Is Griefing Fixable? Has One Game Done It?

Over the years, many people have argued that griefing, bullying and abusive language are just the nature of MMOs, and you can’t fix them. It looks like they might be wrong.

Today we’ve got three interesting posts on the subject of hostile MMO communities, including details of how League of Legends has apparently succeeded in massively cleaning up its infamously hostile player-base:

  • Stubborn looks at the interactions involved in bullying, between the bully, the victim, the audience, and the (often absent) authority“The bully attacks the victim for something from the audience – it could be popularity, support, attention, or fear – while the victim seeks help from the authority, who (should) comes down on the bully. “
  • Spinks asks whether, based on her experiences in MoP, one way to diminish abusive player behaviour is just to make content easier“But really, random groups need easier content to make up for the fact that they won’t have as much experience at working together, are less likely to communicate, and are likely to contain players of widely differing skill and experience levels. “
  • And Gameronimist looks at the success of the “Honor” system and more in League of Legends, and how well it’s worked“Isn’t this what Scott has been talking about the whole time? The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. People don’t need rewards to stop acting like assholes. They just need some intrinsic motivation to do so. “

What do you think? Can LoL’s success be applied to other games?

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The AARGH TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF weekend roundup

And here’s our regular Monday evening roundup of the rest of the great blog posts from the weekend. Except it’s not, quite.

See, this weekend has been particularly fruitful in the blogosphere – to the point that even with three multi-link posts, we’ve not been able to fit everything in without firing a “MoP announcement roundup”-sized link post at you! So, instead, I’m going to be running a couple of the really great posts from the weekend later in the week.

So, that means you get a mere seven great links today:

  • Peregrina at Piercing Shots writes a superb post on just why you shouldn’t be worried to report or ticket offensive behaviour“All we’re doing when we put in a ticket is bringing something to their attention. Nothing more than a “hey, you should take a look at this.””
  • Thinking of starting EVE? Cyndre at Kill Ten Rats explains why his experiences, as a self-confessed MMO masochist, may not be the norm“Please be excited about Eve, and keep following my adventures if they interest you, but be careful not to ruin your own experience by following in the footsteps of a jaded old MMO vet hell-bent on breaking every last ship that can be flown in New Eden.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob writes a great post about the MMO features he’d like all MMOs to steal from their originators“For those who haven’t played Rift, there is a little button at the bottom of the vendor tab that allows to sell all your gray named drops, stuff that is clearly trash, in one fell swoop. And once you have this button, not having it in another game feels like a huge burden. “
  • Tales of the Rampant Coyote offers a detailed and very readable summary of what’s going on with the games industry, Kickstarter, and the role of publishers“Publishers can still dominate on the mass-market front… that’s what they are built for. But these other aspects of their business, especially on smaller scales, are no longer so easy to dominate.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires writes an insightful piece on Blizzard’s WoW strategy and how it means they keep more players“I think the real key to holding onto players is in giving them a variety of compelling, by otherwise rather inconsequential, sub-games to occupy themselves with. This is something Blizzard does very, very well and, if the feature list in Mists of Pandaria is anything to go by, they’ve certainly come to realise the power it holds.”
  • Syl at Raging Monkeys brings up a feature request I’d never thought of – the ability to turn targeting highlights off in MMOs“What is it with the white frame all around my target? I have eyes and a target window popping up – I can already see what I got targeted! It doesn’t matter if they are white, green or any other shade; full-body target highlights are obtrusive, ugly and unnecessary!”
  • And Are We New At This spotlights a fantastic-sounding new cross-realm raiding community – OpenRaiding“It is an invaluable tool, one that already has over 20,000+ users, and you should get on board while you can!”

Enjoyed these posts? Please consider sharing the word!

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Is the tide turning on WoW’s LFR?

Looking For Fail. Looking Fail Raid. The LF Tool Tool.

LFR does not have a particularly stellar reputation amongst WoW players, and for good reason. Of late, everyone’s attention has been focussed on the looting situation in LFR, which has gone from bad to worse –

or has it?

We’ve got three different perspectives on the present and future of LFR today, including, I’m glad to say, a message of hope:

  • The Grumpy Elf ain’t made any cheerier by his LFR loot experiences, and today offers a suggestion for improving Looking For Raid’s looting system – just have us collect teeth“Whenever you defeat a boss in the current tier of the LFR you will loot a tooth off the boss as proof of the bosses demise. Simple as that. There will be no loot drops, there will be no rolling, all you need to do is bend over and loot the boss.”
  • The Godmother recounts a particularly abusive LFR situation, calling upon all of us to act to prevent LFR bullying“It doesn’t matter what loot rules you put in place, you’re never going to find a way to restrict idiots like this. Some people’s idea of enjoyment is a Universe away from everyone else’s, and thriving on other’s upset and discomfort is something that, quite frankly, makes me ill just thinking about it.”
  • And Big Bear Butt brings us a message of hope, reporting that he’s been seeing a pattern of behaviour in LFR – random unprovoked acts of kindness“without warning a trade window is opened, and the piece of loot is placed there. No conversation, nothing. I accept, and whisper back my thanks and appreciation. The person then says something along the lines of, “No problem, I didn’t need it and you looked like the person who could use it the most.””

What do you think of the state of LFR right now?

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The Demise of Tanking, Mozilla Makes An MMO, and Why Play EVE Online?

Yeah, really, they really really did…

  • Dragonchasers links to something extremely cool – a new indie MMO-ish RPG by a buncha new developers called “Mozilla Foundation”. Sounds familiar for some reason… Yes, HTML5 really can run an MMO.
  • Out Of Beta writes a really excellent, lengthy and detailed analysis of the scandal in EVE yesterday – I’ve added this one to the roundup post on that topic – really worth reading: “The Mittani made a mistake, unfortunate The Mittani also happens to be Mittens, and just because he had a different hat on, doesn’t mean he can get a pass. Doing so would set a dangerous precedent of people adopting “identities” with which to execute unwanted behavior with the expectation that they can avoid punishment for their primary identity.”
  • And if you’re asking, as many people are, why anyone would play EVE Online after all that, Jef Reahard at Massively has an interesting, well-timed article on why he plays EVE“She would die to have actual in-game trade routes governed by the laws of supply and demand, and she seeks this functionality out in every new MMO. When I tell her that EVE is the only game where she can actually smuggle (or run and develop actual trade routes), though, she frowns and says yeah that’s great but I don’t want to be a spaceship.”
  • And finally, Meloree at Sacred Duty laments the extent to which raid tanking has become simpler in raiding WoW, and asks if the pendulum will swing back – “We were left with a tier where tanks had very little movement to do, very little position to worry about, no threat rotation to be concerned about – our job was largely to show up and stand in front of a boss. Showing up was essentially the entire bar to success as a tank, there was no opportunity to fail. “

Are you playing EVE still? Or a tank in WoW?

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The Mittani calls for another player to be harassed into suicide – Blogger reactions

I honestly don’t know quite what to say about today’s news from EVE Online. During a drunken presentation at the EVE Fanfest, Alexander “The Mittani” Gianturco gave out in-game contact details for a player he knew to be depressed, and encouraged the EVE playerbase to harass him into suicide.

No, I’m not exaggerating. Massively has the full details, including Gianturco’s subsequent apology.

We’ve talked about harassment in MMOs before, but this is by far the most egregious example I’ve ever heard of – not least because Gianturco is one of the most powerful, respected and listened-to players in EVE.

Reactions from the blogosphere so far:

  • EctMMO talks about this incident in the context of a wider issue – that even if you’re playing a persona, your actions still have consequences“As the years go by, I see more and more of this type of behavior and it just seems so mainstream. Oh they didn’t mean it, they’re really a nice person in real life. How about taking responsibility and having some decency about yourself and others in the community that you play in, no matter what game it is?”
  • Multiplaying.net defends EVE Online and its players, and hopes that Gianturco will not be forced out of his position of power for his actions” People didn’t vote for The Mittani because he is an evil space emperor (well okay maybe some did). They voted for him because he legitimately wants to see EVE improve and become a better game. “
  • Muckbeast finds the entire community ethos of EVE Online fostered by CCP to be sickening“I’m consistently impressed by their open world, single server, high skill cap design, but depressed by their encouragement of a community based on harassment, abuse, and betrayal.”
  • Proving that the internet is home to a startling plurality of opinions, Syncaine would appear to support The Mitanni in his original actions (although he may be trolling) – “Killing off the weak is not always a bad thing. And in the right context, can be highly entertaining.”
  • Tobold discusses the situation as an example of the extent to which actions in virtual worlds cannot be consequence-free“There are jurisdictions in which cyber-bullying is a crime. If The Mittani succeeds in driving that player into suicide, with video proof of inciting that cyber-bullying available on the internet, he could well end up in jail.”
  • Out Of Beta writes a really excellent, lengthy and detailed analysis of the scandal“The Mittani made a mistake, unfortunate The Mittani also happens to be Mittens, and just because he had a different hat on, doesn’t mean he can get a pass. Doing so would set a dangerous precedent of people adopting “identities” with which to execute unwanted behavior with the expectation that they can avoid punishment for their primary identity.”

It must be said, this situation puts CCP in a very difficult situation. If they don’t censure Gianturco, they’re sending a very strong message about what is acceptable in EVE, and it’s not a good message to send. This incident could taint every game they produce for years to come.

On the other hand, if they do remove him from the EVE player council, he has enough influence to badly damage CCP’s business if he wants to. He may or may not – his apology sounds genuinely contrite, although it’s worth bearing in mind his position as a politician.

They’re in a catch-22 situation.

And all of this is further complicated by the fact that unless they’re completely asleep at the wheel (which is a possibility), I’d expect to see the usual anti-video-game suspects picking up on this news story within a few days. Apology or no, Gianturco has handed anyone who wants to beat on video gamers a truly massive stick, if they’re clued-in enough to realise.

What do you think?

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Additional Awesome that couldn’t be contained

Yep, it’s another in the Pot’s infrequent series of Saturday updates! Yesterday had just too much good stuff, so here’s a bonus update with the bits we couldn’t squeeze in:

  • Kat on World of Matticus writes about being harassed and undervalued in WoW because she’s a woman, and what everyone should do about it“It doesn’t matter what world you live in or play in. They are feeding their insecurities by putting you down. From the bully that made fun of you because you were overweight at school to the guild master that didn’t accept your opinion because of your sex. “
  • Klepsacovic of Troll Racials are Overpowered stands alone against the rampant exploit usage of almost every tank in WoW“It’s a pretty common one. I’m sure everyone has done it. It’s not as if it is complex, just a simple little exploit of the pathing and casting AI.”
  • And In An Age discusses just how perfect the world of Mass Effect would be for an MMORPG“Could, in fact, Bioware turn Mass Effect into an MMO without much effort at all? Most of the set pieces are already in place.”

Have a great weekend!

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Being harassed in WoW or another MMORPG? Here’s what to do.

Sometimes, people on the internet can really suck.

Most of us probably know or know of someone who’s had more than the usual levels of hassle in an online game. Every day, hundreds of people are threatened, stalked, or otherwise seriously harassed online. It can be a horrible, isolating experience, and if you’re the one at the sharp end, it’s very easy to feel helpless, or even feel that it’s somehow your fault.

In a post which I really feel can’t be widely linked enough, Apple Cider Mage tackles this problem from personal experience today. She offers a step-by-step guide to surviving, coping, and working with your game’s GMs or equivalent to make the harassment stop

“Harassment/abuse is not your fault. I know it is easy to blame yourself, that maybe if you had done things differently, you wouldn’t be in this situation. But it is not your fault someone responded to whatever happened in an inappropriate, gross way. Ever. No matter what you said, or did, or thought you did.

A lot of times people will harass you for no other reason than being there at the wrong time, or the wrong sort of person to them. There’s nothing you can do to make yourself less or more of a victim, and don’t listen to people who say that you can. Being a victim is because someone wants to hurt you and that’s wrong. It is always their fault for harassing you.

It isn’t just words, it isn’t just “lol internet” and if it affects you, then that’s all that matters. And you can always DO something about it, but don’t feel guilty if you’re scared or terrified. They intend to scare you. That’s what they want. It is very brave to report them, and that’s awesome. “

Apple Cider recently wrote a very brave post detailing her own experience with harassment, which I also recommend reading, whether you’ve personally suffered from harassment or not. It’s an eye-opening look at just what happens online, and how difficult it can be to cope with it.

Her guide is absolutely fantastic. She’s a skilled writer, and clearly knows the subject backward, and it shows – the guide is clear, consise, and specific as to actions to take and expectations to have. I’ve seen a couple of people go through situations with serious harassment, and having support and a roadmap can be enormously helpful – I’d very much like to see this guide widely linked so that as many people as possible can easily find it in time of need.

(My one additional comment would be that it’s always a good idea to talk to the police if the harassment escalates out of game. Whilst, as Apple Cider says, they can sometimes be unhelpful, they can also sometimes be very helpful indeed. I know of at least one situation where harassment stopped extremely quickly after the police became involved.)

Bravo to Apple Cider for writing this. If you’re a blogger, you’re on Twitter, or you’re on Facebook or Google Plus, I’d strongly encourage you to share her guide with your followers. You never know who it might help.

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