Members of the existing XNA Creator's Club get access to this new system for delivering their games, correct?
CS: Yeah. You'll also get something new, but this already exists. What you'll also get to do is take part in that review process that I'll talk about in a moment, and be part of the community review.
[Let's say] you've got [a game] running on Xbox 360, and it's nice and easy for you, since Windows and Xbox do that. It's easy to move it across. That's great. What you would do is go to our website where you would do your submission, get yourself a creator identity to join the club, and basically, if you have a game package, you upload it.
You enter some text about the game that describes it, put in some screenshots and a movie if you want, and then what you do is you go through that description process.
There's descriptors for violence, sex, and things like that. We're not saying you can't do those things, we're saying just to be honest about what's in your game. As you move along, we have something that tells you that you have "Cruelty Level 2" out of zero, one, two, and three. It's got a description of what that means. You have a level set. Once you've described your game, you submit it.
What happens is that the rest of the community gets a chance to review it. They're checking for two things. This is the peers in the community. What they're checking is one, you're following the basic ground rules. The basic ground rules are don't infringe on other peoples' IP -- you've just been creating, and you don't want your idea ripped off, so don't rip off other peoples'.
The second is
there's some content that we think is so objectionable that... it's
not about being creative, we just don't want it on our system. As long
as you're not doing those things, you get to stage two, and stage two
is really just the community saying, "Hey, your gameplay didn't
crash, and the descriptions you said were a fair representation."
Once enough people agree on that, you're clear to distributing.
We haven't looked at the business model side, because the big thing that the community's asked us for is, "We want the audience. We want to be able to get out and be able to distribute this game to these millions of people."
Once we come out of beta,
and we've got that coming up in the spring, we can start making sure
about the business model and all that stuff. But we haven't focused
on that yet. What we've focused on is, "Let's take a pioneering
step of opening that community up to the creative community."
Do you have confidence in the peer review community?
CS: What we've seen already with the 10,000 people already in the creator's club right now... and you see the work they do. The work's really good, and even better, they really care about that community. I think that's the thing.
I think in general,
communities... if you put together a strong core, they self-police really
well, and you get rules of conduct and people who care about it. So
I feel really good that we're going to get good reviews and great content.
I have a question. I was looking
at the early shots of the interface
for the peer reviews site, and it had a list line-by-line of objectionable
content that you're not going to allow on the thing.
CS: The objectionable content, or the sliders?
This was the objectionable content. The top one was "no child pornography." Easily comprehensible. I'm certainly not going to argue with that one, but the question is... we were looking at it, and we were like, "I wonder if Super Columbine Massacre RPG could be submitted as an XNA game?" Would you accept something like that, that teeters on that edge?
CS: I don't know enough about that game to be able to comment on it. There are always going to be things that are on the edge. Part of the peer review is that they're going to look at it and say what they think, and I think there's some boundary that the community will build for itself about what they think would fall into that category of not allowed.
Some of it's very obvious. Okay, we get that. But there's going to be a few games on there that the community will work out which side that falls on.
Who's going to be the arbiter? Do
you think the community really will? What if some things are ambiguous,
or there's compelling arguments one way or the other? Is there going
to have to be an arbiter, you think? Something like
Super Columbine, I think there's compelling arguments on both
sides of why or why not that game...
or something with a serious political message that critiques something.
It could have violence in it, but
that violence might be integral to the message of the game. For example,
there's a game called Hush,
you play as an African mother hiding from soldiers who are going to
massacre you. You rock your baby to sleep because if you don't keep
your baby asleep, he'll start crying, and then... Some could argue it
technically falls under the "crimes against humanity" provision
in the XNA censorship guideline. What do you think about those issues?
CS: I think it's hard to comment on
a per-case basis. I can talk more on what I generally feel about them.
CS: What I think generally is that I am hoping that we do see games that push our medium and make a statement. I think that's something we can really get here, is pushing the boundaries of what our medium means, and have more social commentary about all sorts of issues.
I mean, I'd like to see more comedy
and everything else, and I think there's just going to be a lot of good
gameplay, but I think it would be good to see some serious topics tackled.
I think there's going to be some things that... it's going to take a
while for the community to work out which way they fall.
I will say that also once something is through the peer review, you still have all the normal processes. You can go complain about a piece of content and say, "I looked at this and I think it's objectionable." We have all the normal recourse that you would on Xbox, but we're hoping that doesn't get used a whole bunch.
We have a team that can go in and proactively look at
things once it's published and if there were complaints about it. But
my hope is that the community finds a balance and a responsibility,
and they take that responsibility for themselves.