Fascinating article at Ars about Disney’s young-teens-targeted Pirates of the Caribbean online game. I share the reviewer’s skeptical eyebrow at the idea that swords are somehow more wholesome than guns, but the justification is interesting – that basically nobody is going to come to the game without being aware of the film, and the film is absolutely in the swashbuckling tradition. The violence, then, is in some form of historical, almost cartoon, context.
Building websites for children isn’t easy, and we’re grappling with some of this stuff with SciCast (lots of new films up yesterday, by the way). In principle, I hold that all content on a child-focussed site should be moderated. Our editorial procedures for articles and the like are good enough, though there are changes I’d like to make; all comments are moderated, and currently that’s rather clunky. But it does, I think, have to be done.
Which presents a problem, in that while I’d love to use the site to foster a community of science film-makers in schools, the overheads of administering that isn’t something with which we could currently cope. We even think we’ve spotted a clever simplification that would reduces the moderation load dramatically, but… implementing that would be tricky, because it’s absolutely not the way ‘community’ sites tend to work.
Of course, this is one of the hidden costs of web media. It may be cheaper to originate content than, say, broadcast, but the ongoing support costs are much higher.