Saturday, December 21, 2013

Your Song

Doing it wrong. Or not, depending on your outlook.

So yesterday, I had a bit of an epiphany. I realised the single biggest problem Blizzard (and indeed us) has with it's notion of 'Community': that word that's been thrown about quite a lot since Warlords. You know, the shining example of the people working together to create something wonderful and inspiring that if you scratch or push in certain places will collapse or crumble to reveal a hotbed of sething resentment, unhappiness or self-entitlement? The answer to what the issue has become really is so simple I'm amazed I never worked it out to begin with.

I'm the problem.

Yup, little old me, over here in front of a computer in windy, rainswept South East Essex.

There's a quote for everything. FACT.

Now, the more astute amongst you are now already thinking 'well, if you're the problem Godmother why doesn't Blizzard ban you from the game then?' That's a very good question, actually, because this would have two very useful upshots: it would make me seen to be dealt with, and you'd all then know the problem was solved... ah, but you see, it's not *actually* that easy to make things instantly better, or else Blizzard would have done that years ago. The bigger problem comes with the fact that, at this moment, I'm not actually causing a problem, now am I? I'm just quietly pottering away, bothering nobody. Yesterday however.... oooh, well that's tricky.

The thing about being able to blame someone for something requires stuff called evidence. Blizzard have become smart this year and admitted that they're using algorithms to track player behaviour, which is interesting for two separate reasons: it catches out the players who are clueless to this, but it also allows those that understand they're being watched to react in different ways. That's the problem when you're required to present a measure of fairness in your arbitration: you have to be able to consider both sides of the discussion. Anyway, before I go find a soapbox to stand on, I think you'll find I've detracted slightly from blaming me for all of Blizzard's issues. Sorry about that.

The problem with evidence then becomes accuracy. My husband was able to invalidate a parking notice that he'd got whilst borrowing my car last week (in my name as I'm the car's registered owner) by proving he wasn't illegally parked, despite the Parking Notice stating otherwise. For this he used the technical specs of my car, a tape measure, and Google Earth. His argument was compelling enough that, had the dispute gone to Court, he could have proved the Council was incorrect in its assertion he was parked where he was (Taxi Rank) when in fact he was well away in a designated space. Most people would have paid the fine I suspect, but then principle comes into play: believing you are right is one thing, but proving that can be very difficult indeed without facts. And that's the massive grey area I'm going to go stand in (which is the problem Blizzard often has) where you can't touch me, regardless of what I did either yesterday, today or tomorrow.

This doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me aware that there are rules you can follow, and those you can bend. The problem then comes how Blizzard choose to deal with it.

Is it too much to ask for a quiet life? With added Dwarves?

This Community is made up of individuals. Each one has their own agenda, their own outlooks and their own motivations. Binding them together with common goals is all well and good until someone disagrees on a point of principle: what is a joke, what is important, whose opinion matters, politics, religion, sexual orientation... and all of that has the ability to fluctuate and adapt on a daily basis. I have opinions on many of those points, and as it happens some of those are in flux right now. I am quite susceptible in at least one of those major groups, and that means I may NOT react in the manner you expect would be 'normal.' Gosh yes, I might react to stuff unexpectedly, without a rational explanation. Or I may have a completely sensible and reasonable explanation and simply choose not to share it with the group. You won't know UNLESS YOU ASK ME or I CHOOSE TO TELL YOU, but this is a game. It doesn't affect reality, right up until it moves out of the Client and suddenly appears to gain a significance all of it's own in the real world. And you see, Blizzard can only police the bit of the game they actually own.

And this is why I'm still the problem, and I won't go away. Blizzard can't ban me from outside the game, coz that's real life, and they have no jurisdiction here. They can chose to ignore me, and not include me, but they can't make me go quiet. They can just hope I get bored and wander off, but the problem is I still love their game, and that means I'm a potential marketing opportunity. I also make them money, you know buying all those Vanity Pets and Mounts and the Collector's Editions of the game, so they don't want to exclude me. The upshot of all this is that I'll always be Blizzard's problem, and the Community's, for as long as I choose to be involved, until I do something so bad that it either gets me banned or arrested in Real Life.

However, being the mean, sly and undoubtedly brilliant criminal mastermind that I am, you won't catch me that easily...

Bollocks. Well, that's torn it.

This is probably the biggest issue the gaming 'community' needs to deal with, as indeed does everyone else who spends time online. Me, you, and every other person who may on any given day, for a quite unique and separate set of reasons decide they're not happy, and react, often in a completely different matter to how you would if standing in front of a real person. Anonymity breeds contempt, confidence, and all points in between. Lines get crossed, sensibilities are squashed, people are offended. Life inevitably goes on, and because most people are capable, rational adults you simply chalk down the issues to experience and move on. However, for our kids, who are growing up in a world where for many the Net is a dangerously large component of their lives... this is a time bomb. That's why I'm the problem in Blizzard's community: I won't let other people get away with treating me like dirt because they don't know me. I will react and police and stand up for my place here, and I will remember those who think that they can act as they please here without consequence. This is a part of not just my future, but my children's, and as a result, it's my business to be involved.

There are always consequences, by the way. Karma's really going to get you. It always does.

I continue to understand I'm a problem because when I stand by a principle, or an understanding I'm confident in, there's a good chance I'm going to upset someone. I'm not a great one with words and immediacy, that's why my Podcast is scripted. In the heat of the moment, this year, people have been offended by me, and on reflection this has often been for a very good reason. I choose to deliberately remember these moments and then, over time I consider if I could have done things better. Often I think I could, but an apology at that point is only really of value if the person cares... and you never know. Not unless you take the time to get to know people first, and for many in this Community, those relationships deliberately only go so far. This narrow-mindedness doesn't extend to younger generations: the world is their oyster, everyone's a potential friend. That's the way it should be too, not restricting yourself to a narrow-minded outlook. Knowing everyone really well also has disadvantages, after all. Being part of an online 'family' is, by it's very definition, going to require some work to maintain harmony. Family has a habit of not behaving too.

Selling the dysfunctional dream since 1987

The only way to ensure no-one gets hurt is, of course, to not play.

To those people I've upset this year: you know who you are, and I doubt you're even here, because that is the nature of life and the worryingly instantaneous nature of current communication. I'm sorry you didn't like what I saw, or concluded by my PC, or decided to talk about or comment on, but I did all of those things for very good reasons. I wasn't deliberately aiming to offend or upset anyone, I certainly wasn't putting words in anyone's mouths, forgetting kindness that had been done or deciding people were worthy of ridicule. The fact I retain all this information is only my problem to deal with, but everyone's to consider. The Community's diversity will only increase in the coming months as more new people buy the game cheap and start playing (yes it is happening) and how you welcome newcomers, if at all, is absolutely vital. The ruling Houses of Power in this Community know who they are, and have an important part to play in maintaining the sanctity of the entire structure. I hope that responsibility continues to be taken seriously for many years to come.

As long as you keep me chained up here in the basement, you're golden.


Grimmtooth said...

This recent emergence of attacks upon "the community" in the Blogospheric Echo Chamber is about as significant as any other trending topic in the WoW blogosphere; give it a few weeks and it'll burn out.

Maybe that's what the erstwhile "Mr. R" was on about. If so, his wording was deliberately provocative, and nothing more. A better and less inflammatory way to say it would be "self-reinforcing feedback mechanism." But, whatevs, thesaurus-wielding layabouts must make use of it to get the tax write-off, I suppose.

Anyhoozies, right now I think most of the grumping is coming from people that feel somehow that this "community" excludes them in some way, and thus feel obligated to attack it.

Truth is, similar to your alleged "crimes" against WoW, the "community" doesn't exist. Or, more precisely, neither exists on its own. They require context and participation to define, and at that precise moment the device in question becomes real. Look away, and it vanishes. Neat trick.

MY community, for example, does not include all the people that YOURS does. There are certain long-running bloggers that I gave up on long ago, for example. there are likely those that I read that you don't. I don't do forums, maybe you do. Is the "community" defined by participation in the forums? MMO-C? Google Groups? Reddit? Twitter? There is a giant pile of external devices that we can affix to that term "community", that alters its meaning from person to person.

The one thing that the cynics often latch on to is the echo chamber effect, in which one topic will bounce around from venue to venue. A topic may heat up on the fora, bounce over to MeFi, hit a few blogs, get picked up by WoW Insider (Incest! Egads!), then spread out to more blogs, usually because as bloggers we all have opinions and wish to share them. The cynics will put a negative spin on something that is fairly normal because they feel excluded in some way - maybe the tide of opinion is going a direction they don't like, who knows? Either way, I suspect there's an agenda being served.

But, like your alleged "crimes", it's all a matter of where you are standing at the time.

Grimmtooth said...

Crap, forgot to check the email box. Ignore this comment, it is a mere figment! Or fragment!

Matty said...

I am always so confused after reading some of these posts. I must get glasses and drink more coffee. So you're saying you're a troll? What? You left your mount on a holiday NPC and went AFK? What horrible things have you done? LOL
…trots off to get coffee….

Tome of the Ancient said...

I know Matty, I can't figure out what The Godmother has done either unless she was the one standing on the quest giver for the daily.

The Godmother said...

@Matty & Tome:


Matty said...

You did troll me! You explained an allegory to me! lol