In-game and out-of-game trolls, are something that gaming has struggled to deal with for a long time, but particularly in recent years. With the advent of Twitter and other social interaction platforms, the lines of communication between developers and players and just between gamers themselves, have been shortened, making for some wonderful conversations but also some horrendous ones too. Be it death threats for CoD patch changes or hate mail just for being female, Sony is quite clear how it aims to deal with such people: permanently ban them from Sony games.
In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, Sony’s head of community relations, Linda Carlson, said that really, these types of people that behave abominably in or out of game, are people it just doesn’t want as customers. “Not only will we ban your forum account, but if it’s serious enough we’ll call up customer service and have you banned from all of our games,” she said.
It doesn’t matter who you are either. Carlson went on to say that Sony doesn’t care if you’re a high ranking player, an important streamer, the leader of a huge guild or who you threaten to take with you: you’ll still get squashed with the ban hammer.
“We can control anybody who’s playing our games…[but] if we know who you are and you’re abusing somebody on Twitter, we will ban your game account and we will not accept you as a customer ever again. It’s not always possible to identify people [in that way], but we take that seriously.”
Sony won’t just ban you for one outbust however, so don’t go thinking it overeacts in these situations. According to Carson, people that tend to draw the attention of its community relations department, tend to have an escalating history of poor behaviour and commentary, something which can be looked back over to determine the direction the individual might be going in. If it’s one that Sony feels is negative for its business and player base, it’ll choose whether or not to continue allowing that person to play games with their current account.
This would operate in much the same way that Microsoft has banned players who leak game information before the release. Like with the “clever” chap that managed to get hold of GTA V pre-release and began posting Vine clips of him playing it – with his screen name clearly in view. That of course means that people can still play offline by themselves, but online play will be blocked.
Carlson did add however, that developers should take note that negative opinions are out there and that they should learn to have a thicker skin if they want to survive in this industry.
“I think what developers do need to do is understand human nature. They need to understand that this is normal. You may not like it, but knowing that is normal will help you deal with it. It’s not just you – it’s everybody, and, yes, they are jerks, but that’s normal,” she said.
“I don’t necessarily like humanity, or the fact that human nature so often trends towards the negative – just because that’s how we’re wired – but understanding that makes this whole field of study very fascinating to me, and I do consider community management to be a field of study. It’s constantly changing, because our online communities are changing.”
KitGuru Says: I respect this move by Sony. It might seem harsh to ban someone for something they do outside of a game, but it’s Sony’s choice who it allows into its expanded world, just as a shop owner can choose who it allows in their shop.
What do you guys think?