Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Be part of the solution

Where I use dramatic historical quotations and a scary image of the Blizzard punishment pyramid to plead my case to you. Contains some NSFW language. (img:battle.net)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.           -Edmund Burke

I'm not a fan of Blizzard's player-reporting system, especially as it sits in its current form. I think it's impersonal, generic, and doesn't provide the feedback a player needs in order to feel they've made a difference. I do understand why the system has evolved over the game's life. Years ago when a player witnessed some sort of reportable offense, they'd submit a ticket to customer service---essentially, a written report of what had taken place. For reasons I think are obvious (time/budget/resources), this really wasn't a practical way to combat negative player behavior. There's simply too much data for a human being to sift through in order to make a judgement one way or another.

The current system offers "right-click-and-report" functionality, allowing the user to choose from four general "offenses:" spamming, name, language and cheating. In most of those cases, players aren't given the option to provide any additional information---the right-click temporarily ignores the reported player, some sort of log is sent to Blizzard and...that's it. It's over with. Done. And you will likely be frustrated when you see that same player using the same language the next day. Of course, the four options don't go very far when it comes to the variety of negative behavior a player can encounter in-game.

If you've run only a handful of LFRs you've surely encountered player behavior that because of the limitations of Blizzard's reporting system couldn't even be reported. Couple the inability to report toxic players in some situations with the absolute absence of feedback when you actually use the in-game functios and it can leave a player feeling like their efforts are an absolute waste of time. They're an ant facing a juggernaut. And it can foster feelings of resentment towards the parent company. I've read some fucked up stuff in Trade---but perhaps this morning's description of performing a sex act on a cow takes the cake.

Why must this be something we as players have to deal with on a daily basis? Newsflash: there is no free speech in Azeroth. Blizzard have their own terms, even if the enforcement rests in a grey area. 

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. -Albert Einstein

But see, the thing is, acting positively towards your fellow player is actually in your best interest! That's not to say good behavior should be rewarded---I think that's contrary to what I'm saying here. Good behavior should be the norm...can be the norm, but it's we, the players, who need to re-introduce consequence into the game. Blizzard just can't keep up with the sheer volume of idiots who pay for their products. That's the sad reality. One can argue for better and for worse that Blizzard have introduced system changes (Looking-For-Dungeon, Looking-For-Raid, etc.) that make the experience more akin to a single-player game where you sometimes run into other players, rather than a true MMO experience. 

Formerly frequent group quests have been toned down or outright removed from the game. LFD allows you to quickly and easily group with people you'll probably never see again. Heck, once you hit max level, you'll have an option to raid---complete without the need to be in a guild, without the need to communicate with your fellow players, without the need to care for or be responsible to anyone but yourself. Whether a player isolates themselves from the community by choice or by their behavior, the incurred consequences nowadays are pretty much non-existent: in Vanilla, Burning Crusade and most of Wrath, you could only do so much, get so far, by your lonesome. 

Personally, I'm in one of those situations where I'm getting sick and tired of being sick and tired. I loathe heading into major cities with the choice of either putting up with verbal excrement in Trade and spending more time than I should reporting players, or muting Trade chat, in essence cutting myself off from the most high-traffic communication channel in-game. I've either got to endure it, or isolate myself because of other players' toxic behavior.

This is so not what I wanted my World of Warcraft experience to become. But I'm not going to let other players push me out of the game. I'm not going to compile a list of suggestions for Blizzard to consider in order to make the game environment more pleasant, either. There are simple things that WE, the players, can do. Because ultimately, it's up to us to change this climate, this culture. To take it back from the idiots. 

I'm done keeping my mouth shut. I'm going to report everything. And more, I'm going to remind everyone within earshot (eyeshot?) they should be reporting, too. I'm calling on all players who truly grasp the idea of a positive, non-toxic gaming environment to take a stand where the standard BS is no longer tolerated. Don't get me wrong---if two people would like to chat about performing a sex act on a cow while in-game, that's their choice. However, they don't get to have that conversation publicly.

WE need to put a stop to this. I could be wrong, but until it's proven that way I refuse to believe that it's the majority of us who are OK with players throwing around words like nigger and faggot, describing sexual encounters in graphic detail, and threatening rape without a second thought. I believe it's the majority of us who are silent, and that is what needs to change.

So I'm gonna be that guy, and I hope you'll join me and be that guy/gal, too. The person who gets told to "STFU faggot" after using Trade to remind players they should report all inappropriate behavior and chat...every time.

Will you be part of the solution?
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.                  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Darned technology - username should be DeletrixV. :)

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  2. While I don't disagree with you, I don't 100% agree with you either. Some people are overly sensitive or defensive and such people are almost as much of the problem. I do agree that trolls can take things a bit too far - and in extreme cases (3 sigmas of deviation from the mean) do need a "time out" and a reminder that such extremes will not be ignored, yet as you point out, they are. I agree this is unfortunate.

    This is not an easy topic to delve into. Most of the time, trade humor is too much for churchy people - typically over-sensitive people that the trolls prey upon.

    I've found that trade chat is regularly entertaining with extreme cases occurring less frequently. The beastiality example you reference, put into context, I hope, is simply someone looking to be a shock jock (per se). Discussing a topic of subject matter XYZ in order to observe reactions from people and not necessarily themselves believing that such practices (sex with animals) is okay or desired. However, I wasn't there, so I wouldn't really know.

    I hope your experiences are more pleasant in the future, try to take the odd conversations for what they are - their entertainment value - if you're able to do that. Your blog entry above is exactly what some of the trolls are trying to achieve - a reaction, especially a negative one. I read the above entry and think, they won - they got you rialed (sp?) up. On the bright side, if you "win" it will defiitely prevent their more extreme antics in the future.

    Food for thought.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Anonymous-

      Thanks for your comments. I didn't write this from the perspective that I'm correct, or that everyone's supposed to agree with me. But I do feel you missed the greater point of my piece. I don't think I'm necessarily referring to the types of language and behavior that you feel upsets the "churchy" people---I'm talking about the personal attacks, the "shock jock" type of scenarios you refer to (for the record, I'm agnostic).

      Perhaps I can agree with you to some extent that it's for "entertainment value," but whose entertainment is it that we're talking about? Once you've answered that question, is a public channel really the appropriate place for it? I've argued that no, it isn't--thus this piece I've written. I realize that "the trolls will always be there," but that assumption/resignation doesn't concern me at all as it relates to this here topic.

      I don't agree with you at all that this post is exactly what the trolls are looking for. This isn't a negative reaction---it's a call to action for those who DO agree with me: that certain types of language and behavior has no place and should be called out. If posts like these are really what trolls are after, I've got plenty more where this came from.

      Thanks for reading.

      -Ross

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