Sunday, May 25, 2008

Design Challenge: MMORPG for Children

An adult, 18 years or older, must be the one to set up the account. This registrant would be in charge of all account administration, including assigning "levels of trust" to other players. This would probably be most easily accomplished by setting up a control panel within an internet homepage for the game.

The "levels of trust" would break down as follows:
Level 1 is a stranger, the child and the other player would have no way whatsoever to communicate.

Level 2 are players the child is in a group with. Their communication is extremely limited; the child will have access to an easy to navigate, very limited menu of pre-determined
sentences, expressions, and emoticons. Any communication within the group will be displayed to all group members. Groups must be set up by an adult, and a child cannot join the group unless the player who started it is at least a Level 3. Blocking will not carry over; the adult should be warned if the group contains blocked players.

Level 3 is a friend the adult added. The child can choose to communicate directly to them by clicking on them, but only through menus. The menus will include a larger variety of more detailed sentences and emoticons for the child to choose from than the group menus.

Level 4 is a completely trusted friend. The child can initiate individual messaging (IM will have an extremely powerful language filter) with this player.

All these levels can be granted and removed at will by the adult controlling the account. The adult can also choose to block certain characters and/or all Level 1 players. A blocked character will not even be visible to the child, and the child will not be visible to the other player. Being in a group together instantly raises up a Level 1 player to Level 2. If there is an issue with other group members an adult can choose to petition the group leader to remove a player, petition the admins to ban the player, and/or simply remove the child from the group. Children should be free to join and leave approved groups at will at any point in the game.

All conversations between the child and other players (including groups) will be logged and sent to the adult's account. The adult does not explicitly have to approve all conversations, but if they find something offensive, there should be a "report" link included, where an adult can contact an admin and outline their complaint. Any reported players will be blocked for the child, and their comments will be reviewed by admins to see if a banning is warrented.

As a step to prevent adults from simply starting an account for their child and neglecting to monitor their actions, the account will be declared inactive and suspended if the adult does not log into their account's website at least once a week and/or if their unread communication logs reach over a certain point (say 100).


Amber said...

Where is the part where we befriend the children, and sell them into slavery?

HappyCodeMonkey said...

Fantastic idea, I'll consider adding that to the design at a later time.