Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Offensive You Are

So there is going to be some changes in how we can contact Blizzard in order to report someone that is somehow offensive to us. See Here. It'll be easier to report a player because they have a name that makes us uncomfortable or is exploiting the game, foul language or violating some other important policy.

The easy argument against this sort of change is that 'people will abuse this new feature and report innocent players for things they may not even have done because they "suck", or some other frivolous reason.' Guess what, rules and laws of games and real life get broken or cheated all the freakin' time, so suck it up and let's not worry about those who abuse those laws for now, we can deal with them in due time. What I'm thinking about today is WHAT IS OFFENSIVE TO YOU and WHY DO YOU CARE?

I admit, I am not the type of person who feels that not only should people do whatever they want but that nobody else has any right to complain about their behavior, that if "you don't like it you can ignore it". To be clear, I do believe that people should be free and are free to choose their own behavior and for the most part that their behavior does not affect me or my life or how I feel and act any/every day of my life. But every civilized society that I have ever studied, from ancient Egyptians to Chinese to Greek to Roman, from British to French, American Indian and modern day Americans, all have had some rule of law. One of the reasons, I believe, that humans do this is that we all believe that although we should be granted certain freedoms that sometimes actions of us humans injure others; that, with obvious exceptions, is key to understanding every law or rule that every country, business, or game implements.

Very few people believe in true anarchy, I know I do not. I think that we do have a responsibility to those people around us, that form our circle of influence and even those beyond it. I believe this perhaps because of the way I was raised, perhaps because of some human instict that tells me that something is wrong about hurting another human, perhaps for other reasons I don't understand at all. But this responsibility does not mean that I can't live the way I want, so the big question is WHERE IS THE LINE?

When you sign up to play any game you must agree to a standard of rules and laws that govern not only how we play the game but how we interact with those within. One of the wonderful things about our world, and I truly believe this, is there are people from all variety of backgrounds. There are absolutely selfish dolts that everything they do is solely for their own gratification, even and especially at the expense of others. There are nearly perfectly charitable people who give of all their time and talents to lift others up and try to make the lives of others better than their own, even sometimes at their own expense. Then there is mostly everyone else, who any given day will swing from one extreme to the other, or slowly swing in the middle ground between those extremes.

Full disclosure, I'm not one who cries out for politically correct speach, but it's also important to be sensitive to how your actions affect others. It's a difficult to sometimes impossible balance, but I at least make an effort. Now, character names, many of which are clever and well thought out. I enjoy wondering what it was that drove "that guy" to name himself "that name", as I'm sure for everyone it's a little different. Myself I use combinations of names in my family or friends, then change some sounds and letters around but still all myself to know to whom I am referring. Other times I'll simply just make up sounds and combinations and try to come up with a fantasy name that seems to fit both the game and race of the character I'm naming.

Others see naming as an opportunity to point out what class they play, like "Isapu" or "Shamtastic" or "Palistrong" or "Huntress". While I don't have much respect for people who use the class name or specialization name as their own name, it doesn't offend me but simply makes me shake my head. I would hope that you would be more clever than to call yourself "Elemental" (if you play an elemental shaman), but I take no offence.

But names that do offend me may not offend you, but why should I care if a name offends me? Should I not just let you live your life and you let me live mine? "It's just a game, noob"!!!! But when I least expect it, up pops a name that does offend me. My reasons are my own, but for the two times that I actually have reported someone it wasn't that just it offended me, but it was in blatant violation of the naming rules. So, someone clearly broke the rules, many people felt it wasn't their place to tell this person how to name their characters, and so it only came down to me, who did take offence. The funny thing was was that once the person changed the name, they only changed the spelling, but the phonetic sound meant that he/she didn't change the name at all. I sent a second report and since that day I have not seen that name.

All I'm saying is that when I make a name I don't ever believe that my name is offensive to anyone, and perhaps I should give people the benefit of the doubt that they don't think what their name is can possbily offend. But people are clever, smart, and not at all cut off from the world entirely. So when I see a name that is so obviously offensive, I know that that person does not believe that I should care, that they have no social responsibility to keep their character's name within the rules that THEY AGREED TO in the first place. So basically, I know people will break and abuse rules, and they do it knowing that the majority of us are either complicit or to cowardly to do anything about it. They flaunt their name without shame or regret. And I, even I, will sometimes just let it slide because I will probably never see them after this random BG or LFR/LFD, so why do I care?

I have made a rule, to apply to myself alone, that I won't report anyone who's not on my realm. The reason is what I just said, becuase there is a good chance that I don't have to walk around Stormwind seeing this person flaunt the rules in my face, and offend me in the process. To this day I have only ever reported two people, both on my main realm, and I suspect that I may never report but one more person at most before I quit. But maybe, just maybe, given that it'll be so much easier to do the reporting that I might, in a fit of rage in a lost cause of a BG report that person who combines profanity with something religious, because let's face it, I'm allowed to take offence, even though most of the time I don't act on it.

I don't know what cheating is most of the time. It's not very easy to detect for me, to be honest. There was one time it appeared that some dude in Warsong Gulch was jumping through a wall to get away from us, but I can't say for sure because I couldn't see him. Do I report him for cheating when I didn't actually see him jump INTO then OUT of the wall? I suspected he was in there, but I couldn't prove it.

This week in Beta there were some Warlocks who were taking advantage of a bug that game them super powers, essentially, and engaged in killing quest givers and kings and warchiefs all by their lonesome. My own Warlock, Gronthe, experienced this bug, but I didn't go around shredding camps of Alliance or killing questgivers or soloing faction leaders. Funny thing, however, is when I saw people brag about their exploits on the beta forums...yes, people admitting not just that they experienced the bug and the conditions under which it occured, but that they actually exploited the bug to do things that they should not have been doing (according to the rules of the game or common sense would suggest they shouldn't do).

Yet I was reported for exploiting the bug, something that my conscience can clearly say that I did not. Replicate and report it, yes, but exploit no. So someone takes the opportunity to report any Warlock with more than 300K health and assumes guilt. Fine, they can do that, but from my perspective I did nothing wrong. I suppose that's how some people feel when it comes to names. They don't like that this or that happened or you're running around with this or that name and you get reported.

In the end we cant' control each other, only ourselves. I would hope that most of the people who read my blog will use some common sense when/if they use this new reporting feature. But you are responsible for the names you give your character, you are responsible for following rules you agreed to, and you are free to turn your head or report according to your own beliefs. I cannot say at what point you are offended or you are offensive. I guess I'll know it when I see it, or feel it.

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