, so there needs to be some cutoff point for "adult."

(1 edit) (+14)

My suggestion would be checkboxes for common bulletpoints, with fields for adding additional information. I'd avoid including a "severity" or judgement call on those bulletpoints - "Sexual Content" instead of "Explicit Sexual Content", since details are often highly circumstantial.

We'd end up with "Violence" (chosen from bulletpoint) - "Contains one instance of low fidelity gore" (entered by developer into a text field).

Would also, for accessibility purposes, suggest including a highlighted checkbox for flashing lights/photosensitive epilepsy.


Thanks for the feedback. I opted to go for a "severe" violence & co. because I think without the qualifier those terms are too board. I really want to focus on helping people identify when a specific aspect of a game could be disturbing. Having a developer mark their game as having just "violence" is broad, and really open wide ranges of subjective assessment. Regardless though, this is a self-rating system for developers. The accuracy of the ratings is never going to be perfectly consistent.


Why not use existing rating system like the IARC?

developers like me who have their game on Google Play could just re-use the rating they already have (it's required on Google Play) so it would be instant.


I mentioned IARC and why I didn't want to use it directly in the original post.


Ah OK, your system seems good then!


I feel like there's a strong overlap here for a content warning system. Maybe something like the tagging system but for content warnings and then have the age range options be based specific tags from that but overridable by uploaders?


I never got the use of ages. Of course there's legal ages for different things in different places at different thresholds (way too many to keep up with) and there's outright bans of things in some places. It seems to me it would be simpler to just have opt-ins for various types of content where the user has to confirm that the content is legal for them.... especially when there are so so many different types of content that is regulated around the world


Thanks for the feedback. I know content rating systems can get very complicated with many regional laws and guidelines. My initial plan is to get something minimal to account for the average cases (but maybe that's a pipe dream). I want to have a section that goes on the main project edit page so people will see it and fill it out without having to go through sub-pages. If it's something very complicated though then they're likely to skip it.

I strongly agree :)


Something user/downloader side as well to flag games for review if they are not tagged properly would probably not go amiss... but that would require someone to go looking at things being flagged and might get used to harass someone (either the dev or folks...)  I do not know how the bigger sites handle these things, but it might be worth studying them.

As far as the uploader side, a simple check or combo box on the main page that enables the content tags in an easy manner, similar to the current tags would be probably the easiest way to implement this.

(As for users under 13 getting content from the site, older people could choose to download games for their children/younger siblings, so an E for everyone category wouldn't be a problem and might help them filter out things inappropriate to a really young person...)


We already have a reporting system for projects with a option to report something as classified incorrectly. This could be used for content rating as well. We haven't had any  issues with people abusing it, and we can generally spot abuse pretty easily.


I think some sort of content ratio would be a great idea.

I'm not a big fan of the age-based content ratio, simply for the fact that it does not tell me much about the game. On the other hand, a tag based rating (gore, sex, nudity, drug usage, depression, self-harm, etc etc) would be much more useful IMHO.


I see two distinct issues:

  • The current NSFW tagging option is not being used as much as it should due to it being hidden as metadata
  • The current NSFW tagging option, regardless of its visibility, is too vaguely defined, as people have different definitions for what constitutes NSFW content

To me, both these have individual answers. Let's look at the first one. I went to a game that I believe should be marked as NSFW, which was You Must be 18 or Older to Enter. Nowhere on this page is a warning flagged for NSFW content, nowhere in any expandable section is this apparent (the developer did include tags for Erotic and Porn, however), and nowhere on the page when I download the game am I warned of its potential content. Only in reading the game's description and its title am I made aware that this game might not be appropriate for all ages. To me, that is an issue on the front-end design and the user experience, but that is a bit out of scope for this comment.

I propose we move the current NSFW checkbox from metadata to the main page where you edit the title, description, etc. For now this would be a simple checkbox, just as it is already. In making this move, though the definition of what constitutes NSFW may still be arbitrary, it should at least lead to more developers selecting the option, thus increasing the set of games on itch tagged NSFW.

After some time passes, statistics can be aggregated. How many new games uploaded were tagged NSFW versus before? How many older games that were not tagged NSFW had updates and then were tagged NSFW as a result of the change in visibility? To me, this is useful information in understanding how developers currently interact with the tools that already exist. While on this thread we have some limited insight and suggestions, I think I am most interested in understanding why a developer would click the NSFW button. What content did they feel defined NSFW? We can speculate on the obvious ones like nudity, but perhaps in probing the developers who do have games marked NSFW, we can better understand their decision making process. We can similarly probe users (with accounts) who play NSFW games, and survey them as well. Naturally, the surveys should be anonymous.

In probing for this information, we can then better learn what filters for NSFW should exist. As stated before, nudity is an obvious one, but I believe some not-so-obvious options exist in this space, too. Once an encompassing set of NSFW filters/tags is determined, then the developer dashboard can be updated such that those fields are available.

I would rather have a static set of NSFW filters, ones that the developer cannot add to, unlike the freeform and very arbitrary tagging system that exists currently. This is because if I want to filter out certain NSFW games or books, I wish to do so rigorously. If everybody can tag things arbitrarily, then somebody can tag something with a typo, or include a specific tag that I may not have heard of, whereas rigid filters like "nudity" or "drug use" are more universal.

I do not think specifying age guidelines like ESRB is a good idea unless forced by law. If the law forces this decision, then a much more rigorous process must be taken, akin to Google Play's questionnaire all developers must fill out for their games. The resultant ratings that emerge differ by country, sometimes in surprising ways, and the entire process is slow and not great to go through. It already is daunting for a developer to update their game and fill out every field that exists, but I would not want to introduce too many changes too quickly, as I do not wish to burden the developer with more noise they must work through when their end goal is to simply release their game.


I originally wanted to move our "NSFW" checkbox to the main project edit page, but I figured if I was making updates then I should see if there are some other simple changes I could make to plan for the future. Thanks for your feedback.


I do not wish to burden the developer with more noise

Considering the ramifications (vulnerable players getting PTSD because they played your horror game), I think this noise is necessary :-)

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Long time since I used the site but wanted to chime in anyways.

In general I'm a fan of simplified systems and not slang nomenclatures, so I what I would to is to tag all the games as "All Ages" by default, and add an opt-in "Adult" or "Mature" tag/system. If needed, add a "Teenage" tag too. This system should be pretty visible/a major requirement.
Reports should catch devs that forget, decide to not tag, or simply didn't update their games.

I strongly suggest not using any specific numbers (like "18+" or "18 an up") since, as mentioned, both laws and culture are different by country; so I think that a bit of ambiguity would really help. Similar case to "NSFW", some cultures might have no idea what's that, better to stick to some pre-2000 terminology :P

As an added suggestion, we could also have a filter for Mature games (both see it and don't see it). Maybe have an opt-in setting to enable seeing them? Maybe that will help with some countries' laws? Some kind of futureproofing?

For now I have no opinion on the checkboxes for content. I think it will be good to have but I'd consider it an extra, after the other systems have been deployed.


I think I'm considering this direction. It seems like age ranges aren't great, but having things like "Everyone", "Mature", and "Adult" will allow us to get the distinction we want without making assumptions about maturity and age.

I definitely want this new system to be front-and-center on the project edit pages, and not hidden away on a sub page. I think it's important that certain kinds of content is classified.

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GameJolt has a set of radio buttons where they ask the developers to self-rate their games and depending on the selected options, there's a corresponding "rating" image generated along with the contents of the game ala ESRB ratings. Might be worth a look.

Here's a screenshot:


Yeah, but GameJolt's system ( like their entire publishing workflow) is clunky and vague, with especially unclear requirements and way too many steps. We want something people can actually use easily. Maybe something like the tag system to select what the game contains, and players could exclude the kinds of content they don't want when browsing. In fact, a lot of people are asking for the ability to exclude ordinary tags as well, so that would make a lot of sense.

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I totally get what you mean, I'm more just pining for that auto generated rating image 😛 Something that will generate this kind of badge on the game page. (But obviously not the ESRB one, something that's custom design by itch)

Just fanning my vanity I guess 😅


I also think that system Gamejolt uses is pretty neat.


While I get the inclination to think of this in a dev perspective, I think it's ultimately the players who are more important to consider here as it is to their benefit. Yes, it would be good to have a system that is easy to fill out by devs and doesn't take half an hour per game, but if that leads to a subpar content rating system, it's not that useful to implement. 

My own inclination in this case is to have some broader subject matter tags that can be chosen, after which some refinement tags are suggested to help branch out to more specific subjects. It should also be possible to add multiple subset subjects. 

Some suggestions for categories and subsets: 

  • Violence: cartoon/fantasy violence, violence towards children, intimate partner violence, etc.
  • Sexual content: heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, intersex sex participant(s), transgender sex participant(s), group sex, masturbation, fetish, etc.
  • Alcohol/drug use: marijuana, alcohol, smoking, hard drugs, etc.
  • Coarse language: sexual innuendo, sexually explicit language, blasphemy, slurs, etc.
  • Mental health/abuse: child abuse, domestic abuse, depression, self harm, etc.
  • Common phobias: spiders, insects, needles, etc.

This would allow the developers to fill out the contents in broad strokes if they aren't interested in being super specific or want to avoid spoiling their games, but it also allows them to get more specific for players who asked about specific subject matter or if they want to be specific in the first place. The one flaw I can think of is that some subjects that fall under the broad categories might apply to multiple broad categories (rape would fall under violence, sexual content and abuse, for example), so it would be good to have some subjects automatically apply more broad categories when picked.

I personally think age limits are only useful in a legal sense, as different people mature at different rates. I'm not particularly interested in age ratings as a result. The problem I have with the categories of "mature" and "adult" is that the line between them is very blurry for me personally, especially for games. I would personally only mark with ages or age categories if a product is intended to only be consumed by legal adults (basically: porn).


Thanks for your feedback.

I think the difference between mature and adult is specifically to account for "adult content," and we're going to need that distinction.


Fair, though I would personally put that as "legal adults only" to make it clear it has potentially illegal content for minors.

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While I agree that it probably shouldn't be required by game developers to be so fine-detailed descriptive of specific subcategories of sex, it may still be useful to allow these tags to exist as community-submitted contributions to the game page that are viewable (and rateable) by other users.

You seem a bit overly-defensive for what was a discussion of content rating descriptions and terminology.  Immediately accusing others of being 'phobic' because they do not desire to be exposed to certain content in their entertainment is both narrow-minded and short-sighted of you.  Every person, regardless of who they are, can choose to exclude themselves from being exposed to certain content.

If I watch porn involving people of specific ethnicities (or excluding them) then that is displaying a preference that I am entitled to do so as a consumer of such content.  I never feel that game devs (or anyone) should arm-twist people into being exposed to content they do not desire to be exposed to.  Caveat venditor and all that.  Kindly keep the penises to yourself :P

In a recent AAA game (Assassin's Creed Odyssey), one of the (gay) male characters makes obvious unwanted sexual advances towards my main male character multiple times to the point where it might constitute sexual harassment.  That is NOT ok.  I don't give a damn if they are gay.  Unwanted is unwanted.

TLDR:  No means NO regardless of the genders involved.  Get over it.


No, a community submitted ranking or tag only ends up in a mess. It happen in Steam, Gamejolt and Metacredit. They all have reviews that do not reflect on the game but on what they believe.


Consider the other side of the coin: the devs are important to consider, too, because it is part of their workflow, and ultimately their responsibility to jump through these hoops. Yes, it would be good to have every game thoroughly documented, but that friction will make devs less likely to want to put effort into categorizing their game. It's better to implement a 'subpar' content rating system that is actually used than it is to implement a content rating system that is in theory ideal but in practice inconsistent and subpar in its own ways.

The players don't see the rating system directly, they see the result of collaboration between system & dev.


I'd actually like to see an end-user contributed tagging system similar to how Steam does it.  You have the basic tags added by devs and then additional tags added by the users (with inaccurate tags being reported if needed).


I'm glad you're finally doing this!

I think you missed a few content descriptors, like:

  • Alcohol/Tobacco reference/usage (kinda fits in with drug reference/usage)
  • Blood/gore (kinda separate from violence?)
  • Language/profanity
  • Horror themes (for scary games)

It might also be a good idea to have users come up with their own content descriptors and explain their content in depth. E.G: if the creator selects "Alcohol Usage," they could write "contains a scene with two adults responsibly consuming alcohol."

Also, alcohol should be separate from drugs, since those two have different connotations .

Those are my thoughts.  I'd like to know what you all think!


As some of the comments above have stated, I'm also a huge fan of forgoing age based categories and focusing more on specific content warnings. This will make it easier for people who are comfortable with one type of "explicit" content to filter results to show games that they're more likely to feel comfortable playing and enjoy.

Potentially losing a section of an age group that would enjoy your content just because it's labeled 16+ or 18+, or thinking that the content will be watered down just because it's 13+, hurts both players and developers. 

Admin (1 edit) (+3)

What about having "Everyone", "Mature Audiences" and "Adults Only" instead of specific ages?


As long as the specific warnings are at the forefront, I think that could be fine. When I'm trying to avoid certain content for my kids, or even for myself when I don't have the spoons to deal with a certain topic, knowing the content matters a lot more than the age rating imo

There's some PG-13 movies that I'm perfectly fine with my 5 year old watching alone and there's some PG and G rated films (Jaws, Poltergeist, Watership Down, etc.) that are just too much, so I'm sure it'll work the same with self rated E/MA/AO. For me, the warnings matter more than the rating itself.


i cant think of anything else than currently the adult content button is very hidden and considering how important it would be to not show adult content to people who dont want to see it, imo adding the options for the rating system on the main game edit page would be important.

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Instead of having a specific age, or age bracket, for games - maybe the game could have a rating score that indicates the general type of content expected.

Blips & Chitz: World of Adventures (7/100)
Murder & Mayhem (83/100)
Weed Smoking Simulator (42/100)
Wholesome Fun: Part 2 (0/100)

For example, you could be fairly granular with content questions and assign them a weight (value). This could be compiled with other values based on the type of content.

Cartoon Violence [None (0)] [Mild (1)] [Moderate (2)] [Intense (3)]
Fantasy Violence [None (0)] [Mild (1)] [Moderate (2)] [Intense (3)]
Alcohol [None (0)] [References (1)] [Usage (2)]
Drugs [None (0)] [References (1)] [Usage (2)]
Gambling [None (0)] [Simulated (3)] [Real (15)]

You could then compound the result to account for multiple items of the list, rather than let the developer directly set their own rating.

ex. Alcohol [References (1)] + Drugs [Usage (2)] would result in a rating score of 3. However, because both drugs and alcohol are involved, an additional 2 points are added; resulting in a final score of 5.

Not sure if this might be more complicated than what you are looking for in terms of implementation and usage.
Additionally, you could then display these warnings somewhere for the game

Pirate Simulator: Swashbucklin' Adventures

Content Warning Rating: 32/100
This game contains

- moderate depictions of fantasy violence.
- references to alcohol.
- mild swearing.
- moderate cartoon violence.


While the whole number ranking concept seems novel, I don’t think it really helps the player in deciding if they should play a game. If I told you that some game had a score of 39, could you make a judgment off of that alone? The content descriptors are a good idea though.


Yeah the number alone is too vague to be useful by itself.  Although it could be a good way to quick-search through stuff. ex - a search function that allows you to specify a rating range (adventure games with content rating 50 or lower) and then you could go through them in more detail to view the individual content warnings. 


Not many have talk about it but what if lootbox become forcibly into laws, right now ESRB will not accept lootbox as gambling thus leading government to force it into law. This is a problem with all content rankings not such ESRB, if these content rankings do not do their job it leads to complex rules and laws. This is why lootbox is a mess in gaming, while it is ok in the USA not so much in China or Japan that have rules and if your game falls into it you are in risk of not only losing customers but money too.

I do not think you should only use the ESRB, it is a flaw system from the very start since any kid can buy AO games online or M rated games on steam store.

If you really want to do this right you got to have the IARC which protects game developers. This system can give warnings like games having nazi symbols, violence, noise that may not be ok to someone who went to war, realistic like killing, etc. ESRB does not have those things because like i said it is a fail system.


I don’t think the ESRB is a failed system. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough at conveying what it needs to.  And if the content desctiptors aren’t enough, the ESRB provides a description for everything it rates.


except it doesn't for things like nazi symbols which under usa is ok for anyone since the usa does not care or Japan who used them for religion reasons. However in germany it is banned 100%, you can't even make it for art. This is what i'm talking about, different laws and different ranking will crash into each other leaving game developers with problems they never knew.

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The ESRB has always been a system exclusively designed to benefit the games industry rather than to give a single iota of a damn about the consumers.  As someone who used to work retail many years ago (and had friends/siblings who did the same), very few parents bother to even look at ratings or content descriptors at all.  They buy whatever their kid wants them to buy.

The Target mom who bought her 5 year old son Grand Theft Auto 3.  I will never forget that sale lol.


I’m not sure about it being exclusively beneficial to the industry (it costs developers to get their games rate), but I still see your point. Many parents don’t care about the ESRB ratings. But what are we supposed to do? Make the rating obnoxiously large on the box? Forbid the child from purchasing it? (Supreme Court ruled that you can’t).

Also, come to think of it, I’m not sure that the ESRB’s content ratings are the best. They give games with full frontal nudity a 17+ rating (not 18 plus, because that would be bad for marketing I guess), and lump them in the same category as “games with just a bit too much blood in them.”

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First Amendment says you cannot ban games for their content; only put prominent warnings/labels about content that is accurate/descriptive within reason.  I'd actually advocate for adding in QRcodes to the back that pull up the ESRB entry with more details about the game's content.

When I said 'exclusively benefits the games industry' I meant it benefits the major game publishers/developers as well as the ESA which lobbies heavily to maintain the 'licensed not sold' nomenclature that has become the standard for software both gaming and otherwise.

The ESRB's content ratings aren't the best but neither are any content ratings in any part of the world.  They're only a band-aid solution to the absolute glut of trash that floods the games market on a near-daily basis.

Gamers and consumers alike need quality control and curation from multiple sources simultaneously.  GoG can't do it alone.  We need featured games and recommendations based on our past actually-played-games history.  As gamers we should ask ourselves why we spent 500+ hours playing and complaining about terrible games when the good ones sit unwanted, unloved, and unplayed.

I feel the market is slowly starting to shift away from the trash and focusing more on rewarding the treasure.  It is very VERY slowly happening but I am starting to finally see this with major AAA companies and their 50% or lower stock prices from their historical peaks.  It is a downward spiral that never ends.  It just goes on and on my friends...

Community voting & tagging can supplement the self-disclosure provided by (responsible) game developers.  While itchio does a decent job of making sure actual literal asset-flips and trash don't get dumped onto this specific market, it is only a matter of time before the itchio staff get overwhelmed and cannot handle things on their own.  The community should help with this and be rewarded for doing so.  Itch points or whatever for helping to vote/rate/tag stuff accurately and bonus points when other (unique) users are upvoting their tags.  We'll ignore downvotes since those are often abused to censor things.

Automation/bribery of any kind results in an automatic permanent blanket ban from the itchio marketplace for that developer and all of their game titles/products.  That kind of threat would significantly incentivize game devs to strongly discourage their users from doing anything to set off the botting alarms. 

But in hindsight, all of this kinda just seems up in the air and at this rate things may not really make traction on this rating system issue until at least early February 2019.


If ANY game developer has lootboxes in their games, then they should leave game development and NEVER return.

ANY game developer that is ok with unregulated unrestricted gambling to minors deserves nothing less than to have all their gross income seized/frozen and to be punished to the full extent of the (local) laws.


ESRB is too complex. I feel that it should be simpler.

Everyone (All ages)

Teens (13+)

Adult (18+)

You’re right that someone will pick the young age option as a joke. I think if there is going to be a rating system then they should take it seriously when choosing “Everyone”. If not then strike for misuse? And, if they get 3 strikes then they get banned??? 

I think your content descriptions is good.


There is very well worked video about this topic:

At the end of the day I think that adult content should be disabled from the home public page by default and then on the settings an option to turn it on.


I have to say something should be done about this

I was browsing the front page of the html5 games and came across this game called can-i which after about 2 minutes of game play basically devolves to torturing a cat with a Knife.

I know I would NEVER want my children to come across this type of game when they are looking for HTML5 games to play on the internet. 

I think games with content like that should be hidden away behind some sort of paywall where you have to verify your age in some way to access.

I can't think of many people who want their kids coming across games they can play in any web browser about torturing cats with knives. (Now that I can state how that game ends, once I accidently cut the cats ear off moving my mouse around to try to find out what to do I stopped playing) 


Something that like should be flagged as adult using our existing options. I've found the page and updated the setting on it.


I'm sorry,  I didn't realize the game wasn't flagged NSFW. However, I'd like to mention that the game has a content warning right at the beginning that requires an action to start.


Sorry doesn't cut it.  You deserved that catty pun :P

But really though; to torture a cat with a knife and you didn't flag the content as adult or NSFW?  Shame on you!

This is why I feel we should have a community tagging system to make up for what game devs fail to do themselves.

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Mea culpa. In my defense, though, I never released a NSFW game before, and last time I checked, which is to be fair quite a while ago, there was no way to flag a game as NSFW besides the tagging system (remember that itch is a very young site and it is constantly changing). Also, the flag is not on the main page of the game page creation, it is hidden in the metadata menu and you have to know it is there and look for it (which I didn't know until it was mentioned to me). Which is why I put the CW in the beginning in the first place, since I don't want to expose people to content they don't want to see.

You say CW is not enough, but to me it's actually the best way to approach this, since if someone happens on my game by chance, surpassing the internal filtering system of the site (like from an external link), they will still know if they want to play it or not. I mean, you can't get much better than having the dev itself say "look, this game has this and this, if you don't like this then don't play it." But I can see why it isn't a good choice to enforce CW at the beginning of every game.

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Your humble response has moved me to forgive your transgressions.  I'm hoping itchio makes a more easily-accessible NSFW/adult tag available for game devs to self-flag their games to avoid situations like this in the future.  I know there's a (stickied) discussion thread on this and I'd encourage you to participate in that discussion if you haven't already done so.

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If you are an 18+ adult and need 'trigger warnings' by others to get through life, then perhaps you should get off the internet :P

It is not the responsibility of ANYONE else to account for infantilized inadequate pseudo-children masquerading as adults and demanding that others cater to them.  That's how CHILDREN make demands.  They are not adults and not suitable to be treated as adults so therefore they should be denied access to adult content without further question or consideration.  Take your trigger warnings and bugger the hell off the net already.

Literally the only people that I believe could possibly have a strong case for desiring 'trigger' warnings would be military veterans with PTSD.  That's about the only type of group I could sympathize with to some extent but I still wouldn't feel 'trigger' warnings are a good idea.  The individual needs treatment and society should not be required to bend over backwards for their individual situation.


German board games have a self-rated "suggested age" that is more about the cognitive difficulty and the themes, so a non-violent game about politics would be 12+, Chutes & Ladders is 4+ and Catan is 10+.  Probably not a lot of four-year-olds on itch though...

But in that context, "adult themes" would be more along the lines of "Kirby does his taxes".


Or "Yoshi cooks his ledger file", if you want to build on that.


everyone has a butt and the le leche league has made breasts a non-issue as it has been for most of history, so on visual it's just whether genitalia are shown or not.

on sex there would be E none- T spooning/natural mounting like in nature- or AO unnatural sex acts like missionary position

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Hello leafo.  I'm the derp that complained about the 'claim' option on free games, lol.  I appreciate your feedback/info on that last page and it allowed me to get in touch with many indie devs that weren't aware of how that claim system works.

I'm gonna do a few feedback bits here related to this rating system you posted about.

I would like to request clear & consistent 'content descriptors' and a simple '18+' descriptor in the title of any game that is marked as having mature sexual content and/or excessive violence.  All this would be down to the devs marking their games as such.

In addition, you could get the itch io community to also help by giving 'itch points' to those who help by rating/marking games with accurate community-contributed content descriptors.  Devs and the rest of the community would be able to look at them and upvote the good ones.  Then itch points could be used in raffles for games contributed by devs (and the winner could choose which game they wanted).

I'd love for the removal of downvoting comments/stuff on in order to deter trolls who merely disagree with the post rather than having a valid reason for doing so.

I'm strongly AGAINST censorship of any kind.  Allow the community to report the devs/games that break the itchio rules/ToS and to allow adults to purchase any (legal) lewd/violent content if they want to do so.  All I'd want is that each game has the 18+ thing in the title so I can see at a glance if this is one of THOSE games or if there is more than sex in the game.


no, voting system will always get abused. There is never a perfect way to make voting system, people will find a flaw and abuse it.


Those who abuse the system would have their itch accounts banned & an IP ban put in place to deter them from making new ones.  Itch already has a system for Two-Factor Authentication so make that a mandatory requirement when making a new account.  Even the most ardent trolls will find it cumbersome to go through the entire 'make a new account' process alongside creating new 2FA info & verifying it every single time.

If itch wants to go further to prevent abuse, they could require phone verification with a valid phone number via SMS.  That would significantly cut down on a lot of potential abuse.  However, that would also exclude a lot of people so I feel the 2FA requirement becoming mandatory would be a nice middle-ground, even for those without phones.


Doesn't work, Steam has an even more annoying system and trolls as well as scammers go to the process. Newgrounds is not even inmunite to this either, trolls will make somewhere to 10 accounts, rise them up weekly and they would have something to affect voting. Not even Voat was able to come up with a better voting system, the best they can do is delay the abuse and try to find them.

Voting is always a bad idea.


Content Descriptors and an 18+ age gate is all you'd really need.  Best way to go would be to make it 100% self-reported and have games that don't fill out their content report de-listed from search results by default.

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I would like the ability to 'hide' or 'block' a creator.  If they make a bunch of games that I don't like then I don't ever want to see them or any of their games in my feed.  I know we can 'follow' someone so surely we can do the opposite (block them) perhaps.

I'd love to see a way to limit the number of characters a developer can use for the game title.  Some devs deliberately make it so long that the end-user is unable to see the price of the game itself.  This is an abuse/exploit of the system and I hope this can be changed.

Alternatively, have the price/discount be displayed separately from the title at all times.


speaking of titles they may want to look into restricting the ability of a dev to change the title of a work. for example let's say the sell a game "X", then later they change the title to "X demo" or "X version 0.001". this happens a lot with adult games when the dev abandons the itch version in preference to selling on patron, or decides to milk the audience for more, granted milking could be somewhat defended if they had initially sold the game as "X demo" or "X version 0.001", but to sell it as "X" then downgrade it is a bit bait and switch. 


I'd love to see a mandatory archival system for 'older versions' where developers can NOT prevent customers who paid for a game from downloading an older version prior to an update.  That way if a future update 'nerfs' a game and/or removes features/content then customers have some recourse and aren't screwed out of money.


What about a system like AO3 (Archive Of Our Own), where the content alerts are tags, and "Creator Chooses Not to Use Content Warnings" is an option? That would be backwards-compatible, for the current database, where creators could then go in and update records. The feasibility of this does of course depend on how your database is set up.

AO3 also by default has a "Hey, might have adult content!" warning page that pops up before you can even access fanfic not specifically marked as okay, unless you have specifically set that it's okay.


Which reminds me that I recently joined Dreamwidth, which also has an interesting system. Namely, there are three levels:

  • no age restriction;
  • viewer discretion advised;
  • age 18+;

and then there's a freeform text field "reason for age restriction". So you get the benefits of predefined categories combined with descriptive content warnings. It does raise the obvious question of where to draw the lines, but it's an approach to consider.


I was hoping someone would have brought this up! Love AO3's system to bits.


Would love to hear some updated feedback from Leafo on this.  Is this going to be done?  Can we get a blog about this?


Hiya! I really love the content tags idea that lots of people have been bringing up (especially the added suggested tags for seizure and trigger warnings!). And I believe that tagging your content should be a mandatory step for devs when creating a game page, not an option in a sub-menu somewhere--that way there's less chance of mistakes being made. My favorite way to implement this which was mentioned a couple times were some simple buttons that the devs click on with the option to specify a little more about each one. 

I also think that the categorization of games into the broader three groups - Everyone, Mature Audiences, and Adults--is much, much better than specific age ranges. But I don't know if that should be determined by the devs or the site--maybe, depending on what developers select in their content tags, "recommends" a category, but creators can override it?

Lastly, my biggest concern as a creator is what to do if, for some horrible reason, a group uses the flagging system for miscategorizing to try and harrass a developer or try to get their game taken down. I'm not as worried on such a progressive and considerate place like, but I've seen it used before on creators on other platforms, so, y'know, it's on my mind!


The report system goes to the people for review it is not a robot job like steam or youtube does.


Anyone who needs 'trigger warnings' is not adult enough to be on the internet without the supervision of another non-triggered standard actual adult.

Life sucks, get a helmet.  :P


You've said that before. Can you please drop it? People have been complaining. Staff has decided to take no action, but that was the first time.

On a personal note, if you think adults can't be triggered, you must be very, very young and with an untroubled life. No offense.

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Mod is gonna mod me.  Better not.  I'll pastebin it from my Discord if anyone is interested.
Congrats mod, you have succeeded in censoring my free expression.  Have a cookie.


There are three problems with what you said:

  1. I already pointed out you're not in trouble. It was a polite request. You on the other hand are being rude and disrespectful.
  2. "Censorship" doesn't mean what you think it means. Itch is a private venture. If our admins did decide to take measures against you (which, again, they haven't), they'd be entirely within their right to do so.
  3. Yelling "censorship" the moment someone asks you nicely not to say certain things is a tactic most commonly associated with a kind of people you really, really don't want to be associated with.

Please reconsider.


I'd like to add that I think that the "Everyone, Mature, Adults Only" distinction is a good idea that I've seen work on other sites, and that I think the middle ground of "mature" would be particularly nice for my current projects. The current two settings—"acceptable to absolutely everyone" or "so adult this game is hidden from normal browsing"—are a bit extreme, and I think there are a lot of works that hit a middle ground.

As for other types of content warnings… a lot of ideas have been thrown around, but I think simply lifting the 10 tag limit would satisfy the vast majority of use cases with a feature the site already has. I imagine the current limitation was instated largely to prevent tag spamming, but I think people here have presented use cases for more detailed metadata that are compelling enough that they may outweigh the moderation headache.

In addition, I think the ad hoc nature of tags is better suited for a job like this than something more organized and curated. I imagine that the types of content warnings people could potentially use are varied enough that attempting to make a set list of them would be an exercise in futility, particularly with adult content. 

I do think there should be leeway for individual developer judgment with this, though. For example, while in terms of age ratings, Doki Doki Literature Club should likely be required to at least be marked "mature," I do not believe the developers of it should be subject to disciplinary action for saying "this game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed" instead of something more specific. I'm not sure if this is even remotely in the cards, but it does seem like whether something like this could happen is very dependent on the details of how content warnings are implemented and moderated.


You could have something slightly granular: what I'm immediatly picturing is something like scrollbars for each area of content. For example some words might have a great deal of sexual content, while other may only be mature in terms of violence. In this approach, the one who pick the content can figure out whether it works for them based on the severity of any given factor.

Sources of inspiration: Interestingly enough, privacyfeatures as a firefox addon. You can toggle different features on and off to suit your needs. This is something I'm envisioning for ratings systems.

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Age ratings are really complex, because it changes from country to country.

While partially nudity may give a "Teen" rating in some countries, in others it will give "Mature", etc.

I'm personally using the age ratings and content descriptions of my country, since I decided to focus only in the local market for the ease of administration purposes. Truth be said, how a single person can deal with global audience alone? Development, translation, localization, tech support, age ratings. Now multiply the amount of work by each language you decide to add support to (of course, if I had more persons working with me it could be done).

I think that if using something that already exists (like IARC) is a hassle, letting developers cope with age ratings at their own could be a better solution.

What could be a good solution would be to add a separate "age tags" section instead of a complete system with description and such. "Everyone", "Teen", "Mature", "Adult-Only" and "Non-Rated" for example. It still could lead to some headaches depending of the customer country though.

Admin moved this topic to Ideas & Feedback

Sounds great!


Particularly for the purposes of itchio's community as it exists, I think it would be useful to - in addition to "is this NSFW or not" and "what (of a limited list of content warnings) makes it NSFW?" ask "is this game intended as erotica."

Furthermore, add an icon marker to games flagged as NSFW even when a user has noted that they wish to see these games.

I want to see art games whether or not they include NSFW content, but by turning on "show NSFW" most of what's added is niche erotica targeted at someone who is not me. (I'm sure the intended consumers of those games are likewise irritated.) 

Being able to filter out topics that one desires not to be exposed to - for example, I really don't want to see naked ladies, but am fine with the reverse; lots of people feel the other way around - would also be nice, and that's a level of specificity past the list of specific content warnings already described. (It would have to be enforced laxly, because a major chunk of itch's creator and userbase is trans, so there are a lot of cases where nudity in a product can't be strictly classed as one thing or another.)


This is truly irritating because it adds noise to the listing of games


I’m making appropriate-kid games and books cause I find this very inappropriate for kids so please only allow 10+ year olds IF they ask their parents!


I'm currently looking for games to play with my 4 year old. She wants to play zoo games. She can't read and has a short attention span. Most of the time, she watches me and my husband moving the mouse. She likes watching us creating pizzas in Pizza Connection and decorating the restaurants.

I would very much appreciate a filter, that

a) filters the games she is not allowed to play because they contain violence etc.

b) helps me to find games that a 4 years old actually likes to play (herself topic and difficulty level)

c) helps me to find games that a 4 years old likes to watch me playing (topic)


I want to second the idea of having granular scales for each category of material.

It would be nice to have a distinction between games like Doom Eternal and walking simulators like Firewatch (both are M-rated). And has been stated before, rating systems are inconsistent across different countries, and people have different preferences on what type of content they are okay with.

I would like to see a system that has 4 levels (e.g. none, suggested, mild, explicit) for the following categories: violence, nudity, sexual content, language, drug use, and maybe a category for psychological distress (i.e. horror). That would cover the whole gamut of content. It would make the rating system more culturally agnostic. It would be easy to filter in search results. It would also future-proof the rating system because you can programmatically assign E, T, M, and AO ratings. From a UX perspective, it would also force content creators to think about the content so that works are not inappropriately assigned, which happens all the time on sites where the NSFW flag is opt-in.

I understand the merits of a simple rating system; it's fast. But the gap between "viewer discretion advised" and "Adult Only" is too large. A user setting their rating restrictions is something that people generally only have to do once, or very infrequently (i.e. searching for a friend or family member), so I wouldn't worry about it being too difficult. Just include it as part of the user onboarding process: 4 clicks, and done.


What if when visiting a page with a specific age rating one of the following would happen:

  • If the game's age rating is at or below the person's age (if they should be able to view it) they will gain access to the page just fine.
  • If the game's age rating is above the person's age, but the page is not rated as 18+ (the person is too young and the game does NOT have adult content) then the user will receive a message that the content isn't suited for them, however they are ALLOWED (not shown right away, they must click a button) to view the page
  • If the game's age rating is 18+ AND the user is 18
    • If the user has adult content toggled on in their settings, they can view the content
    • If the user does not have adult content toggles on in their settings, they will receive a message that says the page contains adult content, and will be directed to their Settings and Preferences page.
  • If the game's age rating is 18+ but the user is below 18
    • The user will not be able to view the page, and an error message saying their access to the page is denied.

For publishers and developers, they will be required to complete a short multiple choice quiz that will determine age results based on the following:

  • Drug usage
    • None (0)
    • Mild (2)
    • Moderate (4)
    • Intense (5)
  • Explicit Sexual content
    • None (0)
    • Moderate (15)
  • Graphical Violence
    • None (0)
    • Mild (2)
    • Moderate (3)
    • Intense (4)
  • Fantasy/Cartoon Violence 
    • None (0)
    • Mild (1)
    • Moderate (2)
  • Explicit language
    • None (0)
    • Mild (2)
    • Moderate (3)

0-1 = Everyone

2-7 = Ages 13 and up

8-14 = Ages 16 and up

15+ = Ages 18 and up

For simplicity, however, all values and scores would be hidden.

I think that a similar system to the one on gamejolt would be cool

This is an old thread, so this idea may have been already supposed:

Instead of having individual tags for content like "Drug usage", have different categories of content rated by the developer out of 5*, similar to how the site Common Sense Media does it.

Each axis of rating should also have a word-limited textbox to clarify what content is in the game, again much like CSM. Coinciding with this is a list of tags oriented towards potential specific triggers, (e.g: self-harm, eating disorders, flashing lights, sexual harassment).

This should also integrate into a Content Warning Page, appearing when you click on a game for the first time before showing the game page. It would show the content ratings and associated clarifications, as well as the list of trigger tags, then requiring a confirmation to proceed to the game page.

*: possibly with an aggregate community rating shown side-by-side
†: who I have significant hang-ups with, but nonetheless
‡: a plausibly important coinciding change is to allow the report system to file for misrepresentative tags and ratings

It can also have IARC

So, was this implemented or not?


I think a content rating system for would be great, although if there is a new system for, it should somewhat follow the industry standards as seen in IARC in order to make the transition for developers as smooth as possible since a lot of them might sell their games on other storefronts or platforms such as Steam or the Nintendo eShop. Preferably, I'd like to see with the option to use IARC (ESRB/PEGI)/CERO ratings in addition to an built a system that works in a similar but simpler way. For that simplified system, using some ideas I've seen in this thread and from other rating systems that are in IARC, this is my idea for how an rating system could work out.



  • Everyone
    • Intended for players ages 3-11
    • Similar to ESRB's Everyone, PEGI's 7, CERO's A (All Ages)
    • Mario Kart
  • Teenage 
    • Intended for players ages 12-14
    • Similar to ESRB's Teen, PEGI's 12, CERO's C (Ages 15 and up)
    • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mature 
    • Intended for players ages 16-17
    • Similar to PEGI's 16, CERO's D (Ages 17 and up)
    • Monster Hunter
  • Adult/NSFW
    • Intended for players ages 18 and up
    • Similar to ESRB's Adults Only, PEGI's 18, CERO's Z (Ages 18 and up only)

I think 4 categories works out since each is distinct and easy to follow. Everyone represents games that are suitable for all ages and at most may have content that isn't suitable for extremely young children. Teenage (I think it should have a different name, maybe Moderate, but I can't come up with one) represents games that are suggestive or mild in terms of their content. Mature represents games that are realistic in their content but are otherwise moderate in their content. Adult/NSFW represents games that are clearly graphic or explicit in their content and should not be viewable by players that aren't 18 or older. 

Content Descriptors

Content Descriptors 

These broadly denote the type of content featured in a game and would be prominently featured on a games store page.

  • Violence
    • Fighting or harmful action
  • Graphic Content
    • Blood, gore, etc
  • Sexual Content
    • Nudity, sexual activity, innuendos, etc
  • Language
    • Swearing, expletives, etc
  • Drugs, Alchohol, and Smoking
    • Depictions or use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products
  • Distress
    • Frightful elements, horror, self-harm, etc
  • Gambling 
    • Gambling, depictions of gambling, lootboxes, etc

Content Descriptor Tags

These are tags that go into specifics as to what type of content the game features within the descriptors themselves, and would be searchable just like the other metadata tags that are used for games currently.

  • Violence
    • Fighting 
    • Dismemberment 
    • Exaggerated fictional violence 
    • Murder
    • Corpses
  • Graphic Content
    • Blood
    • Gore
  • Sexual Content
    • Suggestive clothing
    • Innuendos
    • Partial nudity
    • Nudity
    • Depictions of sexual activity
  • Language
    • Mild language
    • Abusive language
    • Blasphemy
  • Drugs, Alchohol, and Smoking
    • Drug use and reference
    • Drug reference 
    • Alchohol use and reference
    • Alchohol reference
    • Smoking use and reference
    • Smoking reference
  • Distress
    • Occult characters (ghosts, zombies, etc)
    • Unsettling atmosphere/character design
    • Horrific sounds
    • Horrific graphical elements
    • Frightening surprise (jumpscares)
    • Self-harm
    • Depression 
  • Gambling
    • Gambling reference
    • Lootboxes
    • Organized crime

The content descriptor and the content descriptor Tgas would be used together to denote what a games overall rating is. For example, a game like Super Mario Odyssey, at least going off of its current ratings around the world, would have the Violence descriptor with an exaggerated fictional violence tag (enemies poof out of existence when attacked) and a Distress descriptor with occult characters tag (zombie costume, realistic dinosaurs, etc) within this system. These are then used to decide the ratings through a questionnare. So, if we use Odyssey as our example, it would only have a Violence and Distress descriptor with only one tag each, which would give it an Everyone rating. 


This brings the best of both worlds in my opinion, as it simplifies the rating system to four ratings and 7 content descriptors that are easy to understand and are universal, and several amounts of tags, which allows for granularity in the content players would like to browse. When combined together, the system could make it easy to know exactly what type of content is in a game. Originally, I had the idea of a level for content ranging from Minimal to Mild to Moderate to Severe for each content descriptor, but after pondering it, that doesn't solve the issue of it being universal, as different cultures have different tolerances for that type of content. Having general and universally understood content descriptors and then more specific tags for specific types of content allow players to easily see the general rating for a game, and to view the descriptor tags for a specific look as to what content is featured, and has the benefit of being searchable within, being easier to set up in a rating submission form, and is easier to add and edit in the future as it doesn't require developers to consider what severity level their game is and instead be specific as to what the game actually features.

I would really like to see a rating system added to, and I hope this feedback helps in some way!

I like the idea of doing this but I would expect making things complicated would likely cause problems so from my perspective the following fairly simple solution might work:

Everyone - suitable for all ages.

Shows up in search results.

No content warning regardless of logged on or visiting without logging in.

Example: some sort of flower garden simulator (grow flowers and arrange them in a garden).

Mature - more intense content.

Shows up in search results. 

No content warning if logged in.

Content warning if visiting without logging in.

Example: Some sort of ninja assassin game (sneak around and kill people but not with excessive brutality).

Adult - pretty much anything goes.

The default age rating.

Will not show up in search results unless logged in and a toggle in the profile setting its ticked.

Has a warning if attempting to access it without logging in (like it is already with most of these games).

Has a warning if attempting to access it while logged in and the profile toggle is disabled.

Example: A blatantly obvious porn game (no explanation needed I think).

Where tags are concerned I'm included to leave it to the developer to decide with users that are logged in able to suggest tags however the developer decides if the tag is appropriate or not - specific types of content could be noted here like drug use - to make it easier perhaps a tag cloud of some sort could be made to make tagging accurately easier.

Deleted 209 days ago

With respect, this is not only a bad idea, but antithetical to's purpose.
There are plenty of porn games on this platform I find distasteful, some of them I even think are wrong to make. But Itch facilitates these games because beyond a basic code of ethics, it is meant to be an open marketplace where anyone can distribute their game. Democratizing games is the goal.

It's reasonable to me that you should have the right to filter out content you don't want to see. It is not, however, reasonable to eradicate content you don't want to see. Banning porn games on Itch would remove vast swathes of queer art, and historically, porn bans have been used to do just that.

Advocate for better content filtering, not abolishing content you don't like. 


I feel like a reporting system should be added, if someone doesn’t mark their game containing NSFW as NSFW, the user in can report him and the admin can force their game to be marked as NSFW after the report is successful.


You can already use the existing report system for that.

Ah already have it? I didn’t pay much attention, after all I rarely play games on itch, and I’m mostly in Developing Games. 😂


Yes, there's a little link at the bottom of every project page. It's not very visible.


This is a great discussion that needs to happen. Thank you to the Admin and Moderators for leading this effort to improve and make it a safe space. I'd like to suggest that perhaps there is a deeper underlying issue underneath. Before coming up with a content/age rating system maybe it would be good to clarify what content is allowed (even within the adult section). I elaborated on this topic on a recent post that suggested a change in the Terms of Service. I encourage you to check it out and take action. Thanks!


Personally I'm more interested in highly specific trigger warnings than in vague age ratings.  For example, a player with extreme arachnophobia might have trouble with games that contain spiders, but be totally fine with sexual content.

Trigger warnings feel genuinely helpful to me.  Age ratings feel condescending.

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I also stand against the implementation of a generic age rating system, and would be more happy with some kind of selective "in a category I may dislike" type of warnings system.

And of course there is a huge need for adding some way for users to personally blacklist or ignore games based on tags. At least I can say with confidence, that the "Adult" and "NSFW" section of the site is unpleasant to browse through without any options on content filtering.

My main point is that, people can be adults, with very different tastes in whatever. So a generic "you are 18+ so you are okay with anything" type of system wouldn't work well, and wouldn't improve itch website's current state in any way.

If itch decides to move to a generic, age-based rating system, then at least there should be a separate "For Adults Only" category besides the simple "18+" category, as it's possible to find things on itch with rather odd, uncommon, or extreme content, which surely doesn't pop-up in "simple" "18+" computer games. And here comes in the problem about defining what is allowed in the terms of service and the sensitive matter of artistic freedom and censorship, which I think that anyway can not be enforced without a sophisticated manually supervised curation system, which would at least be able to correctly recognize and tag all games on itch.

By the way, why is it not allowed for users to add tags to games? It would make it a lot more easier to search through the whole selection of games on itch, and more probable to find what people are looking for instead of totally random stuff, even without implementing a tag blacklist system.