Via Massively, I found this little gem of a blog post on Gamasutra from a former EVE GM. It contains some pretty good advice in terms of dealing with problems yourself where possible (if some guy’s being offensive in your custom channel, you can kick him yourself… not rocket science) and not giving out free fodder to the trolls. However, it also reveals where CCP draw the line on players making offensive comments.
Apparently, the line is drawn at making credible real-life threats – the exact point that the police would also get involved. Anything that would get you hauled in front of a judge will be actioned by a GM, anything less than that is apparently A-OK.
I can think of plenty of things that stop short of being Real Life Threats that I would find unacceptable. Personally, I suggest adopting the “punch on the nose” rule. Assume the person you’re addressing is in the same room as you, approximately the same physical size as you and not particularly mentally unstable. If you’re a sexist, misogynistic half-wit and the person you’re addressing is a girl, then assume her boyfriend meets the above criteria. Is what you are saying to that person likely to get you punched on the nose? If so, you crossed the line. People on the internet are still people, so the same standards we’ve evolved through a million years of human social interaction still apply. Violating those standards just because modern telecommunications means you can’t get the punch on the nose you deserve doesn’t make you “liberated” or a “netizen” – it means you’re a coward.
One quote from the article stood out for me. “Game companies are not the Political Correctness Police and cannot be expected to adjust every player’s rotten attitude”. Wrong. Quite apart from the common duty of all human beings to call out assholes for being assholes, it’s good business sense. However much they whine, however much they cry, very few internet feral man-children will actually quit a game they enjoy playing because they aren’t allowed to scream “all faggots should DIAF!”. You don’t even have to ban all that many of them before the rest get the message – once you’ve set a baseline of what behaviour is tolerated, you just have to deal with the occasional slow learner who insists on prodding at the boundaries. However, letting the man-children create an environment in which people can expect to be savaged “for the lulz” creates an environment which a lot of the more grown-up players decide they DON’T enjoy playing in… so they don’t. It’s not a smart decision for any business to let a few of their customers drive off a greater number of customers.
Compare and contrast ArenaNet, who set the tone from the get-go on what sort of language was acceptable. I know people who’ve stopped playing GW2 because they got bored, because the jumping puzzles got too much, because action combat wasn’t their cup of tea of because they were sick and tired of Scarlet. I don’t know any who were driven away or just plain disgusted by an endless barrage of hate speech and insults that would apparently be OK in EVE because they weren’t actual Real Life Threats.