Understanding Profanity Filters. Or: Why I can't name my class ***ault!
All console manufactures have requirements (known as Technical Requirements, Requirements Checklists, check lot, and other names) in order to publish your game on their system.
All console manufactures (PS3, 360, Wii) also have some form of profanity filter and they require us to use it.
The requirements can be slightly different between the big 3 console makers (what we call 1st parties); so is the technology they use for profanity filtering.
The games rating has nothing to do with requirements the 1st party places on games. It doesn't matter if your game is rated "M" for Mature or rated "E" for Everyone. All of us have the same requirements.
All that said, in general, any and all user-entered text must go through the 1st party profanity filter. This includes Custom Class names and Clan Tags.
¨When you try and name your class "Assault" it's considered user entered text.
We must send it to the 1st party using the API (application programming interface) they provided us. The requirement might be as simple as "all user entered text" and rarely as specific as "all user entered text seen by users other than yourself."
You enter "Assault."
We send it to the 1st party.
The 1st party then tells us "Yes" or "No." It's very binary. It's not "No... unless..." Or "Yes... but only if..."
Presumably, the ass in Assault is what flags this as being inappropriate. The 1st parties don't give us a reason why the text is considered profane.
Some users have even reported that they can't enter a clan tag at all, even one that is not offensive or profane. This always bothered me. With the help of some co-workers from production and engineering, I looked into it today and it motivated me to write this blog post.
When you add a clan tag, we then have to send both clan tag and gamertag/username to the 1st party to be checked. This is so you clever folks don't form a new profane word using a combination of clan tag and gamertag/username and work around the 1st party requirements.
For example: [As]sartist.
The gamertag/username sartist may not be offensive, and neither is the clan tag [As]but the combination of clan tag and gamertag/username would be considered profane by the 1st party. Simply checking the clan tag would not necessarily meet the requirements.
In some cases, you can't enter a clan tag at all. Take, for example, a hypothetical gamertag of Masst0r who wants to be [DJ]Masst0r.
Nothing offensive here, right? Well. Yes and no.
Over time, all the 1st parties have changed and updated the profanity filters. Masst0r made his gamertag/username either (1) before it would have be trapped by the 1st parties' own profanity filter and is grandfathered in or (2) gamertags/usernames don't use the same exact system that developers are required to use.
Unfortunately for Masst0r, the ass in [DJ]Masst0r is now considered offensive when it wasn't before. No pun intended.
I've tried to name my class "Assault" before. I had the same reaction you did. What. The. ****.
Oh, sorry! Good thing the profanity filter caught that.
David "Vahn" Vonderhaar