Author Topic: Player Harassment and Creation of a Toxic Atmosphere  (Read 12330 times)

Dante Silverfire

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That being said I'd have liked to see TH send an OOC letter stating that he felt the situation was becoming personal and would appreciate people backing off a little before filing a magistrates case as this situation could easily be avoided.

The reason I didn't do this is because in the course of the past month, this very same request was made by three different people in the League for overstepping bounds prior to me even logging on to read the letters. As they were heavily tinted against me, and another had already brought up issue with it, I felt it was best to stay silent. Every time I even bring up something along those lines, I am shot down for making stuff up just to cause problems.

The argument that they aren't insulting a player rather than a character is flimsy at best. They plainly make fun of the realm's name in an OOC nature, which makes things much more personal. Besides, a realm's name is made by the player who creates it, and so making fun of it is personally attacking him, not the character. By the way Sacha, every one of those messages provided in the evidence post is OOC besides one or two, so that's not "the game". That's OOC.

Sacha, I agree that the case appears weak, but I ask that the duration of this problem be given some thought. This is far from a new problem. Several players have expressed discomfort at the "jests" over the past months (if not years), yet nothing has changed. Those implicated (on both sides) have been playing for years; they know where the line is and have decided to walk right along it. This case will decide whether or not we want to encourage testing the boundaries or make everyone take a step back again. The Magistrates on this case are essentially deciding the difference between "laughing with you" and "laughing at you"... will barely hiding the behavior be consistently good enough to escape punishment?

All I can say is that when playing on Atamara, primarily in the League over the past *years* it just feels toxic. I really have no other way to describe it. If you don't fall in line and do everything that you are told to do, you are brutally attacked by every method possible by many leading parties until you get in line. These letters are just the evidence I have from this past month. The players involved, know how to walk the line of what is acceptable, just so that they don't get punished. These are players who have played the game for years. They know the rules, they know how to say just the right thing so that while it has the intended effect, they can't get punished for it. Letters like the ones sent by Jason Elegant, listed above, while they hold the "IC" tag are far from IC in tone. They are written like a baby throwing a temper tantrum. A noble would never write that, and it isn't even addressed to a character, so it is quite reasonable to assume it is targeting the player.

The entire point of the social contract is to ensure that the game remains fun for everyone to play. The standard of determination here is "Clear and Obvious." Is it clear and obvious that the players involved were targeting my character? I think that is very hard to defend when you consider most of these letters are OOC in nature. This doesn't have to be clear and obviously a player attack to be guilty, it just has to be clear and obviously NOT a player attack to be not-guilty.

You want to look at a reason why player retention is low? It's because the social contract is eroding and not being defended. We have slowly started to allow more and more things to be seen as "okay" because it isn't a blatantly obvious: "That player is a dick." You are never going to get something like that. People know the rules, so they walk the borderline intentionally because it helps them better "win" battlemaster.
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Dante Silverfire

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I may sound calm, but I am actually quite angry at TH right now. What the heck man. I thought you were my friend.

Being a friend isn't going to stop me from reporting someone. If I think someone did something wrong, I'm going to call them on it whether they are my friend or enemy. That's what is good for the game.

I'm not saying you did something wrong here, I'm saying I think you probably did something wrong here. It's for the Magistrates to decide.
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Sacha

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There's always been OOC arguing. You should've seen some of the insults flying back and forth on Atamara 7-8 years ago during the war between Eston and Norland. Compared to that, this is nothing. And I don't care how toxic you think the League may be, anything said IC should not be taken OOC. If you feel personally insulted when your realm or character is being slandered IC, then you need to take a step back and remind yourself that you're playing a bunch of medieval nobles with long-standing rivalries and very opposite interests.

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This doesn't have to be clear and obviously a player attack to be guilty, it just has to be clear and obviously NOT a player attack to be not-guilty.

I'd like the other Magistrates to correct me if I'm wrong, but this is NOT how cases are decided. This is NOT 'guilty until proven innocent' justice. That would set a very bad precedent and kick the door wide open for endless frivolous accusations.

Dante Silverfire

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And I don't care how toxic you think the League may be, anything said IC should not be taken OOC.

If I can put an IC letterhead on a letter that explicitly is targeted at a player, and have no punishment done to me, then there is a serious problem with this game.

I'd like the other Magistrates to correct me if I'm wrong, but this is NOT how cases are decided. This is NOT 'guilty until proven innocent' justice. That would set a very bad precedent and kick the door wide open for endless frivolous accusations.

This is NOT guilty until proven innocent. What it IS, is actually using the standard that the social contract TELLS YOU to use. If you aren't judging social contract cases in the fair play cause by that standard, then I humbly submit that the Magistrates have been doing it WRONG for a long time.

Everythign in the social contract says that players must err on the side of caution. Not, "walk the borderline." but err on the side of caution. Make it "Clear and Obvious" that no harm is intended.

Stating OOCly that my character is evil, is not erring on the side of caution. Stating oocly, that *I* the person should never be given power in real life is not erring on the side of caution.

Should all members listed be given a punishment? No. But, completely throwing out this case is absurd and would mean the death of the social contract as we know it.
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Dante Silverfire

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I thought this line of Anaris's from the other case was particularly relevant:

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"The truth is, a dozen multicheaters do far less damage to the game than one person who believes that spreading poisonous rumours and lies about people IC and OOC is an acceptable way to win a war."

Is this even remotely as bad as the rumours spread in the other case? No. But it is no less damaging. From my POV, the players contributing most to this are trying to win a war by spreading rumours and lies about my character and myself through both IC and OOC methods in order to win a war.

If that is acceptable, then fine, but then I know exactly why everyone is leaving the game. How is that a fun environment to play in?
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Eirikr

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These allegations are so frivolous that they are not worth responding to. However, out of respect for both TH and Sean, I will say something in my defense:

Thanks. I realized I sounded harsher than intended in my description, but I'm trying to give a full account of how it looked to me and what set off my alarms. I was a little confused why you were listed second; I discounted the realm name stuff back when it was said IG. The other bits felt like you were shoveling it on TH and how he played Merlin; from a third-party view (which would consist of most of the League of the Eagle), it reads as though TH is solely responsible for the situation. I guess this is a lesson to us both that text does not convey tone well.

GoldPanda

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All I can say is that when playing on Atamara, primarily in the League over the past *years* it just feels toxic. I really have no other way to describe it. If you don't fall in line and do everything that you are told to do, you are brutally attacked by every method possible by many leading parties until you get in line.

It's a cabal of nobles... What did you expect? And what does this have to do with anything?

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These letters are just the evidence I have from this past month. The players involved, know how to walk the line of what is acceptable, just so that they don't get punished. These are players who have played the game for years. They know the rules, they know how to say just the right thing so that while it has the intended effect, they can't get punished for it.

So we're not breaking any rules... And you want the Magistrates to punish us anyway? Why?

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The entire point of the social contract is to ensure that the game remains fun for everyone to play. The standard of determination here is "Clear and Obvious." Is it clear and obvious that the players involved were targeting my character? I think that is very hard to defend when you consider most of these letters are OOC in nature. This doesn't have to be clear and obviously a player attack to be guilty, it just has to be clear and obviously NOT a player attack to be not-guilty.

I respectfully disagree on this point. None of the messages you posted mention your name or refer to you directly. It is clear and obvious to me that we were referring to Merlin... whom we referred to by name, and who is not you. And again, I assert my right to call Merlin a Machiavellian bastard if I want to, even if he doesn't deserve it. Especially if he doesn't deserve it. I can't believe you are seriously complaining about in-character whisper campaigns, when nobles can literally kill their peers.

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You want to look at a reason why player retention is low? It's because the social contract is eroding and not being defended. We have slowly started to allow more and more things to be seen as "okay" because it isn't a blatantly obvious: "That player is a dick." You are never going to get something like that. People know the rules, so they walk the borderline intentionally because it helps them better "win" battlemaster.

Well, dragging your in-game opponents in front of the Magistrates over frivolous accusations doesn't help either, I assure you. One of the accused has already told me that he's thinking about quitting the game over this.

And I believe if we were really trying to, err, OOCly "win" Battlemaster, we would still be targeting Darka and KKC, not Merlin.

I'm not saying you did something wrong here, I'm saying I think you probably did something wrong here. It's for the Magistrates to decide.

TH, there are some behavior that I would accept from Merlin, that I would not accept from you. Enough with this "I think you maybe probably did something wrong perhaps". Either you're saying I did something wrong, or you're not. So either show me what I did wrong (in which case I'd be happy to apologize to you, and try to improve myself), or apologize to me for dragging me in front of the Magistrates for no reason.

Stating oocly, that *I* the person should never be given power in real life is not erring on the side of caution.

That was over the line, and you said yourself in the original post that Archymond's player has already apologized.
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GoldPanda

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Should all members listed be given a punishment? No. But, completely throwing out this case is absurd and would mean the death of the social contract as we know it.

I do not believe the point of the Magistrate system is to allow a player to throw a bunch of accusations at a bunch of fellow players and "see what sticks". Either you believe we did something wrong, or you don't.

Stating OOCly that my character is evil, is not erring on the side of caution.

No it's not. And that's because I don't care one bit about Merlin's feelings regarding my OOC messages, because he's not real.

ICly, nobles are going to gossip and say bad stuff about their peers, probably behind their back but sometimes to their face. To suggest that this is a Social Contract issue is absurd.

OOCly, players are going to gossip and say bad stuff about other players' nobles, probably behind their back but sometimes to that player's face. You are free to feel insulted about this, but I dispute the notion that this is somehow an unfair tactic used to "win" BattleMaster. Please demonstrate how players OOCly saying bad things about your nobles impacts anything in-game.
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Anaris

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So we're not breaking any rules... And you want the Magistrates to punish us anyway? Why?

It is fully possible for no single message to break a rule, and yet have a collection of a hundred such messages that is worth banning someone from the game.

OOCly, players are going to gossip and say bad stuff about other players' nobles, probably behind their back but sometimes to that player's face. You are free to feel insulted about this, but I dispute the notion that this is somehow an unfair tactic used to "win" BattleMaster. Please demonstrate how players OOCly saying bad things about your nobles impacts anything in-game.

Really? Players are "going" to do this, and we just have to take it?

It doesn't have to be about trying to win. The motivations of the players making the derogatory comments and the little jokes and laughing behind their hands doesn't actually matter one bit in a case like this.

What matters is the effect. If it creates an atmosphere that is deeply uncomfortable and negative for one particular player or group, that is against the Social Contract. It doesn't matter whether you do it because you want to "win", or just because you think it's fun, and anything that's not solidly against the rules is fair game.
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Dante Silverfire

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I respectfully disagree on this point. None of the messages you posted mention your name or refer to you directly. It is clear and obvious to me that we were referring to Merlin...whom we referred to by name, and who is not you. And again, I assert my right to call Merlin a Machiavellian bastard if I want to, even if he doesn't deserve it. Especially if he doesn't deserve it. I can't believe you are seriously complaining about in-character whisper campaigns, when nobles can literally kill their peers.

Most of these messages don't refer to Merlin by name. That is exactly WHY it isn't clear and obvious. Case and point: Jason Elegant's messages. He refers to me as "He who cannot be named." Not only is there zero chance that any character has knowledge of real life Harry Potter in this game, but by using such language it is very easy to see it as not discussing Merlin, and instead Merlin's player. Why? Because, there is zero differentiation given in the entire set.

In addition, he goes and gives a freaking Disclaimer. If you need a disclaimer in your letters to try and make them less offensive or reportable that is a problem.

apologize to me for dragging me in front of the Magistrates for no reason.

I don't think anyone should ever have to apologize for bringing a Magistrate case when it is intended to protect the Social Contract or the players in this game. I certainly won't be apologizing for that.

If I was even possibly breaking the rules I'd expect someone to make a case against me, so that I could see the problem and correct myself if I was doing something wrong. If the problem is that the case is public, that isn't by my doing, so don't blame that on me.

No it's not. And that's because I don't care one bit about Merlin's feelings regarding my OOC messages, because he's not real.

ICly, nobles are going to gossip and say bad stuff about their peers, probably behind their back but sometimes to their face. To suggest that this is a Social Contract issue is absurd.

OOCly, players are going to gossip and say bad stuff about other players' nobles, probably behind their back but sometimes to that player's face. You are free to feel insulted about this, but I dispute the notion that this is somehow an unfair tactic used to "win" BattleMaster. Please demonstrate how players OOCly saying bad things about your nobles impacts anything in-game.

It is a well known fact that players find it very difficult to separate IC and OOC information that they hear about in-game. That is why it is good not to talk about OOC secrets with players who shouldn't know about them IC. Doing so just makes it more likely that they'll accidentally use this information or it will subconsciously change their decision making.

Perhaps the players in CE were going to have their characters support Merlin as Merlin was making a lot of good logical points. But then, they read OOC'ly that Merlin is a manipulative bastard, evil, and can't be trusted. They have nothing to back this up from IC correspondence, but a few players that they respect a lot (namely all the leaders in the league) are saying this as FACT within the league as an OOC statement. Well, they then decide hey, maybe my character shouldn't trust Merlin. So, Merlin gets further alienated because of constant damning OOC remarks or jabs at him, his realm, or his actions.

That is how OOC information can have a bad effect in-game.
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Indirik

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I have to admit, that the profusion of those messages gives a very poor impression of that set of players. "Hammargays"? Really? Even in an IC message, that's a clearly derogatory and OOC inflammatory remark that simply shouldn't be said.

Many of these other messages, though sent IC, also have a derogatory tone that could easily be interpreted as referring to a player, and not a character. "'the one who cannot be named' behaves like a 5 year old"...

OOC cracks about the chosen realm name: "Or just go full egomaniac and name the realm Silverfiria?" ... again, could quite easily be taken as a poke at the player. Add to that the continued use of RL references as derogatory references to the realm: "Narnia" and "Silnarnia"...

(Aside to Vellos: This is completely different than the "Farronite Repubic" jokes, as the ruler of FR realm actually named the realm that by mistake. If TH had actually named his realm Silnarnia by accident, then I would expect some joking to follow.)

The comment of "handling of Merlin, who continues to prove that he can play his fellow Corians (sorry, Silnarians) like cheap fiddles." as an OOC comment .. if I were a player with a character in Silnaria at the time, I sure wouldn't take that as a compliment.



The whole thing taken together portrays a very childish attitude among the group. I'm not sure if the set of messages provided rises quite to the level of a Magistrates case, but that's just my impression. I could see how someone else might take it like that. And perhaps that's the whole point. If TH is sincere in his complaint, and he's actually that offended by the behavior exhibited, then perhaps we as a community need to take that into consideration, and see what we can do to improve it. As Anaris says, just because one message doesn't cross the line, doesn't mean that a complete set of them, in aggregate, can't cross over that line.

However... This *is* a PvP game. Tempers will get hot from time to time, and there will be some confrontational incidents between players. You *have* to have a thick skin to play these kinds of games. Just like, from time to time, your friends piss you off, you can expect the same thing to happen here.

This one is really a tough call...
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Anaris

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I think the problem with saying things like "tempers will get hot" is that this isn't a set of knee-jerk reactions to an upsetting incident. This is just the way they act. They clearly feel that this is "normal," and I think that perhaps more than anything else here, that is a real problem.
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Lavigna

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I think the problem with saying things like "tempers will get hot" is that this isn't a set of knee-jerk reactions to an upsetting incident. This is just the way they act. They clearly feel that this is "normal," and I think that perhaps more than anything else here, that is a real problem.

+1
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I think the problem with saying things like "tempers will get hot" is that this isn't a set of knee-jerk reactions to an upsetting incident. This is just the way they act. They clearly feel that this is "normal," and I think that perhaps more than anything else here, that is a real problem.

+2

jaune

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I felt bad for Silverfire back then when he first got in power and started Phoenix Empire. The pressure was horrible on him... inside the league and later of course also outside too. I admit i pushed IC him too back then, but there was pretty good IC reasons for that.

This really is tough one, somehow those messages arent that bad, i could imagine even my self to joke around like that... what makes it bad, that there is only one target and multiple continuous "jokers"... it smells like school bully thing.

I totally understand if rulers of CE & Tara are cautious and uppsett what is happening, but what i have heard, Merlin has tried to everything to keep things calm with them, but gets back just buckets of poop. I dont know if other League members from smaller satellite realms (Strombran, Rielston, Minas Leon( is it on League?) etc. feels about this... This pretty much shows to everybody that if you dont stay in line with CE, you get trashed, not only through military force, but first verbally.

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