Going for the Throat

An Examination of the
Pending "M" Rating in Age of Conan

By Nicole "Awen"

March 13, 2007

It’s no surprise that Funcom is placing an M rating
on their
newest MMO Age of Conan.  The license lends itself to quite a
bit of violence as well as other mature content.  The struggle
for Funcom right now is keeping away from the new AO (Adult Only)
rating.  Because they are trying to release the game
worldwide, they have to deal with the strictures of the different

For instance, in Germany, they dislike the visceral violence
that the
game demonstrates.  The North American and French markets seem
to be ok with the random beheading and blood spatter. However,
don’t let the French hear you swear.   This
comes as a surprise, since I don’t know a Frenchman who
can’t swear better than a sailor.   The
North American market is no surprise.  The challenge faced on
our side of the pond deals with the sexual situations within the
game.  While these situations are not overt and certainly stay
within the M rating standards, the moralistic attitudes up at the
capital certainly hinder the company’s vision.

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These sailors will probably curse

An M rating at this point wouldn’t hurt the
worldwide market
that Funcom is catering to.  However, an AO rating may kill
it.   So let’s talk about the current MMO
market.  The average age lies between 20 and 45 years
old.  This is absolutely the right age to sell an M rated
game.  However, there is always the liability of the
unsupervised 13 year old kid who gets a hold of his parent’s
credit card and goes to town.   With this knowledge
in hand, the ESRB uses extra precautions to ensure that children
aren’t exposed to that type of violence and
sexuality.  Therefore, Funcom has to limit itself into the
lines that the Board creates.  

At the upper level, it doesn’t seem to make much of
difference.  But, with that said, the deeper you delve into
the problem, the more you realize that suddenly the game
isn’t what Funcom wanted to create.  It’s
not the game that the fans of the Conan franchise want to
see.  They’ll stay within the strictures, but in the
end should we worry about the loss of the essence of the games?

Now, from what I’ve seen, Age of Conan actually
doesn’t display more violence or bad language than say God of
War or even Gods and Heroes.  The major concern is going to be
the occasional prostitute or the scantily clad villagers. 
Again, this isn’t any worse than God of War which also had an
M rating.   Some could argue that the decapitation is
a bit much but this is old hat. It’s already been done (and
done well might I say) by Fable and Prince of Persia 2.

In essence, companies who make run of the mill MMOGs should
not have to
worry about reaching the AO barrier.  That rating should be
reserved for games that are; well, adult in nature. 
I’ll lump myself into the typical North American stereotype
and say -- games that are of a sexual nature.  Eros Island
absolutely needs to be rated Adult Only.   Age of
Conan does not.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016