Sunday, March 30, 2014

Complicit silence normalizing a peer culture of harassment

I think the operative word is "expressing" one's objection. What i've learned over the years from listening to speakers on the topic of harassment is that being silent is the worst thing you can do because it reinforces the peer pressure to applaud the bad behavior, which supports the status quo.
Jackson Katz's Bystander Approach (anybody who is not a perpetrator or a victim in any given situation; peer culture relationships) "How do we not remain silent in the face of abuse?"..."Isn't your silence a form of consent and complicity? Well, the 'bystander approach' is about giving people the tools to interrupt that process and to speak up and to create a peer culture climate where the abusive behavior will be seen as unacceptable. Not just because it's illegal but because it's wrong and unacceptable in the peer culture. And if we can get to the place where [people] who act out in [bigoted] ways will lose status"..."as a result of it. Guess what? We'll see a radical diminution of the abuse because the typical abuser is not sick and twisted, he's a normal guy in every other way. Isn't he? Now, among the many great things that Martin Luther King said in his short life was, 'In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends'"..."It's not easy in male culture for guys to challenge each other. Which is one of the reasons why part of the paradigm shift that has to happen is not just understanding these issues as men's issues but they're also leadership issues"..."Because ultimately, the responsibility for taking a stand on these issues should fall on the shoulders of adult men with power, [whom] we need to be holding accountable for being leaders on these issues."..."When somebody speaks up in a peer culture and challenges and interrupts he or she is being a leader."..."We don't need sensitivity training, we need leadership training"..."Caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other."

I find Anita Sarkeesian message to resonate so strongly with this current "earthquake" (as Ripard Teg puts it) that i'm going to transcribe a part of her TEDx talk starting about 6 minutes in. I'll let her words speak for themselves.
What type of game is it? (it's fundamentally a social one) "Now we don't usually think of online harassment as a social activity, but we do know from the strategies and tactics that they use that they were not working alone. They were actually loosely coordinating with each other. And this social component is a powerful motivating factor that works to provide players/perpetrators with incentives to participate and to actually escalate attacks by earning the praise and approval of their peers. We can kind of think of this as an informal reward system where players earn internet points for increasingly brazen and abusive attacks. Then they would document these attacks and then they would bring themselves back to the message boards as evidence to show off to each other. Kind of like trophies or achievements. So, we have this general structure of a social game."..."The end result is maintaining, and reinforcing, and normalizing a culture of [bigotry] where men who harass are supported by their peers and rewarded for their [bigoted] attitudes and behaviors."
She tends to not have any other decent talking points because she is a pandering hack who routinely devolves into useless anecdotes. That doesn't take away from her one and only salient point above, albeit probably plagarized.


What do i really think about this whole sordid episode?
  • Of CCP i think it was merely PR damage control...It came down to public relations and controlling the message.
  • Of the perpetrators i think they proved Anita Sarkeesian's point about "this social component is a powerful motivating factor that works to provide players/perpetrators with incentives to participate and to actually escalate attacks by earning the praise and approval of their peers."
  • Of  the victim i thought a while ago it was designed as a huge troll, except according to FunkyBacon this happened back in November, and there's been "hundreds" of bonus rooms (and golly gee "one winner"...riiiight) But, you see there's something really suspicious about a 2009 character falling for a jita local scam, who from his eve-who stats looks all the world like an alt...He's actually made forums posts (two following his TS appearance) which strikes me as disingenous. So, yeah, i still think it was a massive troll and Jester bit down real hard. It's a damned good thing he did because i'm betting this CSM bid by E1 was going to have something splashy to crow about CCP's silent complicity in the villain peer culture.
  • Of the patsy i thought Ripard Teg proved Jackson Katz' point about leadership skills and challenging abusive behavior, even if he found out about it long after the incident and regardless of the victim's apparent claims he's been misrepresented and ignored.
So, yeah, what i said on Minerva Zen's blog still holds true in my mind: "I believe it was just a huge troll on the part of the 'victim' and the griefer that would have been revealed if CCP's continued apathy towards enforcing their eula/tos against flagrant cases of griefing (aka 'The Code' and this tool) made it attractive to dump on bloggers championing on high horses."
You see, the griefer was running for CSM before he was banned. What better way to garner lots of attention than destroy the recent platform of a prolific blogger, on ethics? Gotta wonder who exactly brought this to the belated attention of Jester's Trek and more importantly why...

I think this problem is bigger and more systemic than simply E1 being a bad apple. I think Ripard Teg's hasty Pontius Pilate act is typical of him avoiding the real issue in the hast to throw out the griefer, bath water, tub and entire house connected to the bathroom. It's effectively making E1 the Messiah; a Martyr.

There is The Code griefing right under the nose of the EULA/ToS about "roleplaying" not being an excuse to grief/harass/etc, griefers running amok in starter systems with aggro traps, duel popups and basic trolling of n00bs, griefers using neutral RR while awoxing; griefers basically using whatever convoluted loopholes they can abuse in order to interfere in the gameplay of others at almost zero risk/energy on the part of the griefer.

There are devastating loopholes in the corporate (aka social engine) mechanics of this game defended by trollish examples of bullshit roleplayed stories of daring do against Ubiqua Seraph and the dissolution of BoB.

But, sadly, i suspect this is merely CCP doing damage control on a single bad apple and, like Ripard Teg (who's merely following their example), washing their hands of the entire affair. I doubt this will motivate the community to demand CCP finally close those systemic loopholes, and will have the griefers in The Code realize they just dodged a bullet and conclude CCP condones their roleplay.

Also, what will fascinate me is if Psychotic Monk gains alot more votes than expected and gets onto the CSM because of this episode.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Optimism in an anti-heroic age

 Blog Banter #54: Heroes
Today's topic comes Diaries of a Space Noob blog and other sources:
Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me. Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO's try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that? So I guess my question is:
Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can't exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don't have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine?

And I would add to this, who have we elevated to the level of larger than life heroes ourselves in the game, and do they actually deserve it?
"Who" are heroes? Is SirMolle or Mittens a hero? They are larger than life...people whose ambition beggar our imagination that we may do the same one day, or frighten us into believing they would only crowd us out and nip our ambitions in the bud. Whether they "deserve" it or not is besides the question.
Is it Chribba? how about Grismar? I'd certainly say Chribba is a famous figure well known and liked. What is there to debate about them "deserving" such high stature?
What is the frame of reference for such a question? I'm not going to deal with the question of whether they earned the fame or not. The fact is they are names of characters we know of in a pixelated universe we pay CCP $15 for us to pretend to work in outer space. period.

I'd rather focus on the definition of Hero and ignore the "who."
I go by C.G.Jung's definition of a hero being someone we place the best of our social mores onto and stop expecting it in ourselves.
We are all heroes, at least those that don't use the excuse of roleplay to interfere with the play of others simply because it takes little to no effort on our part. Heroes in the sense that we play this game grateful for the risk inherent in flying that which you cannot afford to lose. Heroes in the sense that we will try to warn others of griefers (aka those roleplaying the dickheads they can't be in real life; aka villains) and protect the weak instead of hurling as many of them as we can off that spartan cliff.

The anti-hero is that which blames the victim. Who admonishes the n00b with condescending talk about "thou shall not fly that which thou cannot afford to lose"...who ridicules any criticism of their grief behavior with hair splitting distinctions about how long can n00bs dance on the head of a pin before they're no longer considered n00bs. As though they'd not know a n00b if they saw one.
The anti-hero is that which exclaims, "there are no innocents" and proceeds to aggro trap in starter systems fully aware that CCP won't enforce it's EULA unless some samaritan happens by and bothers to petition and even then probably gets a polite "go fuck yourself, plzkthxdrvthru" from a jovial GM ever so serious about looking into it. yeah, right.
The anti-hero is the cult of personality. The ones that say, "internet spaceships is serious business" and don't give a fart about noble qualities just fame &/or fortune.
The anti-hero is the elitist prick whose peers snigger aloud, letting the sandbox bully get away unchallenged with the notion that kicking sand in a weaker opponent is somehow acceptable.
But, then again, the true Anti-Hero is the rebel - the person who isn't a team player at all;  With zero idealism, courage, nobility, fortitude, moral goodness, nor altruism. There's nothing to "see" here, move along. The sort of person who cast a jaundiced eye at roleplay excuses for griefing and exclaims, "well played"

But do we want a villain (a 'foil') so badly as a roleplaying device that we'll turn a blind eye towards anti-social behavior and say, "wow, he really did a professional job on that contracted hit" - swallowing hook line and sinker the griefer's excuse for hitting a random target in the wrong place at the wrong time??

Just look at CCP's ToS section 4 compared to CCP's smug marketing happiness about the loss of Ubiqua Seraph oh so long ago. Really? A contract from some mysterious patron? That's original *cough*NOT*cough*
By their actions, certainly not words (like the blind leading the blind there), CCP have proven they have stopped expecting heroic things from themselves and expect the players to police the sandbox. It's a fairly simple rationale actually: Every player is a hero, therefore why should we step up to the plate and fix this damned social minigame of theirs called "corp management: a lazy griefer's paradise"?

And what brainfart occurred to have them 'fix' jetcan aggro trap with a duel popup that is not only opted in by default but there's no opt-out option in settings? One misclick and pop goes the weasel.

When does it cross that ethical line from nonconsentual immergent gameplay that champions the element of risk into a clear violation of ToS article 4? It's like the judge talking about pornography: "i know it when i see it"
CCP has championed the smaller than life anti-hero to the point where their actions truly are larger than ToS.4, and flipped the scales so that the actual heroes are usurped in favour of the imposters.

I for one am certainly not going to fade away in noble sacrificial fashion. The pigs may have taken over the animal farm, and run around acting like Don Quixote bashing afk carebears, but that doesn't mean they "deserve" the pearls cast by CCP. To expect larger than life figures like SirMolle, Chribba, Mittens and Grismar, et al. to do something about it while we complacently toil away and do nothing to help is to stop expecting the heroic in ourselves, as C.G.Jung once opined.