Spare the Rod, Spoil the Game – with Lots of Graphics!
In continuing support for Navi’s Anti-Asshat week, which to be clear is not against wearing a fedora on your posterior but against jerks, I thought we’d take a look at the relationship between the players in the game of bullying. To be fair, I’m making all this up, but the more I’m thinking about it, the better it sounds.
Here’s an ugly Stubborn graphic for you.
This shows the most basic bullying relationship. The bully attacks the victim for something from the audience – it could be popularity, support, attention, or fear – while the victim seeks help from the authority, who (should) comes down on the bully. This diagram is, of course, the simplest possibility; there are times the victim does not seek help or rare occasions when bullying is done totally in private or when the audience goes to the authority as a proxy for the victim. However, those are rare situations and not really related to MMO play; in an MMO, there’s virtually always an audience, even if the victim is not aware of it. In Gen’s situation, it’s clear the jerk’s guild was having a good time about it, even if she wasn’t privy to that.
In this diagram, the audience is a passive entity. It is affected, but affects nothing. Blizzard, of course, allows players to report, but since it’s hidden how Blizzard reacts, the diagram looks a little more like this.
Here, the audience is supposedly more empowered to act by putting in an appeal to the authority using the “report” feature. However, since the authority’s responses are secret, all the audience can observe is the effect of the bully on the victim. Human beings are surprisingly simple creatures. If something is out of sight, it’s often out of mind. If the audience believes they have no efficacy in a situation, no ability to change things, then they won’t try (and often will become very dissatisfied with their position, whether it be work or a LFD group). You’ll note too that there’s no visible arrow going into the bully; everything is output or unrelated. That gives the bully all the power.
Invisible lines of justice do this. Punishment needs to be clear and visible for it to be effective. Take my favorite infographic to include, the League of Legends Tribunal infographic.
Look how visible this is, how motivating. It’s a story about efficiency of a system and efficacy of the player. It’s a light against the darkness of the constant complaints about – or worse, acceptance of – the horrible gaming community. Or take what ArenaNet did, as reported to me by Siha. They went to Reddit, the Mos Eisley of the Internet (take that as you will), and explained their decision to ban players who were behaving in racist or otherwise offensive manners. Both of these teams made their punishment public without breaking any privacy standards. In those cases, the bully square might like more like this.
Here, the authority’s response is large and visible. It empowers the audience to speak out against the bully, because they know that the authority backs their standards of acceptability. Here, there’s as much input going to the bully as output. Here, the victim’s being defended on two sides instead of facing the bully apparently alone. This is the ideal outcome of a bully situation, though of course the true ideal is that bullying stops. The audience rejects the bullies behavior, the victim and the audience report it to the authority, and the authority visibly punishes the bully. This diagram of relationships is what we should strive for during anti-asshat week. These expectations are what we should communicate to the devs on a regular basis. This should be the standard, not a penalty failcano of opportunity for repeated abuse.
Stubborn (and graphic)