I love MMORPGs. I also hate them with a flaming passion.
No, that’s not quite right. Really, when it comes right down to brass tacks, I hate a huge amount of the players in most MMORPGs. Not all, just most of them. And why is that, exactly?
I hate chat.
In most MMORPGs, you find regular, everyday players, just talking about whatever topic is at hand. And you find many other players trolling others, throwing out insults, and generally making racist, sexist, and homophobic nuisances of themselves!
“World of Warcraft” has one of the worst reputations, when it comes to annoying players like these, but it is far from the only game with this issue. I can say with certainty that every single MMORPG I play has trolls like these infesting their chat channels, and the problem is only getting worse!
So, what can we do about it? As players ourselves, very little, really. We can put repeat offenders on Ignore, but that does very little to step the tide of hate washing past us in text. We can report the worst of the lot to the company running whatever game we are playing, but with the MMORPG industry struggling as it is, they rarely do anything to punish transgressions in chat.
No, the solution must come from the MMORPG developers themselves. What we need are more robust, dependable, and flexible chat filters and features, so that we can block content we don’t want to see, and remove players from our view (both in-game and in chat) by IP. We also need development houses to actually take online harassment and trolling seriously, even if it means lost revenue in the short term through banning offenders permanently.
I don’t expect this to be easy, nor do I expect the situation to be resolved overnight, but I do expect to see progress made towards resolving the issues with Chat. Ignoring the problem, or telling player who report others to “just turn on your profanity filter” isn’t an acceptable response, and I expect better from the game companies we devote our time to, playing their games.