How 'LEGO Universe' Avoids The User-Generated Genitals Problem

Lego Universe

As you can probably surmise from the title, "LEGO Universe" is a LEGO-based online game. You've got all the LEGO staples, from the knob-headed, yellow-skinned people to the enemies who explode into bricks. You've also got something that hasn't really appeared in many "LEGO" games: Complete control over what you're building. Players are given personal spaces to create whatever they wish, from pre-fab scenery like castle towers and rocket ships to 100% user-made designs made up of smaller, more traditional LEGO blocks. Are you starting to see the problem we're facing? Yes, people are going to make giant penises.

"LEGO Universe" is a family game, and giant penises shouldn't just be floating about in a game where kids can stumble upon them and be scarred for life. So how does the developer, NetDevil, prevent this from happening? It's all about the approval process.

Anything you create in "LEGO Universe" has to be approved, unless you're using pre-fab objects that have already been pre-approved by the developers. Even your name has to be approved, unless you end up picking from one of the many pre-created names.

Clearly this is going to result in a massive backlog of objects waiting to be checked. So how do you speed that process up? Limit the scope of what players can see. For example, you can set it so that your friends can see your creations without having to wait for them to go through the approval process.

Lego Universe

Which brings up another issue. Clearly your "friends" list could be made up of anyone, and your kids could very easily stumble into a friend's created space because they simply clicked the wrong box. Here's where NetDevil drops in another level of security.

The friends list in "LEGO Universe" acts similarly to Wii Friend Codes. In order for players to become friends, they have to communicate outside of the game world, share eachother's "LEGO Universe" IDs and then send invites to one another. You're not even notified if you receive an invite, which means the only way you'd be able to accept it is if you communicated with your real-life friend outside of the game and worked everything out.

This, of course, invites forums for sending and receiving friend invites from strangers, but at least it's an extra layer for those kids who won't bother to go the extra mile.

Of course, all of this is backed up by privacy settings which can be as stringent as you want them to be. If you wanted to limit what's seen to just stuff made by the developers, you have that option.

In the end, there's a heck of a lot in place to prevent children from seeing stuff they shouldn't in "LEGO Universe." Is it perfect? Probably not. Kids these days are particuarly savvy about getting around security measures. But that's where parents have to come in and make sure their kids aren't off wandering in a blocky field of genitalia.