Streaking in MMORPGs

Posted by on Mar 2, 2012 in Blog, World of Warcraft | 2 comments

Social control is what keeps us from running down the street naked, even so we feel from time to time like we should just do that. All while having half a million reasons and none of them having to do with sex. Just to make it clear, this is not an article about streakers, it’s about social control. Even so there’s a half naked troll dancing in the streets of Ogrimmar in the feature image. But it is about trolls, and other not so welcome players in MMOs.

How often have you been annoyed by the behavior of another player in your game? How often does something similar happen in real life, for instance on the subway, in the nearest Wal-Mart, your neighborhood Starbucks or in your office? Since I ordered this list in a certain way, it happens online at the highest frequency and of course in your office with the lowest frequency. More often on the subway, less at Starbucks. Why? Because the consequences of us misbehaving are very different in each of the venues I’ve listed.

What happens if you mine a node in WOW while somebody else kills some mob that was guarding it? Nothing. Somebody calls you a jerk, and that’s usually all that happens. Unless you are on a PVP server. Rolling need on every single item that drops? Go right ahead, maybe somebody votes to kick you from the group after 3 need rolls. But the dungeon tool will get you into the next one after a short wait.

What happens if you play loud music in the subway? Not much. Maybe there’s a transportation cop around who’ll give you a warning. What happens if you behave like a jerk to the baristas at your Starbucks? You’ll be asked to stay away, and if not, you better check if they aren’t spitting into your beverage. And if you get out of line in your office, there’s a pink slip waiting for you pretty soon. The consequences of your doing are the harshest with people you know. They are the ones who care and speak up.

The wikipedia article about social control says that society is using shame, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism and disapproval as tools for social control. Discrimination and exclusion are the most extreme forms of social sanctions. And that’s a pretty common reaction to trolling or other forms of misbehavior online. The difference is, the perpetrator can avoid the social consequences so easily: He logs out and switches to another character. If he comes back the next day, he’s got most likely a new audience, who hasn’t heard his trolling, and the ones who’ve heard him might have him on their /ignore list. In extreme cases he just deletes the character, asks for a name change or a server transfer. No real consequences. And at no point in time he actually has to look his victim in the eyes.

Syl, over at Raging Monkeys talks about the consequences for raiders  because of the lack of social control. There she explains that it is so easy for players to acquire the gear necessary to raid without learning the skills to raid. Five man dungeons and heroics used to be gate keepers, where players trained the finer points of their class. But with the LFG tool nobody really bothers to interact with a newbie and to show them the ropes. The usual reaction is to call them newbs and kick them, without much consequence for the group, since the next player is 3 clicks away.

I don’t have any solutions to offer to fix the lack of social controls. PVP is not the answer, since it can lead to even worse behavior (griefer, corpse camping and the Jihad of EQ Sullon Zek days). One of my answers is usually to call them out earlier or leave groups where they are in and explaining why you are leaving. It won’t help much with the clinical cases, but occasionally you’ll get an in-game mail from somebody who feels sorry for his actions. Artificial measures like a social vote for a character are easily abused and therefore not very helpful.

In the end, the only way to improve this, is to make our virtual world look more and more like the real world. But who would want that?


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Fallen Earth. INFO

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Fallen Earth | 0 comments

FallenEarth.INFO aims high by wanting to become the #1 Fallen Earth fan and information site, which is entirely possible. The look and feel of the site is inviting and the concept promising. However, an effort like this site requires a lot of help and acceptance from the community. Lets hope this will materialize.

 

 

 

What’s there or planned:

  • Newbie Information Galore
  • Sector Information
  • A Wiki
  • A PVP section
  • A Clan Directory: looking for clan and looking for members
  • Event Calendar and Listing
  • Forum
  • 2000 seats Mumble Server
Here’s the link: http://www.fallenearth.info/

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The Help Channel

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Fallen Earth, Guides | 0 comments

The one thing that sticks out when you enter the Fallen Earth game as a newbie is the help channel. Your chat window starts rolling with questions and answers almost immediately. And as somebody who’s monitored the help channel for a long time, there is no question left unasked and only CAPS LOCK is ignored. I dare say that the presence of the help channel was one of the things that kept the game alive. It made the new player feel welcome, and it’s been said on many occasions what a friendly community this game has.

The drawback of the help channel is the fact that in order to keep it functional, it has to be policed hard. Off-topic chatter or guild recruiting is usually quickly criticized and suppressed. Roleplaying has to be limited to other channels and even the use of foreign language is limited to a sentence or two stating that somebody is looking for fellow players from his country. At first this rule seems discriminatory, but it is the only way for the GMs to monitor the channel for content. The rule has indeed lead to a couple of couple of harassing statements, but even that could be stopped quickly.

The Fallen Earth webpage has a post with frequently asked questions here, but I want to expand on it with the experience of the first 10 days since F2P. I have however some secret (and now not so secret) objections about a help channel FAQ. It’s based on the tendency of the human nature to be to lazy to research and to read and adventurous enough to go out on their own and see what happens.

And here we are, enabling human nature, helping the lost adventurer. Stay tuned for an FAQ in the Guides section


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