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Empowered Fire: Dealing With Offensive Names

What’s in a name? An awful lot according to Metaneira over at Empowered Fire, who’s been inspired to trawl through the WoW armory by some time on her hands and one too many offensive names in game. Her aim? To investigate just how many toons out there are in breach of Blizzard’s naming policy and, more importantly, social acceptance. And she’s found a lot of awful names.

Her findings aren’t exhaustive – going through all character names would need a lot of CDs to rip in the background -  but in turning over some armory stones, Metaneira’s found a lot of disagreeable names. And she’s come up with some ideas on what to do about it.

My next course of action is to — *gulp* — post a suggestion on the Warcraft forums, addressing what can be done to improve this problem. I can overlook the dwarf warriors named Gimmlii, the blood elf females named Brittneyspeers, or even random players with dumb names like Vhell. But there is something distinctly unsettling about playing a fantasy game with a character called “Rapemachine”. And it seems like it’s a relatively easy problem to, if not fix, certainly reduce. A couple of ideas …

We’ve all seen characters with nitwibbling names, and we all react to different triggers. You’ve cringed at a name at some point, right? Maybe blocked or reported it, too. Metaneira’s right: rude names are an unplesant facet of the game and one to be dealt with, not just brushed off as a side-effect of playing a game or soemthing that only makes sensitive folk squirm.

What do you think – deal with the names, or just let it be? What crosses your “no, that’s just wrong, /report” line?

Quote taken directly from Metaneira‘s post

Empowered Fire’s homepage is here

arrow11 Responses

  1. Bristal
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    Please deal with it. My least favorite (likely because I see it so much) is “MF” in front of everything: mfrogue, mfpally, etc…

  2. 36 mos, 3 wks ago

    I’d report folks depending on my mood.  But apparently Blizzard has a name filter for the Chinese version of Lich King. If that was enabled in other countries, we wouldn’t have to deal with it.

  3. 36 mos, 3 wks ago

    As a new developer on the indie MMO market, I can say that creating a strong name or chat filter is one of the easiest tasks when developing a game. It’s odd to me that major MMORPG’s  still have offensive terms slipping through the cracks.

  4. Babb
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    In real life dealings, I hold to the position that I have no right to force others to conform to my desires, as such I carry the same philosophy with me into the game world. /ignore solves so many ills

  5. 36 mos, 3 wks ago

    What usually draws my attention to the name is the comment made in Trade.  And if the comment is equally offensive, then it gets a report.
    However, to date, there’s only been one name that I’ve seen that made me want to report, but I was in the middle of an /exit, and apathy got the better of me.

  6. 36 mos, 3 wks ago

    Thanks for the follow-up article.  (Though I’m  Metaneira, not Mata.)
    It’s particularly weird with the plain “rape” violations, since that word is banned on the realm forums (one cannot even post about “Asimov’s Drape”, an in-game item, without the second word getting filtered).  I understand that there may be occasions when that word simply exists as part of a larger word, but I suppose I’d err on the side of blocking more offensive names while prohibiting a few legitimate ones allowing them all.
    I’d like to say that I don’t want to ban the use of the words in-game (though I certainly hate seeing the word “rape” being used to describe PVP), but I am very much opposed to it in character names.  In reply to Babb, yes, I don’t have the “right to force others to conform to my desires”, but these names are in violation of Blizzard’s TOS.  You certainly have the right to report infractions of the TOS, just as in real life you have the right to report crimes.

  7. Rebecca Judd
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    @Bristal – interesting one. I don’t see that prefix much at all. I count myself lucky at present: I don’t know if it’s because I don’t PUG often right now or I’m just lucky with my battlegroups, but I think the most often recurring name nitwibbles are things including “lol” or “imba”. Those things are nowhere near the problem level as offensive words can be, just fall under the annoying category of “rogues called Backstabber” as Metaneira puts it.
    @True Valhalla – Really? I have no knowledge of what it takes to implement these kinds of filters. Would you be able to/up for expanding on that at all?

    @Pathak – True, comments in trade do draw attention to the name. Although I tend to find that a lot of the worst offenders in trade have passable name, I have occasionally logged on to see someone with an awful name doin’ the trade chat thing. Iirc last time I saw that I /whois’ed them and they were a level 1 character, which I guess had been rolled with the explicit purpose of trolling trade with unacceptable topics, just to rile people.

    @Metaneira and Babb – Your standpoint is fair enough, Babb, and I can see where you’re coming from. But do you get offended by offensive names, even if you don’t feel you have a right to expect other people to behave how you wish? I’m just asking because if you do, I don’t think it’s okay for other people to induce that reaction in anyone without very good reason, and you’re certainly not alone in having that reaction to these names.
    (And Meta – Fixed the name typo – should have double checked, but had it in my head as an ‘a’).

  8. Rebecca Judd
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    …my lunchtime PUG has a tank named DKpower. Not so bad, but we also have a mage named ikillbabys. Okay, maybe my battlegroup’s luck has run through the lolrouges.

  9. Babb
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    I’m not really offended by words…written or spoken. I do recognize that the kind of person who uses ‘Rapemachine’ as a character name wants attention and or a reaction. I simply choose not to give either…it motivates them to be even more outrageous.

  10. Babb
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    Its a lot like spiteful teasing in Grade School. The more the recipient of the teases reacts, the more they do it. Mom was smart however and she knew that if you ignored the teasers, it suddenly stopped being fun for them.

  11. Rebecca Judd
    36 mos, 3 wks ago

    Quick general update here – have just found a post from Isotle at Girls Do Play WoW, looking at this topic in response to Metaneira’s post . Find it here.


    @Babb – thanks for the replies, nipping out now, will reply later.

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