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Cleaning up Thunder Bluff 524

Posted by Zonk
from the weild-the-banhammer-of-infinite-justice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Colleen Hannon at Gamers With Jobs is mad as hell, and she's not going to take it anymore. 'Unless you're playing Neopets, online servers are full of foul-mouthed, racist junk-monkeys. The hate-filled miasma they spatter around them has reached the point where many people who could be on those services won't go, and those who do brave it won't go without a posse and riot gear.' She plays out every side of the argument: why things have gotten as bad as they've become, what publishers have and haven't done about it, and why she thinks things are now at unacceptable levels of incivility. She's calling on us gamers to get together and figure this out, because: 'If we wait for the new sheriff in town to fight this battle for us we might not like the town we're left with.' Is it as bad as she says?"
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Cleaning up Thunder Bluff

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  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday May 18, 2007 @11:19AM (#19180175) Journal

    the hate-filled miasma they spatter around them has reached the point where many people who could be on those services won't go
    That's me. I prefer not to surround myself with all that negative energy, I generate enough myself. If an online game company wants my business, they should run a "play nice" server where players who act like that can be bumped to a regular server. I enjoy competition -- but I can't stand the racist, misogynist etc chat to be found in most games.
  • by loafula (1080631) on Friday May 18, 2007 @11:33AM (#19180391)
    I completely understand that people are offended by foul language, but I don't understand why. The only reason I see for people to take offense is that it's learned behavior- i.e. "Those words upset me cause mommy and daddy told me they should."
  • by nomadic (141991) * <> on Friday May 18, 2007 @11:35AM (#19180435) Homepage
    "Just words"? Language is the core of human culture. Language affects emotion, if it didn't literature, poetry, song--these things would be pretty much pointless. If language can create positive emotions, why is it so hard to believe it can create negative ones?

    Plus I love the English language. If you have to put profanity in every sentence, you're doing a lousy job of speaking it, and that annoys me. It's like watching someone drive a ferrari without knowing how to shift; it makes me wince.
  • Go home care bear! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by earnest murderer (888716) on Friday May 18, 2007 @11:42AM (#19180605)
    Just kidding... I play on a Roleplay PVP server which is more or less equivalent to asking a bum to emote while he rapes you. Not my first choice, but if I want to play with my meatspace friends...

    I blame anonymity myself. I mean I think that everyone from the Pope down to Jimmy Swaggart is pretty much an asshole at heart. Most of us have a handle on it most of the time and some people even try to avoid pushing other people's "buttons". But lack of accountability is a huge problem, add anonymity and some abstraction to the mix and many people loose their only reason for not being a jerk. It doesnt help that many people refuse to accept or assign accountability based on their own political motivations or worse, whim.

    It is believed by some that many people are perfectly nice in person but for some unknown reason they become animalistic online... I think this is flawed logic. It's far more likely that said person(s) is a jerk, but concequences keep them from acting out.

    So yea, a meaningful identity online would help tremendously. But that's a can of toxic, radio active worms, even if you did open it and balance exposure/anonymity in a way that kept people happy. Eventually (and not very long I'm sure) some politician somewhere would wreck it for everyone in a dead of nigh bill, or simply declare it their purview.

    In the long run I think I would prefer to live with it as-is, and if I want decorum I'll get within arms reach.
  • My advice - move on (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scuba_steve_1 (849912) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:13PM (#19181143)
    Choose you servers more carefully.

    For example, I play COD2 exclusively. I belong to a online gaming "clan" that hosts this game and a number of others (BF2, BF2142, UO). In support of these games, we maintain game servers, a Vent voice chat server, forums, and a public website. Our overall philosophy is to provide an environment for fun and cheat-free play. We do not allow in-game typed profanity or harassment of other players. As far as voice chat goes, we only allow profanity in our 16 and older Vent channels. All other channels are rated G. Also, regardless of what channel you are in, harassment (sexist, racial, or otherwise) is NEVER tolerated. How do we manage it? Mature RCONs and Vent channel admins...who are on most of the time and available via IM, email, and phone when necessary.

    Are we unique? Not at all. There are many mature groups of players who have banded together to form such positive playing environments.

    If you are stuck on a Blizzard server, my sympathies.
  • This problem has been solved elsewhere. I used to spend a lot of time working in video production and in the theater; in 90% of theaters and studios, they use a headset intercom system made by ClearCom. It's a pretty simple "party line" (or sometimes 2 channel) system, where everybody has a headset and a belt pack, with a PTT switch. The PTT can also be locked on, if you need hands-free operation.

    However, the designers realized that letting people lock on their mics could get pretty annoying in a hurry, for exactly the reasons you mentioned -- everybody else on the circuit doesn't need to hear you breathing, swallowing, talking to people not on the 'com, etc.

    So they have a feature where the person at the master console can hit a button, and 'unlock' everyone's mics that are locked on. The way this is done is actually a pretty neat use of analog electronics, but it's not really relevant. The point is that the PTT-lock is a "soft lock" (the button doesn't lock down mechanically or anything), so it can be remotely unset. So that way if the person at the master console needs to break in, or just gets tired of hearing you breathe into your mic, they can just hit the button and shut you up (at least long enough to reach down and hit the button again).

    Seems like this would be a good feature for video games that feature a team 'com, because essentially they're doing the same things as ClearComs in a production studio. You'd have a team leader, and they'd have the capability of unhooking people's stuck mics if they started yelling at their mom.

    The only hardware change is that you have to have the PTT switch as a separate control line, rather than as part of the audio feed. (You have to have separate "headphone out," "mic in," and "PTT" lines, like most 2-way radios, rather than just "headphone" and "mic," with the PTT switch installed in the mic line.) This allows the mic keying to be done in the console, rather than in the headset -- which is really where it should be, even on a full-duplex connection. Also, it would let you actually use the PTT switch as more than just a switch for your own mic; you could set it up so that a quick double-tap of the PTT by the person in charge would unset other people's mics, and/or you could put the PTT switch any place you wanted, not just on your headset. (You could use it via a footswitch, or on your controller, or any other place you wanted.)

    Anyway, 'teamspeak' and other systems are relatively new in the video game world, but the problems you're describing aren't new or very unique; they're all solved issues in other mediums, and hopefully someone in the video-game world will eventually take a look at some of those other systems and borrow the solutions.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:44PM (#19182595) Homepage

    America's Army still has the best solution. Their in-game implementation of the United States Army Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. They just put griefers in a barred cell from which there is no escape, and keep them there for a while. There's nothing to do in the cell, except peer out the little barred window and watch the sun go down.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a> on Friday May 18, 2007 @02:03PM (#19182863) Homepage Journal
    So your argument is "Your a better man for being called a fag by hormonal 13 years who pee into their Mountain Dew bottles"? I disagree. I think that Blizzard, and other MMO makers, lose some degree of profit from harboring hostile player atmospheres. I know I finally quit playing, in part, because I started getting sick the growing amount of idiots out there, and my server wasn't too bad, even (Cenarian Circle [RP]), but the various PvP and RP/PvP servers I played on were just a place for anonymous idiots to inflict themselves on others for fun. Several of my friends refuse to play WoW because of the shear amount of uncouth children running about. Being called a "fag" 60 times an hour is not fun, I don't really care if it makes me a "tougher" person, I'm too old to really care about that anymore. I want to have fun, not build character.

    Not saying that there isn't good people on WoW, over the year or so that I played I managed to get a nice friends list, and join a guild filled with very adult people. I did manage to have some very nice conversations while sitting around in Stranglethorn being bored at 3am. But the more populous places were almost unplayable, like the Crossroads.

    I'd say this would fall into the "tragedy of the commons" ideology. Just because you can be a moron, doesn't mean you HAVE TO be a moron. Arguments of character building aside, why should I accept being called a "fag", ever? How is this acceptable in a polite society?
  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Friday May 18, 2007 @02:50PM (#19183577) Journal
    The only thing I recieve at this point in WoW is guild chat, pm's and party messages. Everything else is ignored. Our guild is big enough (Dark Hand of Chaos on Gilneas) that anything you'd want to sell has a taker in the guild. Same with speciality services such as lock picking... there's always somebody in the guild that can do some obscure thing.

    Yes, I know my aruguments are guild centric...
  • by aafiske (243836) on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:10PM (#19183913)
    The difference is, in a basketball if someone mouths off nonstop for 15 minutes about how you are a giant fag for stealing the ball and getting two points, you can go break their nose. The implied threat of such an action generally keeps the taunting and trash-talking on a level that is feather-ruffling, and insulting if you are thin-skinned, but not 'fighting words'.

    Online, there are no 'fighting words'. There is no barrier, no repercussions for actions, no tarnishing of your actual name by your behavior in game.

    Saying 'it's just trash talk, it's your own fault for caring' misses the point.
  • by Spy Hunter (317220) on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:38PM (#19184339) Journal
    I think the real problem is that online games are almost exclusively about aggression. In almost all online games, the primary way you interact with the game world is a weapon. Even when you're in a party you're sometimes competing with your own party members. Until we have games that are founded on cooperation instead of competition, where your primary tools are something other than guns and swords, players of online games are going to be aggressive toward each other.

    It's the nature of the games themselves, which is of course a side effect of the people who work in the game industry, but also a cause. It's a vicious cycle. However, there is hope on the horizon, and it comes from the (unlikely) direction of Valve software and Team Fortress 2. Have you seen the latest trailer for Team Fortress 2 []? The facial animation software is nothing short of incredible. This is a key tool that has been missing from games for years. If it can be merged with a procedural animation system, Valve will have finally brought down the barriers to creating movie-quality character development and plots in games.

    Team Fortress won't have a movie-worthy in-game plot, to be sure, but the personality and above all *humor* infused into Valve's characters is already a welcome change from typical FPS fare. OTOH, something like Portal could be a breakthrough game.
  • by C0rinthian (770164) on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:38PM (#19184343)
    They're placing restrictions on trial accounts in the patch. They can't trade via mail, trade window, or auction house. They can't whisper anyone who doesn't have them on friends lists. They're limited to level 20. (I think) They are also putting a limit on how many messages a person can send in a set amount of time.

    So basically, spammers are getting killed next patch.
  • Filtering Fun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:49PM (#19184493) Homepage
    We once ran a small chat and gaming system where I worked. It had a general chat channel, and when people paired up to play a game, such as chess or checkers, it would make a private channel for them.

    Because this was a family service, we had to try to police conduct in the general channel, and because we didn't have the staff to monitor it live 24/7, it fell to me to try to automate some of this. That actually worked fairly well. We had a very large dictionary of naughty words and phrases. When you said something, my filters basically looked for any of those things, and '*'ed them out. The filter ignored whitespace, and it also considered certain characters to be equivalent, so if you wrote 5h17, that would match 'shit', since it knew a 5 could take the place of an s, and so on. However, before filtering, it did a spell check on your text, and marked all the words that were spelled right and were not on the bad word list as safe. For example, if you said "wash it", it would not see the "sh it" as something bad.

    This worked surprisingly well. It caught it when people tried tricks like inserting spaces to break up the bad words, but usually did not get false positives, because of the spell check protector stuff. Well, unless you were a lousy speller, but if a lousy speller got kicked off incorrectly for profanity, it still improved things. :-)

    One other little trick it did. When it filtered out something in your message, it only did that on the message sent to other people. The copy that echoed back to your system was uncensored.

    When you got caught, it would send you a message warning you to watch your language. If you ignored the warning, an admin bot would ban you for a period of time. Repeared bans would be for longer times.

    One thing that disappointed me: no one ever tried to use Klingon profanity to get around the filters. I had that covered in the filters, and was hoping to see the reaction when the users discovered that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 18, 2007 @04:00PM (#19184663)
    This is just total crap I have been playing MMORPG Games for 12 years now. Old Games Like Meridian 59 never had things like this. You also do not see it in other games. Why quite simply because there was no race wars or "good vs evil" or anything like that. If someone was acting out of line and you didn't like it you killed them plain and simple. And unlike WOW death penalties hurt. M59 everything you wre carring drop at the feet of your killer for them to pick through. You lost the equivalent of a level. You seariously could kill someone enough times to put them back to a newbie, which did happen. Basically this was much more like old times where if you acted up someone would come along and kill you. The server handled itself, this left the devs and mod free to create new content and so on not police people. Also back then if you were not tough enough you hired my Guild. Thats what we always claimed to be, The Assassins Guild, basically the trashmen of the server we kept the servers clean.

    Basically what your seeing in online games is what you will be seeing in real life eventually. Games took out PVP and made safe areas because people whined that it was unfair that they got killed several times that by running thier mouth there was consequences. School playgrounds used to be the same way. Kids that ran thier mouths got beat up every bully eventually got what was coming to them. Now we have playground where every kids is playing games where everybody wins, everyone is equal, if someone acts up on the playground well then they get a talking to. This is what happens folks.

    While yes I killed people in the games for money there was a penalty as well. Since I was labled in the game rules as a murder if I died I lost twice what someone else would I gained experience slower it was my price I was willing to pay. So if someone runs thier mouth in games they should be willing to pay the price of being rerolled by the mobs.
  • by Phrogman (80473) on Friday May 18, 2007 @05:26PM (#19185683) Homepage
    And thats the best way to do it I think. These are roleplaying games, so institute instanced prison cells, and stick the offending people in them. Vary the amount of time based on the offense, and with a few strikes you are out (ie the company deletes your account and all characters, thanks for playing). People will smarten up really quick.

    Offensive Language/Behaviour - your toon is locked in prison for X number of hours. 2nd Offense, its X *days*. Plus you get fined say 20% of your current bank account.

    Racist Language/Harassment - your toon is locked in prison for X number of days, lose all current in game bank account.

    Buying in game credits from a Credit spammer - Delete the entire account.

    I think it would work well overall.

    I think in Pirates of the Burning Sea they are planning on Hanging offending griefer types publically. I hope they do it, even if it encourages people to get hung, at least it will publically demonstrate that something is being done. I think in game pillories would be excellent as well. Spending the next 2 hours you are logged in with people abusing your toon in a public market might be annoying enough.

    Sure, in RL this stuff doesn't work that well, but in game I think it might work quite well.
  • by deanoaz (843940) on Friday May 18, 2007 @06:01PM (#19186085)
    >>> How is this acceptable in a polite society?

    The Internet is not a polite society. As the GP said, you just have to accept the fact that anything can be said there at any time and adjust to it.

    In a way, the idiots are doing you a favor. How hard is it to find out that a random stranger is a sick loser who should not be trusted or associated with--if they are being restrained in what they can say and do? It can be hard enough to end up costing you.

    Every time somebody lets you know they are a waste of space at no appreciable cost to you, you have profited by how easy you got that information, and you can act accordingly.
  • by Locriology (1097777) on Friday May 18, 2007 @06:09PM (#19186165)
    You're right from the business perspective. From the consumer's perspective, if there's always someone in that store annoying you, you would probably just stop going to that store.
  • Re: spamsentry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday May 18, 2007 @07:36PM (#19186841)

    Don't even bother reporting the spammers with spamsentry. Blizzard has already stated that they are overwhelmed by reports from that mod and their logging (apparently) isn't good enough to track the culprits - who usually fire off a barrage of spam and then delete the account.

    Do you happen to have a reference for that? I wouldn't be suprised if their logging is that lackluster. Seems security is often an after-thought (and by then its really difficult to deal with).

    Better use of spamsentry is this: /spamsentry options ignorebylevel 2

    Thanks for the tip! Reporting spam was sort of loosing its novelty value anyway. :)
  • by JoelMartinez (916445) on Friday May 18, 2007 @08:35PM (#19187231) Homepage
    "... give permission ..." heh, that implies that they don't already have the ability to listen in on your tender "cyber" in a secluded room in stormwind

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken