I would like to start by saying that this game is amazing, as is the level of dedication that the Dev team have displayed to making it a fun and safe environment for everyone. Nowhere does this dedication shine brighter than in their stance towards in-game abuse. However, the Dev’s can’t be everywhere, and abuse still happens. Not often, but it does. I am a resident of Sea of Sorrows, and there was a pretty harrowing example of abusive chat in Lornar’s Pass not very long ago. I reported those involved, and took screenshots of what they posted, going so far as to write up my frustration at their actions with the screenshots included on my personal Tumblr page. Not long after, I decided that I needed to do more.
My largest concern with online abuse is the lack of response from the community. When I spoke out against the glorification of topics such askittenin map chat, I was dismissed by those involved and received very little public support from others who were playing on the map. I got plenty of private messages, but it seemed that people were too intimidated to post their objections where the ‘trolls’ could see it. Others told me to just ignore it, make a different tab for map chat and block those involved. I have equated that to sticking my fingers in my ears and whistling – I can’t hear it any more, but the crime is still occurring. I received a very similar response when I shared my post on Facebook, and was very upset when other women told me that such speech was an inevitable part of playing an online game, and to just swap tabs and ignore it. But the sort of behaviour I witnessed in Lornar’s Pass, people extolling the virtues of gangkitten how much fun it was to assault other human beings and generally engaging in truly offensive discussion for the entire map to see, is only an inevitable part of playing an online game if we allow it to be.
This game is rated ‘teen’. That is anyone over the age of twelve years old. Across the world, there are whole new generations of gamers getting ready to enter their first online environments. Surely, we want their first experiences to be positive?
Yes, a lot of what those people were saying was blocked by the profanity filter. However, people are quickly discovering ways to get around this, if they are determined to make sure that their vitriolic statements are seen by everyone. Swapping letters around, including numbers…it isn’t hard.
Some think ignoring the trolls is the best way to deal with them. Others think that voicing your objection will only encourage them to post more – and those people are right. It will. But if you object, and report, then when the support team reviews the chat log, they’ll have all the fuel they need for a perma-ban. And those young gamers will see that people care.
That’s the important thing, because trolls breed through our silence. When we say nothing, even though we report them, the trolls win. Because the younger gamers see these people spewingkittenjokes and other forms of offensive, discriminatory language and statements into map chat. And that no-one is speaking out against them – that is must be okay. That when the trolls start up, map chat dies, because no-one wants to become their next target. It isn’t a stretch for these young gamers to assume that, in order to fully engage in the MMO that they’ve bought and paid for, they will need to imitate the trolls so they can be socially accepted. And thus, the next generation of trolls is born.
People put trolling down to teenage hormones and idiocy, but they’ve learned by example.
I truly believe that we can change things, if we speak up and show that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated, and that the community, not just the dev team, wants to make Guild Wars 2 a safe place for everyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, their nationality – there is no reason we can’t make this happen.
To that end, I have created a page on Tumblr that is dedicated to exactly that. To encourage those who have been the victim of, and/or witnessed online abuse, to speak out against it and not just hit the report button. It is called GW2: The Safe Lodge, and it has already received a great deal of support from those who believe, as I do, that we do not have to accept these abusive trolls as a part of MMO life. Tonight, I am creating it in-game. It will be home to those who have been both affected personally by trolls, and those who believe that gamers should be able to participate in conversation without being discriminated against. It will be a safe place, where any abusive behaviour of any kind won’t be tolerated.
I think it is important to speak out about this, and to create places like the Lodge, hence the long post.
My in-game name is Jane Shepard, so if anyone wants to talk, or would like an invite to the lodge when it is up and running – regardless of your server – send me a tell
(edited by ArrantPath.7459)