…It’s at the point it can no longer be ignored: World of Warcraft has the most outspoken community of any other Video Game and yes, I’m including both Pokemon and Call of Duty in that statement. The fundamental difference is WoW is an MMO while the other two franchises are not.
Anyone who has spent more than 2 minutes in a faction city (Stormwind, Orgrimmar, Exodar, Thunder Bluff, etc.) or content hub (Shattrath City, Dalaran, Garrison, etc.) should be familiar with the Trade Channel. It is a dedicated in-game chat channel for conducting severwide economic and group finding business with the whole server of your faction. If you are in a faction city or content hub like Shatterspear/Stormshield or your Garrison, you can see it as can everyone else in one of these places. Unlike message boards or even the chat client IRC, WoW’s chat system is not monitored in real time. What this means is folks can say whatever they want to whoever they want with no immediate consequence.
Trying to report a toxic player in Trade Chat is a waste of time more often than not for several reasons, the main one being you have no way of knowing if any action was taken against the toxic player. Another problem is when an arguement breaks out, it typically involves several people at the very least against one person, the one being the problem. It also doesn’t have this one person can simply make another toon if everyone uses the ignore feature, rendering it useless.
What’s most concerning to me and should be for everyone who plays ANY MMO is bring politics into the game with them. A few years back, the CIA confirmed they were establishing a presence in WoW and a few other MMOs. The reason for this is the same as for why the FBI added video game consoles to their budget: terrorists, criminals and hate groups are spreading their venom and recruiting in MMOs. Sure, it’s a small number but they’re definitely there. They have enough of a presence for law enforcement to monitor Trade Chat. LOL.
Anyways, the way I see it Blizzard needs to either put a warning label on the game or up the rating to M. Most of the time, the things said in Trade Chat are not for kids to see. Toxic Behavior has been on the rise in recent years. I considered just leaving the channel completely on all of my toons but I’d be robbing myself of its original purpose. I’m not the problem. Why should I have to “accept” this as “normal”? It’s unacceptible.
I will give Blizzard credit with the new Silence feature recently introduced across all its games. The feature clearly has WoW and Heroes of the Storm in mind with its introduction. How it works is offending playersare blocked from using public channels in the world as well as in Battlegrounds, Arenas, Raids and Dungeons. The Silence lasts for a preset time and it can stack and yes, it is accountwide. Past misdeeds are taken into account and with each infraction, your punishment is made longer.
In doing this, you’re not outright blocked from playing the game. You just can’t talk. Two weeks ago, a 28 year old man in Sacramento was arrested by law enforcement for threatening to bring an assault rifle to Blizzard’s headquarters in nearby Irvine and start shooting if they didn’t unSilence him in Heroes of the Storm. This is an instance where the system worked as intended: The man was apparently notorious for threatening violence against other players during matches and boasting about having a gun. The man was clearly a sociopath with anger issues and was deservedly blocked from harassing anyone else before he made the threat to Blizzard via Twitter.
THAT is how ALL toxic players should be dealt with: With the full weight of the law dropped on people who feel its within their right to ruin the playing experiences of others. Blizzard is finally doing something about it but I think it may be too late to reverse the damage long inflicted by toxic players to the game’s reputation.