Lego is pretty massive right now, what with the likes of Lego Jurassic World and the upcoming MMO Lego Minifigures Online. But this won’t be the first time Lego has attempted an MMO. Lego Universe was a short-lived MMO that shut down in 2012. One massive problem it endured during its short life was the cost of moderating penises.
Talking on Twitter, senior graphics coder on Lego Universe Megan Fox explained how heavy the costs were of checking every player’s constructions to make sure they weren’t building cocks.
Funny story - we were asked to make dong detection software for LEGO Universe too. We found it to be utterly impossible at any scale.— Megan Fox (@glassbottommeg) May 29, 2015
“We were asked to make dong detection software for LEGO Universe. We found it to be utterly impossible at any scale,” she said.
“Players would hide the dongs where the filtering couldn't see, or make them only visible from one angle / make multi-part penis sculptures.”
“The moderation costs of LEGO Universe were a big issue in general. They wanted a creative building MMO with a promise of zero penises seen.”
“They actually had a huge moderation team that got a bunch of screenshots of every model, every property. Entirely whitelist-based building.”
“YOU could build whatever you wanted, but strangers could never see your builds until we'd had the team do a penis sweep on it.”
“It was all automated, but the human moderators were IIRC the single biggest cost center for LEGO Universe's operational costs. Or close to.”
“And "that" is why Trove/etc were able to make better building MMOs. They didn't have to worry about little kids seeing dongs. We REALLY did.”
“Anyways, "all of that" is why every single successor to LEGO Universe has been small and missing build play. LEGO knows how expensive it is.”
Having phalus’ in a Lego game is obviously a massive problem. Not only are Lego games aimed at children, but the whole Lego brand is at stake, and anything that could sully the family-friendly image would be taken very seriously. The company even implemented a zero tolerance penis policy after a child gameplay tester found a penis one of the developers had secretly built in Lego Universe.