If you'd stared into the dark heart of the internet, well... you're probably too busy being curled up in the foetal position to read this. For game makers, balancing a lively community with the need to maintain a safe space for both developers and players is an age-old problem. In a profile on GamesIndustry.biz , SOE's director of global community relations Linda Carlson outlined the company's approach to dealing with abusive members of their community. One of the more interesting methods outlined involved holding players accountable for their actions outside of the game. Even players posting abusive messages on Twitter can now find themselves on the wrong end of SOE's banhammer.
"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," Carlson says. "We do not need those individuals as customers. A very influential player, high up in a huge guild - we'll still ban them... In our games, if you are an exploiter we don't care who you are, how big your guild is, how many people you threaten to take with you when you go.
"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."
Not that she's proposing a one-jerk-fits-all policy. Carlson recognises a difference between their competitive environments - PlanetSide 2, for instance - and their collaborative ones, like Everquest. But even within those different environments, there are certain patterns of behaviour that SOE - and basic common decency - deem as going too far.
Examples of this behaviour aren't exactly hard to find . Even so, Carlson recognises that, to an extent the reaction is part of human nature. "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"