Aug 102011
 

by Chris Logel

MMORPG veterans are undoubtedly familiar with the fact that developers often create different active and passive rulesets for different servers. Active rulesets such as player-versus-player or player-versus-environment rulesets are servers in which game-rules are enforced automatically by the computer. By contrast, passive rulesets such as those in effect on roleplaying (RP) servers are only enforced by the players themselves and occasionally game masters. Heretofore, these three types have been our options: PvE, PvP and RP (or some combination thereof). What I propose is that we add an additional passive ruleset: Respectful Gaming (RG).

More R-E-S-P-E-C-T and Comments after the jump…

Let me begin by first defining what I mean by RG. RG does not mean casual gaming or carebear gaming, nor does it mean the opposite of those things. Rather, RG is a social ruleset which can be used in combination with any of the aforementioned rulesets. The goal of the ruleset is to encourage respectful gaming amongst the server’s populace. Specifically, an RG server is one where players are respectful towards not only each other but also towards the spirit of the game.

Being respectful of other players should be a self-explanatory concept, but in case it is not, let me make my meaning clear. Respect in the context of a multiplayer game means, among other things:

  • Not insulting your fellow players.
  • Avoiding spoiling the story for others.
  • Giving reasonable help to other players when appropriate.
  • Being a generally respectful person.

These concepts should not be difficult to understand since most of us adhere to these sorts of norms in our everyday lives. Oddly though, as obvious as these concepts are in our “real world” lives once players sit behind a keyboard they are much more likely to be disrepectful to other people in a way which they would never dream of doing in real life.

Unlike respect for your fellow player, respect for the game is a far more nebulous and less intuitive concept. In general what I mean is, that players should strive to respect the atmosphere and the gameplay concepts around which the game was constructed. The best I can do to define it would be to give you examples that show disrespect for the spirit of TOR.

  • Naming your character “Obesity Prime” or “SPHINCTER.”
  • When playing as a darkside Sith Inquisitor, you decide to dye all of your armor bright pink and put large Care Bear decals on it.
  • Using exploits, buying in-game money or power-leveling services.

These rules fall somewhere in between those necessary on an RP server and those on a server without any social rules. I think that there is actually a substantial demand for these kind of rules, wherein players do not want to roleplay explicitly, but on the other hand do not want ridiculous behavior breaking the immersion or Star Wars atmosphere which BioWare has worked so hard to develop via story and other devices. Personally, I am not a roleplayer, but that does not mean that I want to see someone named “Gandalfimus Maximus” running around as a Jedi Sage.

You might reasonably ask, are these rules necessary? And if so, why? If you’ve ever played an online game for more than five minutes you probably already know the answer: the Internet is full of jackasses – lots of them. This situation seems to be amplified in many online gaming populations. RG servers would simply be a haven for those who want to get away from the sea of jerks who flood what are otherwise perfectly good online games. And lest you think that these proposed rules are too controlling, remember that all players are completely free to play on whatever kind of ruleset they want. If they want to play on a server without RG rules, that’s just fine.

There is of course a problem of enforcement. By all accounts TOR will easily break the million subscriber mark within the first few weeks of its release. If RG servers were to be implemented it would probably be cost prohibitive to enforce RG-type rules via hired game masters. If the system itself is unenforceable then the rules themselves are meaningless. The only solution which I can think of would be to leave enforcement to the players themselves via a committee system similar to that in League of Legends (LoL). In LoL players are disciplined for violations of the in-game passive rules by groups of high level players who make a decision by committee. There are safeguards built into the system to prevent potential abuse and manipulation. By most accounts this system has been a resounding success and has done a great deal to tame the notoriously hostile players of the Defense of the Ancients / Heroes of Newerth / LoL gaming scene. I think that such a system could easily work in an MMO as well.

Would you be interested in playing on an RG server? Tell us what you think in the comments or on the Corellian Run Radio forums.

  5 Responses to “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the Ruleset”

  1. I like the idea of RG servers, but in a way I don’t know that Bioware can do too much in way of enforcement. I find the best way to achieve a RG server is start by making an RG guild, and make sure that the guild only interacts with other RG guilds. It becomes an insular subculture of the server sure, and you might see DarfPooPooPants walking by from time to time, but your specific gameplay is not hampered sinc eyou are dealing with your kind of players almost all the time. I’m in a WoW guild like that right now and it has made the game a lot of fun.

  2. There’s actually a group of people who were concerned enough about this issue that they have formed a community pre-launch: Respect In Gaming. Check them out at http://respectingaming.com/ .

    Joining up with a group of people before choosing a server may be the most effective way to ensure you are surrounded by like-minded people.

  3. I totally agree with the exploiting, which i am hoping bioware is going to have some enforcement for. As for making your armor the way you want or not being able to make a funny character name imo is stupid that is what RP servers are for and maybe that should be regulated in RP servers but not all servers. Yes it may not exactly fit with the story line but with several hours of gameplay im going to make the character look the way i want and a name i can live with. If you want to be a hardcore roleplayer go to the RP server.

  4. It’s hardly hardcore RP to want to still have the Star Wars universe feel that the game is being designed and made with. I would think most players are coming to play in part because they want to control a character in Star Wars.
    I think it would be an elegant solution to have an RG server separate from other PvE/PvE/RP servers as it would provide the level of maturity and immersion most people want without requiring anyone to actually role-play.
    Just means that those players are wanting and willing to be and play with others who are being contentiousness about things like naming, story and a generally acceptable interaction between your fellow gamers (no griefers, jackasses, Darthn00bLOLz pwns you, etc.)

    Like the article said, these things should be common, but alas are not as people can get overly “brave” when not standing face-to-face with another person.

  5. I could not agree more to wanting to see respect in gaming. It’s a shame that some people hide behind the internet to be something they would not consider being in the real world.

    *goes off singing R E S P E C T in her best Aretha Franklin imitation*

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