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Dear Blizzard: Am I your police officer?

I think Xxleetdudexx assumed that RP stood for real pwnage. Dear Blizzard,

First of all, I really do have to thank you for changing the name of that guy called Longjohnson. Yeah, He sent us this pretty long rant about how it was unfair his name was changed, but honestly, it was a pretty clear violation of the naming policy against inappropriate references to bodily parts or functions (Sorry Jason, I'm only siding with you to a point here. Your character's name needed to be changed). That said, I'll give him this: It is pretty annoying that he was able to then proceed to the Armory and find 19 characters named Longjohnson and 60 characters named Bigjohnson. If a name is impermissible because of being profane or inappropriate on one server, it should count on them all, right? Every server has the same set of naming rules, except for RP servers, which have the extra "appropriate for an RP server" qualifier, so this shouldn't be a problem. Mike has actually observed that enforcement tends to be a bit lax in the past regarding both the naming policy and RP server policy, but I figured it was worth bringing up again.

Anyway, so when Jason complained to you, you told him, "player names are investigated as they are reported in-game only. If you see a name in-game that you feel is inappropriate, please feel free to submit an in-game ticket, and the situation will be looked into and addressed accordingly." That means that in order to get these names changed, he, or someone who felt the name was inappropriate, would have to log on to about 60 separate servers and put in individual tickets on each server, and hope the GM didn't just dismiss it coming from a level 1 character or decide that the name was legitimate on that server. But the main point being that someone who is not a paid employee of Blizzard Entertainment would have to do the legwork to get all this sorted out.

So basically, what you're telling me is that you're expecting your player base to police stuff for you. I guess I should expect that, you're already using my computer as a download server, after all. I'm sure it's true that it's pretty difficult to police 10 million people across multiple servers without hiring tons more GMs and inflating subscription prices and all. I can buy that. Still, if you're going to hand me a badge and a nightstick and make me cut into my play time to make sure other people are following the rules, the least you can do is give me some more tools to do it with. So I'm going to break it down for you. There's a few ways you can make things easier on us and get rid of all these policy-breaking names quicker and easier.

First things first, we need to address the above problem with the multiple Longjohnson and Bigjohnson names. Like I said before, I think it should be pretty obvious that, in general, if a name is bad on one server, it's bad on every one of them (The special RP server rule being the exception. In that case, if a name is bad on one RP Server, it's bad on all RP Servers). Therefore, if a GM specifically makes a name change because of a violation of the naming policy, that name change should automatically be enforced on all applicable servers. If that means a GM needs to go load up the armory and enter the name manually, check which servers the characters appear on, and go change them, so be it. If a player can do it, I'm sure a paid Blizzard Employee can do it.

Okay, the next thing is the whole reporting angle. It's sort of annoying on two fronts. The first is figuring out how to report a bad name. Not only do you have to find the "?" button and the "open a ticket" button on the Interface, but then you have to figure out what to file the complaint under. There's actually no category specifically for Naming Policy or RP Server violations. I generally end up going with Verbal Harassment, it makes the most sense, but even the subheadings and examples of Verbal Harassment don't mention anything about names and the like. When I suggest a person report a name, many of them express confusion over this, so I figure it's something that could be clearer. In fact, I'd like to see a basic report be right-clickable from a character portrait or a name in the chat box. You right click, choose the option, then choose one of the headings, like "OOC in say" for an RP server violation, or "reference to sexual orientation" for a naming violation. Then give me a chance to type a message with any additional information so I can explain why I believe this is a violation, and let me send it. It'd make the process quicker, easier, and more intuitive.

The other part of the whole reporting angle is talking a GM. I feel almost guilty going into this, because the GMs are usually nice people. They put up with a lot. That said, It gets harder and harder to actually report violations of policy because the report process is so annoying. I can do it in my sleep, but it's annoying. GM says, "hello, how are you?" I say, "fine, thanks." The GM says, "are you busy?" I say "no." In fact, I generally say "no" even if I am actually trying to juggle healing a Karazhan PuG with cooking dinner and finishing my taxes, because really, if I say yes, I'm sort of afraid they'll, like, ignore my petition or something and then Sexydrizztx will never get his name changed, or they'll cry because they totally interrupted my awesome gaming experience. Then they say "we are sorry for inconvenience this has caused you, I will look into it and take the appropriate actions, but you don't get to know what goes down because of privacy issues and stuff." Then I'm like, "OK, thanks dude." Then they're like, "is there anything else I can do for you?" Then I'm like, "nah, I'm cool." Then they're like, "have a adventuriffic splendiferous day at Azerothland!" Then I'm like, "uh, yeah, you too, chief." And then they're all like, "hey, here's the feedback email in case I sucked." And I'm like, "OK." And then they're like, "you do not have an open ticket with this GM. If you wish to speak with a GM, please open a ticket." It pretty much alwats goes like that more or less.

Anyway, my POINT there is that it's a lot to go through just to let the GMs know that someone was being either ignorant or immature when they chose their name or chose to roll on an RP server without planning to honor the special rules of said server. I'm sure the GMs are about as tired of pressing the correct macros to say their lines as I am of answering them. Not that I HATE you, GMs, most of you are cool. Seriously, I would totally fist pound you if we met up at Blizzcon or something. But, you know, I know the drill, and I know that you'll do your thing, and I may never know what went down or if the dude ever got a name change or a suspension or a stern talking to or whatever. So, honestly, for "minor" stuff like a name change policy violation, just have the system file the ticket for review and let that be the end of it. You don't have to send me a tell while I'm in the kitchen making a sandwich, thus making me feel guilty when I come back to the computer and see that you sent me a tell like 5 times, and now there's that lonely little "we are so sorry we could not contact you while you were online" message in my mailbox. Just skip the tell and send me an in-game mail or an email that lets me know that the ticket got through and you'll review the name or alleged policy violation and take the proper steps. I think it'd really make things easier on both of us.

Okay, one more slight, slight picking on the GMs issue. Seriously, guys, if any of you reading this are GMs, forgive me. Like I said, I'd totally be handing out the fist pounds at Blizzcon. This is more of a critique of the guys who are training you. But anyway, you could use with a bit more training, I think, just to make sure you all are on message and understand that there ARE slightly different rules for certain violations on an RP Server, such as the fact that a name has to make sense from an in-game standpoint. That means if it's incredibly hard to imagine someone's parents would actually give them a certain name, it MIGHT be an RP server naming policy violation. It's sometimes annoying to me to have reported what seems to me to be a pretty blatant name only to see the guy running around with the same name a week later. I'd just like to make sure you guys actually realize what the naming policy means. It's all about that consistency, you know?

This problem also pops up with the RP Server policy. Sometimes I honestly think that some of your GMs don't quite get the difference between an RP server and other servers. When I see the same people coming up yelling "lol arpee" at me and my buds while we're chilling in Stormwind being in character time after time, and repeated petitions don't lead to anything happening, I get discouraged. When I report someone and get them yelling at me in tells 10 minutes after the ticket's closed because a GM just talked to them about "stupid roleplaying" and how I'm a stupid busybody and they hate RP and only came here because of friends... Well, I wonder why a more severe punishment wasn't in order. But my point is, sometimes I get the idea that you don't really emphasize the rules quite enough. There should be a little more erring on the side of bringing down the hammer in punishing RP violations and naming violations, at the least.

Oh, and make sure everyone understands that these rules apply to guild and arena team names, in addition to character names, by the by.

There's one last thing I'd like to see, then I'll let you go: How about some disclaimers? Yes, I know we all read the EULA every time a new patch comes in, but I'd like to see some additional basic rules flashed up on the screen at some points. I generally believe people are mostly good folks, and there's probably a lot of people with non-kosher names or who don't RP on RP Servers who didn't mean to be jerks, per se, but didn't quite understand the rules when they rolled their character. So I'd like to give those type of folks a chance to understand what they're getting themselves into. Before creating a character, people should have to read a pop-up that describes the naming policy, even if it's just a copy paste from the support website. Before creating a character on an RP Server, people would have to read a pop-up that explains the special rules for an RP server. It's simple and clean, and it gives people a chance to understand what they're getting into, and how RP servers are different from normal PvE and PvP servers. It might also save you a few tickets in the long run.

But seriously guys. I love the game. I think you generally do a great job. Hell, you even rolled back the Warlock Life Tap nerf, and I will so totally be fist pounding you for that come Blizzcon. But I just figure that you could do a little bit better at enforcing some of your in-game behavior policies, and if you can't or won't hire the GMs to kick that into high gear, at least make it easier for me to do it for you. If you're leaving it up to me and my fellow players to make our servers a fun, clean, and (In the case of RP servers) In character place to be, let's make it easier on all of us.

Sincerely,

Daniel W.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard

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