Gamers' Bill of Rights

Every so often, I forget that many PC games are bug-riddled sacks of garbage. When this happens, I go out and buy a couple, until I remember why I was driven to transfer most of my gaming to dedicated consoles. This is sad, since PC games do have a rich and storied history, and address a market that is not adequately served by consoles (that market being “people willing to spend way too much money on games.“)

Many of you style yourselves “game developers” and write computer programs that you call “games.” From this point forward, all games that you develop must conform to the following requirements. Those who produce games that do not meet these criteria will be punished. 1. Every modern operating system is capable of running more than one program at a time. Every modern windowing system provides a command key sequence to switch which program is in the foreground (e.g. Alt-Tab in Windows). Every game should honour that key sequence and be well-behaved in its presence. Violation of this rule shall result in this key sequence being permanently disabled on the developer’s personal machine.

2. If your game changes the resolution of my monitor when I start the game, it should restore the original resolution when I exit the game, or when I alt- tab to another application while playing.

3. The use of scantily clad women in advertising, splash screens, or actual games, while unfortunate and somewhat immature, is still permitted. The use of women wearing “armor” that leaves them nearly naked, however, is now forbidden. Developers and artists must choose between lingerie and plate mail. You may not have both. Developers incapable of understanding the difference between armor and lingerie will have a steel plate welded to their groin.

4. If your game enforces minimum hardware requirements, those requirements should be enforced at the very beginning of the installation phase (at which time the installation should give the user the opportunity to abort the install), not at runtime. Violation of this clause shall result in lashing; one lash for every 100 megabytes of data your game installs.

5. All cut scenes and movies should be interruptible with the “esc” key. No exceptions. Ever. Peter Molyneux (Black and White), this means you. Violation of this clause shall result in the developer being tied to a chair and forced to watch the movie “Bad Lieutenant” from start to finish.

6. All games should provide some facility to pause the game at any point. Multiplayer games are exempted from this rule. Violation of this clause shall result in the confiscation of the developer’s Tivo.

7. Wherever possible, games should accommodate the colorblind and the hearing impaired. Where not possible, note this on the box, in the installation notes, or on your web site. Open question: what other common disabilities can be reasonably accommodated by most games? (For example, clearly text adventures can be designed to work well with reading software for the visually impaired). Violation of this clause shall require the developer to feel ashamed of him or herself.

8. No game should require the game disk to be in the drive in order to play, unless the user chooses to not do a full install. No other exceptions. Violation of this clause shall require the developer who wrote the CD-checking code to personally field every telephone support call from purchasers of their game who have lost or damaged their game disk, in perpetuity. “My publisher made me do it” is not an adequate excuse for violating this clause.

9. If the platform you are using supports a standard method of uninstalling programs, your game should use that method. Violation of this clause shall result in RealPlayer being installed on the developer’s machine.

10. Your game should synchronize to real time or a target frame rate, not number of CPU ticks. I know it sounds unbelievable, but this still happens. CPU speed, unlike the intelligence of game developers, doubles approximately every 18 months. If five years from now I try to run a game on my 250 GHz six- CPU gaming monstrosity and it is unplayable because the enemies are running around at 25 times their intended speed, the developer shall be placed in the stockade in the village square and forced to wear a dunce cap, while the Chipmunks Christmas song plays in the background, slowed down to normal speed.

By following these simple guidelines and respecting the PC Gamer’s Bill of Rights, you can help make the word a better place.

Thank you all in advance for your cooperation. If you feel I’ve left any rights out, please feel free to contribute them in the comments section, below.

Additional Notes