A new survey conducted in the virtual teen hangout Habbo (formerly Habbo Hotel) for anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label concludes that cyberbullying affects more young people than first thought. More than two-thirds of people ages 13- 22 have been bullied online, with both males and females equally affected, according to Ditch the Label. One in five of the 10,008 who responded to the survey said that the abuse they encountered had been "extreme" in nature. Many said that it happened on a daily basis too.
As reported by Polygon, Sony Online Entertainment's director of global community relations, Linda "Brasse" Carlson, gave an interesting talk about balancing developer relations with its various online communities, while tamping down abusive behavior by users. Carlson detailed the process the company uses to handle all these different issues during a presentation at GDC Europe 2013 today.
On this week's show we talk about extreme developer harassment, GameStop's Xenoblade pricing, EA's Humble Origin Bundle, the latest poll from GamePolitics, and a whole lot more. Download Episode 65 now: SuperPAC Episode 65 (1 hour, 15 minutes) 69.3 MB.
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) revealed that it plans to start a number of support groups for developers who have found themselves on the business end of harassment and threats of violence by angry gamers on a regular basis. The news was revealed as part of Polygon's report on online harassment and threats that are frequently leveled against game developers.
Does an abusive and abrasive community scare away game development talent? That depends on how far individuals in such a community are willing to go in order to express their disdain for what a game developer is doing. When members of a community think that it is acceptable to wish death or a sexual assault on someone, it has a very real affect on game developers - or anyone else in the public eye.
Yesterday Microsoft took the wraps off two new initiatives for Xbox Live that - it hopes - will make it a better community to be in. One is called One is Enforcement United, which lets XBL subscribers weigh in on if particular content violates Microsoft’s terms of service. The second is Xbox Community Level, which lets players "gain levels" and earn prizes by making positive contributions to Xbox Live.
BioShock Infinite developer Ken Levine says that the abuse directed at Call of Duty's David Vonderhaar and Fez developer Phil Fish over the last week has made him sad. Speaking to Eurogamer, Levine explained how he deals with abuse from fans and what he thought about how Phil Fish handled the situation with Marcus Beer from GameTrailers earlier in the week.
Apparently it is just fine and dandy with Twitter if you threaten to rape someone on its service. Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian receives her fair share of vile threats on Twitter on a regular basis, but when she reports them to Twitter it doesn't seem to do anything about them. On her Twitter feed yesterday she noted that she reported several threatening tweets to Twitter and was awaiting a response. Today she received that response, which was a big surprise to anyone who read the example tweet she posted.
Papo & Yo developer Minority Media took the wraps off the next project it is working on - a game about bullying. The game is called the Silent Enemy, and explores the topic of bullying and what people who see bulling tend to do (not get involved). According to a promo video for the game, it will feature an "Aboriginal character" who embarks on a quest to find springtime in Northern Quebec. During that quest the protagonist will be bullied by crow-like creatures that hinders his quest.
GameSpot reports that Riot Games has issued bans to three European Team Solo Mebdi players for what they describe as widespread in-game verbal abuse. Riot Games has issued a lifetime ban for professional League of Legends player Khaled Abusagr of Team Solo Mebdi. Riot said that he engaged in a consistent pattern of in-game verbal abuse, racism, anti-Semitism, and threatening behavior.
According to this Reddit thread the top Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Xbox Live player in the country has reset his stats after a continual barrage of DDoS and personal attacks from people being categorized as "jealous players." The player, who plays online under the name "Retrominano," decided that it was easier to just reset his rankings in the game than to deal with the onslaught of personal attacks and attacks on his connection.
A war of words between Gawker Media and the Reddit community might make for some marvelous online drama, but it doesn't sit well with Wishan Wong, chief executive of Reddit. An internal memo obtained by Gawker and attributed Wong, reveals that Reddit's CEO thinks free speech is paramount to the community but that the ban on Gawker links is not a good idea.
Microsoft is "working toward improvements" to community moderation on Xbox Live, according to a report on Polygon. The company is working towards more robust automated moderation tools, including algorithms that can reportedly detect repeat offenders and mute them automatically.
Gamers Against Bigotry, a site that asked gamers to take a pledge promising not to use bigoted language while playing games online, announced that it has lost 1500 signatures due to repeated attacks from hackers. The site has faced some tough challenges from months of repeated attacks from hackers who have done everything from posting "grotesque images" on the website's signatures page, to making it impossible for new visitors to sign on to the pledge.
A New York State Assemblymen wants to fight cyberbullying and “baseless political attacks" with a new bill that would ban anonymous web posts. The bill would make it so that all New York-based websites have to "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post," according to Wired's Threat Level.
The latest episode of the ultra popular web show Extra Credits (Season 4, Ep. 11) tackles the very thorny issue of online harassment in games. Anyone that has played a game online via their PC, Xbox 360, PS3, etc., has run into some (basically) anonymous individual who seems to have no control over what they say. They call you every name in the book for little or no reason. This episode of the show explores what can be done about it and why some of the usual excuses for allowing such behavior no longer work.
A new bipartisan bill wants to combat online bullying but is so poorly defined in its wording that it goes too far, according to some critics. The legislation is co-sponsored by Arizona State Reps. Ted Vogt and Vic Williams, both Republicans representing Tucson, along with strong support from House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix), Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley (D-Tucson) and Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson).
Alexander Gianturco, the EVE Online player who mocked a suicidal player during a live stream of a panel at the EVE Online FanFest last week, announced that he is resigning as the head of the player-run, in-game government (thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip). Gianturco was the Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management (CSM).
An elected representative of the EVE Online community strongly apologizes for his comments and actions during a live feed of the EVE Online FanFest event that took place last week. CCP Games said earlier in the week that it was appalled at the comments made by member of the EVE Online community and that it would launch an investigation.
With the Bully Project being released in theaters this Friday, it seems ironic that we would be reporting on people mocking another player who is "suicidal" and encouraging other people to do the same in the hope that the individual would "do it." This is the same kind of behavior highlighted in the aforementioned documentary. But instead of happening in a game it happened at school to an 11-year-old boy. He ended up listening to his school mates.
California has launched a new eCrime unit to combat various online crimes. The new law enforcement unit created by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and announced Tuesday, aims take on various "cyber crimes" such as email scams, online fraud, piracy, child pornography, and real-world theft of computer gear by organized crime.
"Today's criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," Harris said while unveiling the unit in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.
Kotaku gets the scoop on what could be the future of dealing with obnoxious people in online games. A new report from Kotaku looks into Riot Games' new justice system for League of Legends, which is going to be run by the player community. They are calling it citizen justice, and if it works, we could see a new standard in dealing with problematic players who go out of their way to ruin the online gaming experience for others.
Starting sometime in the next few months, the creators of League of Legends plan to implement the Tribunal System, which will be staffed by players.
"This is innovation that was bred from necessity," Steve 'Pendragon' Mescon of Riot Games told Kotaku in a phone interview.
If you haven't been living under a rock, you've probably heard about "Jessi Slaughter", a.k.a. "Kerligirl13", and her controversial attention-seeking videos on Youtube and other video sharing sites. Now, it's nothing new for kids to act like fools on Youtube. But Jessie took her videos just a bit too far, and the Internet struck back.
After becoming something of an internet meme for posting threats like "I'll pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushie" she aroused the unstoppable ire of /b/, which began a campaign of trolling her videos. And so it began, with /b/ posting her personal information, and bombing search engine results to make things like "Did Jessi Slaughter's dad give her PCP?" a trending topic. You know, the usual stuff.
Taking Xbox Live smack talk to another level, a Hamden, Connecticut man has been arrested for using the online service to threaten a witness.
23-year old Anthony Hayward was arrested in New Haven last year for allegedly having drugs and a stolen gun in his car, reports the Hartford Courant. Freed after posting $75,000 bail, Hayward logged into his Xbox Live account last December in order to type threats to someone that is apparently a witness in Hayward’s drug/gun case.
The witness received a message that said “Rats Die Slow,” and Hayward also referred to the person as a “dead man walking.”
For these threats, Hayward was charged with harassment, intimidating a witness and tampering with a witness. He was arraigned on Tuesday in Milford Superior Court and held on $50,000 bail.
As part of its reporting on trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, the Australian Government’s Institute of Criminology has issued a research paper that takes a look at transgressions that occur in virtual worlds.
Crime Risks of Three-Dimensional Virtual Environments was written by Ian Warren and Darren Palmer and kicks off with a mention of what may have been the first case of its kind—the “rape” of an avatar in the text-based game LambdaMoo. The incident resulted in a Village Voice piece on the incident, and eventually a book, and brought the issue of crime in virtual worlds to light.
A similar incident took place in Second Life in 2007 and actually caused Belgian police to patrol the online community to prevent rapes.
While virtual crimes such as money laundering or fraud can usually be handled by real-world laws, the grey area of harassment-type assaults online seems to continually confound authorities.
A few thoughts put forth by the paper:
The question of whether real-world notions of interpersonal harm apply to virtual assault or sexual assault is unresolved. This complicates the question of regulation within virtual worlds.
While civil redress for psychological harm is conceivable, the 'disembodied' character of such an incident would invariably bar liability for any crime against the person.
The paper notes that under Australian federal criminal law, a maximum penalty of three years could be levied on someone who menaces, harasses or causes offense to another user, though whether this law has ever been applied to virtual worlds is unclear.
Thanks to multinational users, jurisdictional uncertainties and technology that continues to evolve, “there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the role of criminal law in these multi-user categories.” The paper suggests that, “Formal criminal intervention would only have a place if an appreciable and measurable effect on the real-world victim could be established.”
Since so much is unknown or untested about this subject as of yet, the paper suggest research directions for the future, which include “enhancing our understanding of the nature of harm within multi-user 3dve (three-dimensional virtual environments) platforms,” and more collaborative research on how to protect children in virtual worlds.
The report concludes:
Clearly, Australian 3dve users require more knowledge to identify, manage and prevent harm. Developing a systematic approach to harmonise current knowledge on these emerging issues is perhaps the greatest research priority.
Jack Thompson has been making waves this week, riding a lawsuit against Facebook back into the mainstream media.
Thompson’s multi-million dollar lawsuit against Facebook is based on the disbarred lawyer’s findings, “nearly five weeks ago,” of “Jack Thompson Groups” spread across the social networking site, which he claims advocate violence and harassment against him. Thompson stated that, at the time, three different letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not result in the removal of these groups, which, in light of the company’s quick removal of “Should Barack Obama Be Killed” polls, only served to further incense Thompson.
Bloomberg and the Huffington Post are among the mainstream media outlets to pick up Jack’s suit, which he announced in an email on Tuesday, September 29. In the dispatch he labeled videogame “news sites,” including GamePolitics specifically, as “terror sites.”
An email from Thompson sent this morning, under the headline “Instant Confirmation from Around the Globe that Jack Thompson’s Suit against Facebook Is a Winner,” trumpets coverage of the case on both “reputable” news and videogame websites as proof of “not only why the lawsuit had to be brought but why it will succeed.”
GP: Frankly, Thompson crowing victory as a result of the widespread coverage he received is among the reasons we didn’t report on the story as it developed. Is he still relevant to the gaming industry? It’s this editor’s opinion that he is not, at least when dealing in generalities. For now, as a way to move forward with this subject, GP will simply qualify coverage of any Jack story on a case-by-case basis. What do the GP readers think?
A South Korean academic's campaign to encourage friendly online communications has spread to China.
Writing for China Daily, Professor Min Byoung-chul of Korea's Chung Ang University describes some of the issues which led him to create the Sunfull Movement in May of 2007. Sunfull translates to "good replies."
Min ranks violent video games among the causes of negative online behavior and asserts that adolescents who have been exposed to violence are the "main culprits of negative comments":
With one of the world's lowest birth rates, there are more one child families in S.Korea than before, and children are becoming incapable of communicating with others.
The development of the gaming industry has created an addiction for these lonely children. Most games focus on stimulating plots like violence and murder rather than on educational methods for their humanity. Therefore, teenage gamers became familiar with instant killing in these games. Some of them confuse the real world with violent games and this confusion leads to replicating violent actions and criminal behavior in the real world.
In this regard, adolescents who have accessed obscenity and violence on the web easily become offensive and thoughtless rather than considerate to the people they encounter in the Internet. They are the main culprits of negative comments.
This phenomenon is in line with the rise of virtual violence, which includes mobile phone bullying and strange murders without motives.