Not so friendly

My 8 year old son is relatively computer literate. He can certainly run rings around my wife in that regard.

One of the golden rules in our house is that he is not allow – under any circumstance, to play an online game where he can chat or read the chat of other players.

This annoys him because quite a number of his friends are already given free rein to certain games like that.

The other day I caught him joining a public Minecraft server (that a couple of his friends regularly use). He hasn’t seen his laptop for a week, and is stuck waiting for me to find some time to change the parental control software on it.

I don’t allow him to join the online gaming community because there are frankly too many unsavory people that I don’t want him to interact with.

Bullies, sociopaths, trolls, griefers, and a small group of horrifying predators that are all actively out there hunting targets.

I certainly understand these groups are in the minority, but there are more of them online than you would meet day to day, and their behaviour is more extreme. I presume they are emboldened by the lack of obvious social constraints and the feeling of safety they get hiding behind a computer screen. Oddly enough they make each other worse – supporting and encouraging their endeavours and even trying to outdo each other.

Whatever it is, it is not in the slightest bit appropriate for my son to be exposed to them.

I know however it isn’t something that I will be able to protect him from forever. What I need to do is work on limiting the power this sort of person can have over my son. I need to educate him so that he understands the behaviour exists, and how best to deal with it. I need to ensure he feels he can communicate openly with his parents about it. I need to work at his resilience against the damage it can cause. I need to show good examples in how I handle it. I need to make damn sure he knows if he ever partook in or supported that sort of behaviour in any way that the consequences would be dire.

That is all easier said than done – but it is the goal I need to strive for.

I expect as I start to give my son more freedoms online that I will be playing the more interactive games with him, so I can monitor and guide him.

I will have different expectations of the games and communities he will be exposed to. Those aimed at children I would expect to be stringently moderated with prompt and decisive responses to any poor behaviour. As the target audience gets older I would expect less and less of this.

And of course this brings me to CCP, and the topic earthquake Jester released early this week:

I think the simplest and most honest description of this particular case is cruelty. I find the concept of such behaviour abhorrent, and I have nothing but scorn for people who would perpetrate and find amusement in it.

What do I expect of CCP when it comes to handling cruel behaviour by players against other players?

When it happens within the confines of the mechanics of the game, I don’t expect CCP to do anything. By that I mean if someone wanted to camp me in my home station 24×7, take my POCO, and gank me every time I try to undock, I would not expect CPP to help me.

(It would be nice if there was some process where newer players were afforded extra protection, but I am not sure how that would be implemented.)

But what happens when the behaviour moves out of the game mechanics? When it becomes stock standard bullying? Where the results are for their own sadistic pleasure and not some verifiable in game goal?

What I want from CCP are clear guidelines about what is considered unacceptable harassment, a mechanism for reporting it, and a structured process by where perpetrators can be banned for no other reason than CCP not wanting to be complicit in allowing their game to be used as mechanism to inflict real life misery.

To be honest I have no idea if CCP have that in place already or not. If they do, their answer to this furor should just be a simple link to the procedure.

So CCP – you are not responsible for policing the lives and personalities of your players, but how are you going to react when an example like this is thrown out there? When my son gets old enough to play EVE, will I allow him to, or will I think I’d be a bad parent if I did?


EDIT 29.03.2014

Here’s CCP’s official response –

I guess we will hear about the consequence indirectly.

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