RP Servers: Snitches or Saviors?September 29, 2008
“Any server flagged as Roleplay will follow the same rules as above, but with an additional set of guidelines. These servers are for those players who enjoy truly immersing themselves into the Warhammer lore by acting as their characters’ personalities in-game. Players who opt to participate on a Role Playing server must agree to far more specific rules regarding naming, and it is suggested that players would adhere to WAR or high fantasy conduct and behavior.” ~ Realm War Page
I’m surprised nobody’s given me any grief yet for rolling on a RP server, given my past tweakage of the ruleset. For all that I tease, RP servers are generally regarded as a more civilized home-away-from-home in MMOs, where the maturity level is ratcheted up a notch or two, and where the community has tools to safeguard their “more immersive” experience. Unless you join a RP guild, however, you’re not incredibly likely to find a bevy of role-playing as you’re trundling along, but you will find a server full of people more inclined to be tolerant towards it.
When you log on to a RP server in WAR, you have a huuuuuuuge scroll that attempts, in a hilariously flailing fashion, to define the RP ruleset in vague and flowery words. If they put me in charge of that screen, I would’ve boiled it down to two points: A RP server means that (1) you’re not a jerk to people who want to RP, and (2) you create character names that fit within the Warhammer world. The scroll is long and vague because it’s hard to properly express what might or might not be an appropriate name; it’s kind of like how Justice Potter Stewart tried to define obscenity: “I know it when I see it.”
On the surface, it makes sense. They want to create a server where nothing will yank a role-player out of the immersion, and that includes running by a guy named BobbleHeadJoe. For others, it’s the appeal of not having to play by the side of WeinerDude or being killed by HoFoSho. I get it. I understand. And I’m cool with it… but in a nervous, twitchy sort of way.
The problem is that we have on one hand an incredibly vague definition of what is and is not name-appropriate in WAR, and on the other hand the game community themselves are given the means to police this ruleset by submitting reports when they consider a name to be “non-RP”, which may result in a CSR contacting the player and forcing them to change their name. Vague rule, tattletale. Nothing can go wrong with this picture, right?
Maybe not. Mythic is probably banking on the hopes that the RP community is mature enough not to go overboard with reporting every little thing that doesn’t come straight from a Warhammer rulebook, and that their CSR staff has the common sense to sift between names that honestly do need to be changed, and ones that are perfectly fine. On the whole, it probably works more often than not. But does this ruleset actively encourage the players to become snitches? I think there’s a distinct possibility that it does.
Read this thread, for example. You can get a good feel for how just a shred of reporting power goes to the heads of some of these folks — who, again, are most likely in the minority — and how they see themselves as the Mythic-appointed saviors of the RP ruleset. And you can see how some of the names they report honestly have no place on this type of server.
You never know, when you run by another player, if they’re evaluating your name and twitching their finger toward the “report” button. You have no way of knowing if your name lives up to the RP standards of all of the other thousands of players on the server. And if you are unlucky enough to have an okay name that isn’t offensive or wildly non-RP and yet you’re still contacted to change it, it could sour you on the ruleset entirely.
This is a fun quote from the thread: “It was rather dismaying however when I spoke with a CSR about a Warcraft lore name which they stated was alright even after I showed them article 4 of their own code of conduct naming policy.” Player lawyers! I want to RP a dwarf personal injury attorney.
Again, I’m not saying that player reporting is always a bad thing, but just that it has potential for abuse. Someone need instead of greed on a piece of loot you want? Report them for a naming violation! An enemy player kick your butt up and down the scenario? Naming violation!
For those on RP servers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is the community more restrained and wise in its reporting practices, or do my paranoid suspicions have merit?