Two weeks after dropping its first thorough guide to the self-certification system, YouTube has released a second, gaming-specific manual for creators.
Video game content has always had a complicated relationship with ad-friendliness, and when YouTube introduced self-certification in 2019, creators immediately raised questions. With most other genres of content, YouTube’s rules were pretty clear: if a creator’s video included graphic violence or nudity, they should mark it not safe for ads.
Gaming content, though, was a different beast. Did cartoony Fortnite count as “graphic violence”? What about grungier games like Call of Duty? Would creators be demonetized if they didn’t blur gore in their gameplay? Was in-game nudity the same as actual nudity?
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki cleared up the confusion about violence at the company’s first Gaming Creator Summit, but creators have had to make do without guidance on other issues–until this update.
“What we’ve done is taken the top advertiser-friendly content guidelines that gaming content typically runs into and we’ve outlined each one of the self-certification sections within the context of gaming,” Conor, a member of YouTube’s monetization team, says in the latest Creator Insider video.
The gaming guide covers five areas: inappropriate language, adult content, violence, “controversial issues,” and sensitive events. Like the general self-certification guide, this one gives distinct samples for each area that illustrate what kind of content is ad-safe, ad-limited, or not safe for ads.
In the violence section, for example, YouTube explicitly says graphic violence “such as gory attacks with visible impact, severe injuries with blood” that occur “throughout normal course of gameplay” is ad-safe. Things only get dicey if a creator chooses to edit their video in a way that spotlights violence or gore, and venture into ad-unsafe territory if a video’s focal point is “extreme” kills or domestic violence.
(And if creators are wondering what constitutes a “focal point,” the guide includes a section that explains how YouTube defines “focal” versus “fleeting.”)
Not all in-game content is treated as leniently as violence. The guide’s section on nudity reveals that YouTube considers all content involving “sex-related entertainment” like strip clubs to be completely ad-unsafe, even if the location is “a part of the plot” or characters just make a “quick stop” there.
“What we hope to do in providing these tailor-made examples for the gaming community is really provide the maximum amount of transparency that we can possibly give you around how to rate your content with self-certification,” Conor says. The guidelines are “also to really give you a sense of how the ad-friendly guidelines apply to your community’s content,” he adds.
You can see the complete gaming guide here.