Enforcement [was Re: [MUD-Dev] Striving for originality]

Tess Snider malkin at terpalum.umd.edu
Wed Jun 12 14:30:55 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On Wed, 12 Jun 2002, Matt Chatterley wrote:

> Admin enforced rules are all well and good, but adding stress and
> grief to often overloaded administrators who work on a project in
> their (often fleeting) spare time can be bad.. and player
> councils?  Do they work?

I was an admin on a game that treated enforcement and bannings as
strictly admin business.  It actually wasn't as bad as one might
think, since most cases are pretty cut-and-dry, and involve people
who have no investment and aren't really integrated into the
community yet.  Some people were so problematic so quickly that they
were locked out of the game before their cases even made it to any
kind of administrative vote.

What *was* stressful was the rare cases when we had to consider
acting against long-time members of the community.  That's the kind
of thing that can really burn an administrator out.  These aren't
anonymous 12-year-olds who dropped by for a day to annoy people.
These are people who have invested years in the game, have made a
lot of friends there, and have sometimes even shaped the very game,
itself.  However, while this may be hard on the administrators, I
can't help but feel that the idea of brushing this responsibility
off on a player tribunal seems somewhat cowardly to me.  This isn't
the real world, and games are not democracies (nor, I might argue,
should they be).  Your players are there to play a game and have fun
-- not to put their friends on trial, and possibly even be
responsible for their metaphorical execution.  As administrators, we
have to be willing to play the bad guy sometimes, so our players
don't have to.

Yes, I hear someone out there already typing their letter,
championing the game community's right to set standards, and decide
who is part of their society and who isn't, etc. etc.  Before you
send that letter, though, consider that the player community has
already taken action and expressed that their standards have been
violated by lodging complaints against the problem players.  Your
playerbase has plenty of teeth, even if you don't put the axe
directly in their hands.  (And if you aren't giving them enough,
they won't hesitate to tell you.)  Moreover, I have to ask, have you
ever had to ban a good friend?  And if you have, is that really a
feeling you want to share with your players?

Personally, I think there are better ways to empower your community,
and keep them interested.  I'm a big fan of involving them in
decisions that will have a positive outcome (such as rewarding good
players or voting for new features), because that's something
they'll feel good about.

Tess Snider

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