Xbox Live Barbarians at the Gates of Virtual Worlds

barbarians at the gates of RomeDespite the amazing advances in information, communication, connectivity and commerce that Cyberspace has provided us, it has one glaring defect: people can behave badly without fear of repercussions because they are essentially anonymous. Arguably the Internet has made everything better about our modern lives except the one thing that really matters — the people that use it. The first generation of Internet users were relatively polite and decent as you needed a certain level of education and income to be able to use and afford a computer back in the days before the Web.

Now that online gaming has evolved into MMOs and virtual worlds we are seeing a mass influx of the second generation of Internet users. Many of them are crude, rude and sophomoric. Why? Because they can get away with it. And it gets worse. Soon an even newer generation of gamers will be entering your favorite MMO: the Xbox Live people. What brought my attention to this was an outstanding article I found that is basically a survival guide to the types of players that one commonly encounters when using the Xbox Live at ToplessRobot called The 10 People You Meet On Xbox Live.

Here the author warns us about the common annoying personalities found there:

Seriously, Xbox Live—the #1 online console gaming service, as Nintendo and Sony desperately make there’s far too complicated—is full of idiots, most of which are the same idiots. No matter what their screen name is, chances are you’ve heard their special brand of idiocy already. Here now are ten types of people you are guaranteed to meet on Xbox Live.

Now here is a brief listing of the 10 types of Xbox Live personality types in all their comic glory:

  1. The Frat Boy Who’s Certain You’re Gay
  2. The Manic Teen Who Loves His Own Voice
  3. The Juvenile Delinquent Who Kills His Own Teammates
  4. The 14-Year-Old Racist
  5. The Redneck Who Modded His Truck
  6. The Egomaniac Teen Who Blames Everyone for Losing but Himself
  7. The 8-Year-Old Without Enough Ritalin
  8. The Late 20-Something Who Should Stop Playing and Deal with the Issue Going On in the Real World
  9. The Late-30s Mensa Member
  10. The Beleaguered Girl

Most of us that have played MMOs for any length of time have already started to notice these people creeping into the MMO community via chat channels and voice communication. If they haven’t already arrived, expect them very soon. They are the barbarians at the gates of our virtual worlds; fresh warm bodies, eager to supplant the existing culture and gladly welcomed inside by video game companies hungry for new subscribers.

Xbox Live players

What really worries me is that as these new people invade MMOs and virtual worlds for the first time, their behavior and lack of social graces will drive out the previous generation of subscribers who no longer feel comfortable. Since the concept of “churn” is so vital to the longevity of MMOs we veterans of the community may soon find ourselves an unwanted and displaced demographic. If the elders of the community are gone, then who will teach the younger generations about the basics of gameplay and social conduct?

The core of all of these problems is that some people are self-absorbed and selfish. They wantonly impinge upon the enjoyment of everyone else by their reckless behavior and hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. If the Internet is to remain a viable form of communication and entertainment then we as human beings need to start treating each other civilly. Naturally some of us do that but there are many that don’t. To combat the offenders, the people that administer the networks/games/communities must be proactive and enforce a code of conduct that makes the online games and virtual worlds an safe and enjoyable experience for the majority of their users.

The legacy of thousands of years of civilization is that we as humans have elevated ourselves because we made rules and followed them for the greater good. The only alternative is anarchy, which pretty much describes what you see in most online games and MMOs these days thanks to a laissez faire philosophy of indifference on the part of companies like Blizzard.

While the Internet has brought us closer together in some ways, in reality it’s created a bigger gap between us due to the incivility that has become the new standard of behavior. The current state of cyberspace is that we enjoy all this freedom without any real responsibility. As long as most of us remain silent and uncaring about the quality of our online communities we shall surely get the Internet we deserve.


6 thoughts on “Xbox Live Barbarians at the Gates of Virtual Worlds

  1. I see what you mean. I’ve started playing online with Everquest and DAoC and I remember how much I talked with people. Then, there was a gap in my online playing that lasted 4-5 years. I recently tried WoW. Beyond the deserted newbie areas, when I talked with people, they were almost invariably selfish: they wanted their quests done, and didn’t care about your quests if they were different. I only met 1 guy who was not only nice, but genuinely tried to help me. Contrary to most players, he spoke with quality grammar and words. After more than half an hour of talking, he went offline because his mom called him for dinner.
    He was 10.
    So all is not lost. There are some in the “new generation” who know the value of civility.

  2. “He was 10″
    Perhaps the most optimistic three words I’ve read for a week or so. :)
    That said, I don’t think that Wolf is denying that there are good players out there. Rather, I just see this pointing out that there are plenty of bad players, and as a community (hopefully with dev support), we are responsible for doing what we can to encourage those great 10 year old players and discourage the idiots.

  3. So all is not lost. There are some in the “new generation” who know the value of civility.

    You are right. There *are* lots of good people that still play MMOs and while age can be a good predictor of behavior it’s not entirely accurate. The problem is many kids and teens follow the pack mentality and what’s worse is companies like Blizzard sit back and provide relatively little enforcement of community standards.

    Community standards…that’s a phrase you almost never heard in reference to MMOs and virtual worlds but I feel we as members of the community need to speak out when we can either in chat channels, reporting offenders to GMs and lobbying Blizzard to help create a more civilized community.

    As a player I used to spend about 10 minutes a day back on my WoW server submitting petitions on naming violations and chat violations — if Blizzard had proactive enforcement then I would not have had to do that. The problem was that despite the same people violating the rules they seemed to always be back the next day doing it all over again. Eventually they tired you out and you leave every public channel and keep to yourself — a sad indictment on what is supposed to be a community experience.

    At least there are rays of hope amidst the gloom with your example of that 10 year old.



  4. I remember running across an obviously Bot-controlled, level 57 Hunter-Farmer in Winterspring. He would make a beeline for a Yeti, run into a tree, then continue to run into the tree until he’d slid passed it and could continue moving towards his target. I watched him do this numerous times until I was sure it wasn’t someone asleep at the wheel or a young player.

    When I inspected him (easy to do because he tried to Ninja-skin several of my Yetis) he had a simply horrible mixture of green gear, as if he just equipped anything that dropped if it was a higher level than the item it was replacing, regardless of Stats.

    His name was a clear violation of Blizzard’s naming policy, and was just a random assortment of letters, like Myxoplzx, as if the player had thumped the keyboard to generate a name.

    When I checked an old chrono site I knew that used to tell you when a WoW Toon first appeared, and which basically tracked their level progression from that time on, I saw that this toon was less than 1 week old, and within a matter of days had advanced almost 60 levels.

    I reported him for name violation, and in the report stated I also believe he was botting, and why.

    I also added him to my Friend’s List.

    I got an email thanking me for reporting the incident, Blizzard takes all of these incidents very seriously, we will investigate, blah blah blah.

    A day later I saw him online, same name, still in Winterspring, probably still Bot-farming Yetis.

    All it would have taken was 5 minutes observation to verify that he was Bot-farming. Don’t contact the player, just fly over there (GMs can do that) and observe.

    I was actually banned once for a Naming Violation. Fortunately the GM let my friend finish running my Warrior through RFD but literally seconds after we’d downed the last Boss and looted him, the GM messaged me, told me my name was in violation of the naming policy, that he was about to log me out and that I’d be required to rename my Warrior before I could play him again. Sure enough, almost as soon as he’d said this, I got logged out. I clicked my Warrior and there was a message and a rename field, just like the GM said. Lucky I was on Vent with my friend so I could explain to him what had happened. All because I’d called my Warrior “Knuttjob”.

  5. You nutjob, Capn’. :P

    I am surprised by the ignorance of the bot farmer. You’re right, that would seem to be a very easy thing to verify. I’m wondering whether it’s incompetence or overwork that led to him being ignored. Either way, some good HR practices would compensate. It’s not like Blizzard is starving.

  6. I got an email thanking me for reporting the incident, Blizzard takes all of these incidents very seriously, we will investigate, blah blah blah.

    A day later I saw him online, same name, still in Winterspring, probably still Bot-farming Yetis.

    Your story is all too familiar Cap’n. I can’t recall how many times I’ve reported “botters”, naming violations and chat violations only to get the same form email. Then the next day you see the very same people still at large in Azeroth. It’s no wonder that the community is so bad as the responsible players who report them and nothing is done. It’s like we are banging our heads against the wall.

    Customer service is a farce in WoW. They exist simply to brush you off as they prepare to brush of the next subscriber. Perhaps they are on a quota system. Nevertheless, it’s very discouraging to players like ourselves who are doing our part to police our own communities.

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