What is this?
In the past few months, there have been a relatively high number of projects that have taken some flak for being explicitly “darker”, or “more mature” than other projects, while raising questions about whether the content is appropriate. As always, our goal is to build an inclusive and supportive community. Mature themes, when executed thoughtfully and appropriately, can be strong storytelling and world-building devices. However, this can be a challenging endeavor to undertake and there can be a thin line between “mature” and “offensive” content.
Amidst various ad-hoc staff responses, overly-zealous feedback, and philosophical discussions, it can be a bit difficult to find the thread of what is or isn’t okay to put on FEU. Hopefully, this text should give a better idea of what our standards are, and what we intend to do in the future when faced with inappropriate content.
What is our policy?
Fan work sites generally require creators to provide content ratings and/or content warnings for their work at the time of upload. The amount of specificity varies from site to site, but usually involves a broad age-group rating (such as the ESRB’s E(6+), E10+, T(13+), M(17+) rating groups) as well as warnings for subtypes of mature content, e.g. sexual references, violence, drug use, sexual violence. This way, audiences can avoid content that may be offensive or harmful. (For those outside North America, these ratings are generally equivalent to PEGI, CERO, ClassInd, and similar video game rating systems.)
The GBA Fire Emblem games are rated E for Everyone; from FE9 onwards the series moved toward a T rating. We generally expect fan project content to be at about the same level of appropriateness as the source games if we’re given no prior information about the project’s content. If a fan project includes content that would exceed an ESRB T rating, we expect the project to be marked as such, with a brief summary of potentially mature or sensitive content in the opening post. This will allow the hack’s potential audience to make an informed decision about what they’re OK with seeing, and avoid both harm to the audience and backlash to the creator by making expectations clear from the start.
We won’t be going back and requiring projects to be rated retroactively; existing projects will be assumed to be similar to the source games (namely, about a T). However, if concerns about prior content are raised, we reserve the right to apply a rating that overrides the creator’s.
Note also that the general site rules forbid the linking of “suggestive content, pornography, hentai, or other inappropriate materials”. This policy does not supercede those rules, and as such, projects rated AO/MA/NC-17 are also disallowed.
Finally, there are, and will be, projects that we cannot allow to be hosted on FEU. This can be for many reasons, but it will will usually be due to particular scenes or messages (intentional or not) that we cannot allow to be associated with Fire Emblem Universe. In these cases, the staff will remove the download link and ask you to remove or rewrite the offending material. This is not a ban on you or your project, only a temporary removal until you can make the changes we’ve asked for. We hope that we will only need to do this sparingly.
What topics are explicitly banned?
- Do not depict sex with children on screen (consensual or otherwise). Alluding to it may be justified in context, but we will be the final judges on how close is too close, and may ask you to remove or rewrite it.
- Do not engage in hate speech towards marginalized groups through your project’s dialogue. Although themes of oppression can be executed thoughtfully, scenes that excessively use racial, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic slurs in a way that targets real-life groups will result in staff asking you to remove or rewrite it.
What topics should I be more careful with?
Works found to be featuring the following will definitely undergo a staff review:
- Nonconsensual sex/rape
- Excessive gore or brutality (especially to children)
- Explicit, real-life racial slurs
- Explicit, real-life sexist/homophobic/transphobic slurs
Other things that might catch our attention include, but aren’t limited to:
- Overtly sexualized designs
- Explicit references to or depictions of sexual activity
- Excessive use of racist stereotypes, especially when similar to those in the real world
- Gratuitous homophobia or otherwise derisive treatment of a character based on gender expression or sexuality.
- Negative or libelous depictions of real-world people
- Excessive reference to real-world politics
Isn’t this basically a quality barrier for hacks featuring “mature” topics?
Yes, I suppose it is. For a long time, I (Cam) was hesitant to implement this kind of rule for exactly that reason. However, I think we’ve reached a point where we can no longer avoid it. Discussions about the above topics in the real world require a certain level of self-awareness, so it’s only reasonable to expect projects featuring those topics to treat them with a similar gravitas.
Why make people rate themselves if the staff can just override it?
Practically speaking, there is no way that we can vet every single project that is posted to FEU; there is just not enough time in the day. We also don’t want to unduly raise the bar for posting a project by forcing everyone to undergo a manual review before they can share their work.
The staff’s rating is wrong! I want to appeal!
You can always reach out to us privately. Do note, however, that we make these kinds of content checks as a group, so the staff member who posts in your thread may not be the one who made the call. Instead, you can send a message to the staff as a whole as follows:
- From anywhere on the forum, hit the
ckey to open the composer.
- In the top left of the composer, hit the
+button next to
Create a new topic, and select
- In the
add a userfield, add the
Why can’t we just ignore projects that cross the line?
This is often given as an argument against taking any action whatsoever against projects that are “too edgy”. While you, as a member of FEU (the community), have the option to ignore projects with questionable content (and you are strongly encouraged to do so if you find yourself unable to phrase your feedback constructively), Fire Emblem Universe (the website) is personally and financially tied to its owners and operators in enough ways that we are not comfortable simply turning a blind eye.
I saw a project that contains a sensitive or mature topic that wasn’t properly warned for. What do I do?
It is OK to suggest in the topic that the creator warn for a particular maturity level or type of content. Avoid posting a Twitter-style callout in the creator’s thread, as this often leads to dogpiling and threads getting locked. If you’re in doubt about what’s allowed, contact the staff using the method described above under “I want to appeal!” and provide any screenshots or descriptive complaints in your message to the staff.
- A good example of a thread post: “Just a heads up, this project involves more gore than I expected to find in a FE fan project. Please consider putting a content rating in the OP about it.”
- A bad example of a thread post: [screenshot of offensive content] “Excuse me what the hell is this”