Megan Fox (not the actress) recently published a series of very funny (albeit NSFW) tweets about her experience at Lego Universe, a now-defunct Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game for kids. (NSFW means “not safe for work.”) Lego Universe was a Minecraft-esque kids’ MMO that came out in 2011 and closed a year later. Not because it was a bad game, but because the costs of keeping an MMO kid-friendly was just too much, even for Lego.
Moderation is a tricky deal in the best of cases—it’s very subjective and subject to human error, or it’s based on computer algorithms that can’t possibly pick up on everything. (Profanity will always find a way.) In Lego Universe’s case, moderation was done by real people who had to pick through every single asset that players created to make sure it was age-appropriate. The costs of paying this large team were too high.
Fox said that the main problem wasn’t just that it was a kid’s game, but that it was a Lego kid’s game. Lego is trusted by parents. The company needed to be associated with nothing less than absolute purity. It was a zero-tolerance policy, one that most parents are probably totally okay with.
But this leaves us with a dearth of kids’ MMOs (or even family-friendly MMOs). So if you’ve ever wondered why, here’s part of the answer—moderating online games is tough. It takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. A lot.
Megan Fox also founded Glass Bottom Games, whose most recent work is Hot Tin Roof, a game about a detective and a cat who solve crimes together. Pixelkin had the chance to play Hot Tin Roof at PAX last year, and we enjoyed it quite a bit! Fox requested that we use the above image in any article written about her Lego Universe tweets. We couldn’t pass it up, of course.