Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

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Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby Dugi » March 31st, 2017, 11:43 am

I have never seen any official statement about the language that is appropriate for the game's targeted audience, 13+. The level of violence is quite well established, it goes beyond cartoon violence and contains loads of slaughter and murder, but does not reach graphic violence and it's nigh impossible to violate it (the guy who created Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 clearly found a way to circumvent it). But when it comes to swearing and sexual topics, it's not clear. So I want to ask what is appropriate without placing the silly 18+ warning (that would attract more kids to it).

In films, the general rule is that the work gets 15+ if there is more than a couple of particularly nasty swear words. If they use it once or twice, it gives the swearword a much more emotional meaning (and might teach the kids that these words are reserved only for exquisite situations).

Other video games have different approaches to this here is a bit of what I remember of games (with so much violence that there's no way they could be rated as 13+ even if they spoke of Teletubbies) I played recently:
  • Path of Exile - no swearing, but there are some sexual jokes told by characters
  • Skyrim - some milder swearing present, worst word used there is the word for female dog (not used to describe an actual female dog)
  • Witcher - the amount of swearing was sometimes making me sick, the game is full of obscenity of any kind, but the protagonists is the worse profanities rather sparsely
  • Doom - no swearing, no insulting, but there was a weapon named BFG-9000, where BFG means officially Big [redacted] Gun, making it really obvious what that F stands for
  • Brütal Legend - lots of swearing, but it can be turned off (gore could also be turned off)
  • Far Cry - lots of swearing

The forums' word filter gives some advice, although it is somewhat too aggressive (dialogues may come to male hens, female dogs or illegitimate sons). Thus, I think that it's better not to have a character call someone bas... ehm, illegitimate son of a noble, unless he is an actual illegitimate son of a noble. Or not?

I suppose that characters can insult each other freely as long as it is only an insult. One character calling another a jackass, cow pie or son of a three-legged dog is okay, right?

A bigger question is about words that are not considered rude, but can be inappropriate anyway, such as whore, screw, plough, pimp, sex, whoreson, queer, etc. Can they be used as long as it is not in the context they relate to, such as using the word whore only to insult a character (not speaking of actual prostitution)? Some stories demand speaking of love and child-making, but to which level can it be described? (supposing it is plot-relevant, of course, creating a Fifty Shades of Captain Greyn campaign would be lunatic)

Another thing I wonder about is about using strong language to add emotion to some sentence, like replacing Who are you? with Who the hell are you? or something like that (again, supposing that words that are always obscene are not used). Is that acceptable or not?

Any ideas?
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby skeptical_troll » March 31st, 2017, 12:25 pm

I'll just leave here my humble opinion:
looking at mainline content, it seems clear that the policy is no swearing/sex allusions at all, but I don't see why this has to be the case for UMC. If swearing and sex-related dialog are functional to your story/stylistic intents, then I'd just avoid hypocritical locutions which may sound quite clumsy. The only obvious limit to me is direct insults to real people.

However, I would still put a warning at the beginning, like 'this campaign (or whatever) occasionally contains blablabla', for the sake of transparency. That's not to keep kids away, it won't, as you said, but just to give information to people who, for legitimate cultural/personal reasons, are not comfortable with that kind of language/topic and so can freely decide to stop.
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby UnwiseOwl » March 31st, 2017, 12:33 pm

Tricky questions. My opinions here, your mileage may vary.

For videogames, the UK uses PEGI:
PEGI 12
Videogames that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy character and/or non graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals, as well as videogames that show nudity of a slightly more graphic nature would fall in this age category. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.

PEGI 16
This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. More extreme bad language, the concept of the use of tobacco and drugs and the depiction of criminal activities can be content of games that are rated 16.

And the US uses ESRB:
TEEN
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.

MATURE
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Our guidelines state that we want to be PG, so hitting around about the PEG12/TEEN level should be about right. Anything that starts hitting the PEG16/MATURE ratings should probably be looked at very carefully. Realistically, when it comes to actual ratings for market, the regulations are intentional vague to allow regulatory bodies pretty much make it up based on what 'feels right'.

Essentially, I think if strong language is 'infrequent' (hard to judge, but let's say a few usages of strong language in a campaign), and steering clear of descriptions of sexual encounters, then you're almost certainly fine. Defining what strong language means is no easy task, as you and I (Australians are infamous for our liberal use of ...cough...certain expletives) will never agree, but I figure erring on the side of caution is a good idea, and steering clear of words banned on the forums is probably a good idea too.
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby Dugi » March 31st, 2017, 1:27 pm

Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.
This tells nothing about using words like whore. It is offensive, can be used to insult people, but it's not filtered here nor anywhere else. It fits into some places because it is an insult with a specific meaning, but is offensive enough to be usable without necessarily implying the said amoral behaviour (unlike hooker). Wiktionary says that it's an obsolete and mildly vulgar for a prostitute, an insult for promiscuous people, unscupulous people or an insult for someone contemptible. Since it was also used in very serious ancient literature, like Bible, I assume that it is okay. It might also fall into the other definition's infrequent use of strong language.

The problem I have is that I grew up in a country where everything in TV was dubbed and all swearing is removed even in films that had tons of violence and is very clearly awkward for children. Its language never goes out of that PG-13 you've quoted.
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby zookeeper » March 31st, 2017, 2:16 pm

Dugi wrote:A bigger question is about words that are not considered rude, but can be inappropriate anyway, such as whore, screw, plough, pimp, sex, whoreson, queer, etc. Can they be used as long as it is not in the context they relate to, such as using the word whore only to insult a character (not speaking of actual prostitution)?

I can't see why it would matter whether for example "whore" is used to refer to an actual prostitute or as an insult. It's still clearly degoratory vulgarity and, for lack of a better description, "adult content" (just like physical euphemisms for sex).

If you're not sure whether something is acceptable as an insult or otherwise, then... it probably isn't. There's no definitive list.

Dugi wrote:Some stories demand speaking of love and child-making, but to which level can it be described?

To a non-explicit and/or euphemistic level.

No, I don't want to try and come up with corny examples. :whistle:

Dugi wrote:Another thing I wonder about is about using strong language to add emotion to some sentence, like replacing Who are you? with Who the hell are you? or something like that (again, supposing that words that are always obscene are not used). Is that acceptable or not?

There are certainly many uses of "hell" and "bast_ard" in mainline, so sure.

Dugi wrote:The problem I have is that I grew up in a country where everything in TV was dubbed and all swearing is removed even in films that had tons of violence and is very clearly awkward for children. Its language never goes out of that PG-13 you've quoted.

Sounds like perfect personal experience of what kind of language works in Wesnoth. Except you can use "hell" and "bast_ard" or similar words that at worst count as mild profanity.
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby UnwiseOwl » March 31st, 2017, 2:42 pm

No, I don't want to try and come up with corny examples. :whistle:

Well, you see, when a Saurian Skirmisher and a Saurian Augur love each other very much...
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby Dugi » April 1st, 2017, 8:33 am

zookeeper wrote:To a non-explicit and/or euphemistic level.
I assume that as long as there is no description of the thing that goes on (which is very unlikely to be plot relevant anyway), so saying something like he went a bit out of self-control that night and sired a bast_ard child could be fine.

zookeeper wrote:There are certainly many uses of "hell" and "bast_ard" in mainline, so sure.
It still feels weird that "bast_ard" captured by the word filter but "whore" is not, but it seems to be a general consensus. On the other hand, mama, what does it mean 'whore'? is not a question I want to make someone ask. I will not use that word.

zookeeper wrote:
Dugi wrote:The problem I have is that I grew up in a country where everything in TV was dubbed and all swearing is removed even in films that had tons of violence and is very clearly awkward for children. Its language never goes out of that PG-13 you've quoted.

Sounds like perfect personal experience of what kind of language works in Wesnoth. Except you can use "hell" and "bast_ard" or similar words that at worst count as mild profanity.
The problem is that many English profanities do not translate unambiguously to our words and furthermore many clear translations have very different levels of obscenity (for example the female dog word is less obscene and whore is much more obscene).

UnwiseOwl wrote:Well, you see, when a Saurian Skirmisher and a Saurian Augur love each other very much...
Hahaha :lol:
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Re: Swearing in campaign dialogues - where is the limit?

Postby Zap-Zarap » April 1st, 2017, 10:19 am

UnwiseOwl wrote:Well, you see, when a Saurian Skirmisher and a Saurian Augur love each other very much...

Will there be sprites of a baby version of all units? Analougely to the zombie/walking corpse ones?
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