As per Community Rule 5, all visual content within any submitted beatmap must be considered as appropriate for an all-ages game. This includes things like beatmap background, skinning elements, storyboarded assets and more.
In the interests of keeping things as clean as possible, Community Rule 5 is interpreted as explicitly challenging "questionable" as well as definitively NSFW/18+ content.
We ask that you take these considerations into mind when determining whether something is appropriate for osu! or not, and also understand that we are an all-ages game with a multicultural userbase that has widely varied expectations for the media we consume.
At a baseline level, osu! attempts to adhere to the PEGI 12 classification with some further additions as explained below. Where the two classifications clash, osu!'s "house rules" described in this article always take precedence.
All pieces of visual content should be judged "in a vacuum", as in, they should be judged based on what is immediately presented in the image visually, as if one had no knowledge of their source material or of any other beatmap background.
Earlier backgrounds being allowed does not set precedent or mean that such depictions will be allowed in the future, especially in the circumstance of older maps where post-hoc editing of their visual assets is not currently possible due to technical reasons.
Visual content (aka: beatmap backgrounds, skins, objects and other included graphical or video-related assets distributed with a beatmapset) MUST NOT contain any of the following:
This includes violence towards humans, humanoid characters or animals of any kind.
Any imagery that portrays gore, mutilation, maiming, severe wounding or graphical depictions of recent death with an obvious cause present (such as hanging, choking or bleeding out) is not acceptable or to be tolerated.
This refers to the mimicry of sexual acts or soliciting in a lascivious or lewd manner. Content of this nature in the anime context is often referred to as "ecchi".
Any imagery that imitates sexual acts or involves objects or mannerisms that mimic or reference any genitalia (such as phallic objects) is not allowed.
Any imagery that is highly suggestive or directly implies imminent sexual intent or anticipation is not allowed. This includes "beckoning" or "come hither" type imagery which is inviting or otherwise highly suggestive of imminent sexual contact.
This also applies to "accidental" posturing, such as imagery depicting characters being caught unaware during bathing, or other such situations.
If a character's age is not immediately obvious in their depiction by virtue of their physical presentation (for example, secondary sexual characteristics not being present heavily infers an underage character), any content that could conceivably and reasonably be perceived as sexual is completely disallowed.
This includes questionable depictions of characters drawn in the "loli" style, regardless of their established narrative age.
Depiction of minors in a sexual context within any medium is considered highly illegal in most places in the world, and as such, it is explicitly forbidden.
Any portrayals of immediate or active sexual intercourse, foreplay and full frontal nudity with genitals clearly visible is completely disallowed without exception.
This also extends to clothing that is clearly and indisputably revealing to the point of erotic negligence, or clothing that is designed and intended for use within sexual settings, such as fetish gear and full depictions of lingerie.
Additionally, this extends to entire pieces of artwork wherein the airs can be - in good faith - reasonably appraised as predominantly provocative or suggestive in a sexual manner.
This includes portrayals of use or the presence of drug-oriented paraphernalia such as bongs, coke spoons, used needles or any other widely established tools used in the context of administering illicit drugs.
Drugs with any sort of inconsistent scheduling worldwide (such as marijuana) are also considered as "illicit" for the sake of this rule. Imagery pertinent these drugs and their associated usage communities is also not allowed.
In the event of a specific sort of drug abuse terminology or iconography is referenced without that drug being explicitly illegal or scheduled in most countries (such as syrup/lean/promethazine abuse), it is also considered "illicit" for the sake of this rule.
Depictions of alcohol and tobacco use are allowed sparingly where such things are not portrayed in unreasonable or destructive excess.
Put simply, most/all references to drug use are generally not okay and should be avoided.
This includes depictions of desecration involving cultural and religious icons that are intended to deliberately inflame, such as the offensive use of Nazi or fascist symbolism (swastikas), anti-Semitic terminology and symbols, or any other icons, motifs or statements that actively encourage the harm and discrimination of another social, racial, cultural or political group.
Ideal content for use in osu! is benign and able to be consumed by an all-ages audience. When in doubt, consult the local classification for such material (if available) - if it is considered as suitable for an audience of the age of 12+ (PEGI 12 or a "PG" rating in the US and Commonwealth countries), it should largely be acceptable.
Visual content may contain some of the following aspects in limited quantities, subject to common sense and good faith:
Depictions of reasonable swimsuits is allowed so long as said depiction is not highly excessive or in violation of the posturing and innuendo rules listed in the above section.
Highly excessive is a broad term, but is generally taken to mean when an image treads well into the line of questionable content, such as when a character may be wearing a swimsuit far too small to adequately cover their physical assets, or if said physical assets command a dominating amount of the scene.
Swimsuits that are too small or geared to be overtly revealing are generally not allowed if they are in good faith, considered questionable by a reasonable quantity of users.
Scenes involving active combat, fighting or any other physical activity that may involve the presence of minor wounds or injuries is considered acceptable so long as there is not an excessive presence of gore, bloodshed, or distressing physical impairment.
Any depiction of classical artwork or the rendition of the human form where the portrayal of partial nudity is done in a strictly artistic and non-sexual context may be allowed upon review from the GMT.
However, said artistic nudity must possess some contextual relevance to the other content it is associated with in order for this exception to apply.
An example of proper application of this rule would be for content using the Immersion band cover from Pendulum, which features a naked man and woman pressing their hands together in a sidelong shot in the center of the piece. The icon is relatively small, understated, but discernible, and is considered allowed due to its non-sexual nature and contextual relevance to tracks from that album as a whole.
Depiction of romantic acts or common intimacy between characters in an established narrative context is acceptable so long as it does not tread upon the rules listed above.
This also includes "flirty" depictions which are - in good faith - considered as playful, not unreasonably excessive, and not in violation of any of the other inappropriate content markers.
The anecdotal "rule of thumb" is that one should generally be comfortable with their family members or other judgemental authority figure viewing the content and be capable of adequately explaining what is going on in it.
This is by no means a strict requirement, but it is a good way to help inform your decisions on what is and isn't appropriate.
In situations whether the appropriateness of a given piece of visual content is unclear, the mapper must submit a formal request to any Beatmap Nominator for further appraisal, who will then refer the issue to the Global Moderation Team to decide based on a supermajority (>70%) consensus.
Once a consensus is met and issued, the resulting ruling on its appropriateness is final and can not be challenged under any circumstances, unless edits are made to try and fix the contentious issues cited by the ruling. Any number of these subsequent requests may be made within reason, so long as a good faith effort is being made to try and fix the issues listed.
Should the alteration exceed the limits of common reason or is deemed to be performed in bad faith (such as excessive or poorly-done censoring), the content may be denied from further appraisal requests and thus deemed unusable for use in a beatmap. This is non-contestable and irreversible.
Images which are egregiously inappropriate may not be escalated in this manner at the discretion of the game's administration (aka: the osu!team). Should the administration declare a piece of content as inappropriate, the decision is final and cannot be contested or argued any further - attempts to do so will be met with disciplinary action for all parties involved.