Thursday, November 22, 2012

The community response to Trolls and Asshats

I have been really impressed with the amount of people that have had positive responses to handling bullies, asshats and trolls in the WoW community.  Genowen's incident has created a plethora of great reading and some really influential people have voiced their opinions as well.  I hope that Blizzard listens and takes some positive steps for us to be able to counteract bad behaviour within our game, because ever since we opened up the game outside of our own servers, we have seen a huge increase in the amount of bad behaviour.  When people acted like idiots on a server, they were shunned and never got into big guilds to raid, or even dungeon.  They had to leave the server to start afresh.  Now, they can do a random where nobody knows them and continue to act in a shameful manner.

Many people have commented about how reporting a player has become nearly useless, with nothing done, at least not visibly, when complaints are made.  Perhaps Blizzard is so snowed under with complaints that they don't have the time or manpower to deal with these complaints, and so it appears to us that the "Authorities" are not dealing with the bad behaviour that we are seeing more and more often.  A consequence of that is that more people feel that they can now get away with the bad behaviour, and other MMOs have come up with some interesting solutions to these problems.

I wrote recently that we should all stand up against bullying and trolling.  But what can Blizz do for us to make it a better game for us all?
  • Stubborn wrote a series of posts about Community.  His post, "Spare the Rod, Spoil the gamer" illustrated with a series of diagrams the relationship between bully, victim and authority and he talked about a tribunal system like the one in League of Legends.  An interesting idea, and I think has a lot of merit, but it also could be used as a bullying tool if the bully had enough friends.
  • Girls gone WoW featured Gen and Sal on their show and had a huge discussion about asshat behaviour and how as a community we should be standing up against this behaviour.
  • Group Quest also talked about Asshats and what we can do as a community.
  • Genowen wrote a post "Honour the Game", which is basically a beginner's guide to being polite within an MMO.   She also noticed the big guns at WoWInsider are also engaging in the topic.  
    • Matthew Rossi's "What Does Community Mean in World of Warcraft?" says that the community is not dead, but it's just moved into guilds, and into realID/battletag parties and raids.  Which I think is an accurate analogy.  However, that means, you have to have friends to have a community, and for the shy person or the first timer, that can be hard, and daunting.
    • Allison Robert's article "Sphere of Jerkitude: That's it, I'm outta here" talked about someone who dropped from a party because of an inappropriate comment.  However, did dropping the party hurt the person or encourage them to act differently?  I'm not too sure it did.  I understand that people don't want to be near or around anyone who is offensive, but there has to be a more positive way to deal with that.  Reporting, as I mentioned is ineffective, but I think that it should still be done, as part of the "pathway" for dealing with bad behaviour.
    • Anne Stickney wondered "Should players be in charge of accountability" and discussed some of Stubborn's ideas about the Tribunal system.  A lot of commenters said that a 94% punish rate was harsh - but is it harsh if those 94% WERE offenders?  It's hard to know the truth behind it all, but I think that the community should be allowed to dictate some of the punishments.  However, I know people can be harsh when they think they are right, and I would hope that tolerance, understanding and forgiveness would be part of the equation, and not just punishment, as people can be genuinely sorry for what had occurred.
  • Gen also said Twizz from Twizzcast spoke about it on Episode 29 as well, and was all fired up against Asshats!
  • Balkoth of Balkoth's Word brings something a little different to the discussion - the hard core raider, who is not necessarily an asshat, but enter an LFR or an LFD with a different attitude and that attitude can conflict with others within the group.  It makes the hard core raider act like an asshat because they are superior in DPS/healing/knowledge/gear compared to all the "noobs" who are trying to learn an encounter.  Tolerance, and patience are key things here because not every "leet" raider is like that.
  • Doone wrote about Defining Gaming Communities and he made an interesting comment
    "I think this is a good reason the WoW community is appallingly fractured these days. In the olden days of the game, the audience was very specific, very niche and the game celebrated that. It’s a victim of it’s own success; becoming so wildly popular pressured the devs to accommodate all their new fans... Today we have possibly the most multicultural audience in that game, where literally all kinds of people play. Common ground is rare... Players *do* have very disparate goals..."
    The difference, the disparity between the skill mixes is what leads to conflict.  When people's goals are so different, there is bound to be friction.  Which is where I said, that patience and tolerance is part of the whole getting along.  It's very similar to what Balkoth was saying.
So what can Blizzard do?  People have talked about better reporting and action on tickets, of adopting the tribunal or a town crier name and shame system.  Perhaps allowing people to choose what kind of skill level they want to play with in a random may be a solution.  Beginner and Expert?  That would work in battlegrounds too.  However, you can see problems with that in that a whole heap of Experts queueing in a battleground to decimate the beginners.  However, for those in LFR, perhaps having the more skilled people playing together may result in less friction and the beginners all playing together HOPEFULLY learning the fight there so that the more experienced aren't screaming that they're carrying people or these people are wasting their time.

It would be nice if you could "select" the raid labelled "polite raid".  Then everyone would be of the same mindset and griefers and bullies could be more easily kicked or reported.

I have to agree with Matthew Rossi, community still exists.  There is the blogging/podcast community, the twitter community, and of course battletags.  It's just not a community of strangers anymore.  And if you meet nice people, you can always battletag them so that your own little community gets bigger, and you will have more nice people to play with.  I know I said before that you should stand up to bullies, but I think that you have to reinforce the good behaviour as well.  But I guess the people you would invite are already nice people, so rewarding them may not change the general communities attitude and manners.

Perhaps as the game evolves, we may find a new community, or a better way to preserve the one that we used to have.  I am not sure we will ever have the one we used to have again, but I sure as well will try my best to get it back.


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