This story is kind of surreal. Even after reading both the article and the blog, i’m still not terribly sure what’s going on.
There was a player claiming to have beaten his 8 year-old sister in reality, and the guy running the blog wanted Maxis/EA to do something about it? Under-age prostitution? Wha? Could someone 'tard up an explanation so i can wrap my head around this?
Several other games have fan sites or newspapers that cover them, but experts could recall no other instance of clear-cut censorship. Some worlds have even encouraged journalism. “Second Life” has “embedded” Wagner James Au (a frequent Salon contributor) in its world; Au, who is paid by Linden Lab, “Second Life’s” creator, has written some fascinating reports of life in “Second Life” on a blog called Notes from a New World.
I’m sure it’s the coming of a new age of pretentious gaming, and even more pretentious writing.
I don’t know. After reading exactly one sentence on the website, I know that “Kale” doesn’t know the difference between partial and impartial. I just couldn’t continue, because I just couldn’t face another monkey with a website mistyping “loose” for “lose”. Not on a lovely snowy morning in Philadelphia, anyway.
I read this
" MMORPGs are not games, they are synthetic societies that develop synthetic cultures, economies, and governance structures. "
and sort of don’t know what to think. Is Diablo a synthetic society too? (it has a community/culture/economy)
As for policing the game… that can be done… just hire admins and mods for it… not that hard… they don’t have to be a character in the game… .they just have to see what is going on, give a player a warnign that is breaking rules and kick/ban them if they break the rules or don’t listen. Sure, this guy got kicked out for essentially giving the game a bad name, but Maxis should be talking to him to make the game better… unless they tried that and he’s just been a prick and stirring up trouble. In which case I’d get the SimMafia to break his knees.
(I would just like to pause and opine that if Maxis had just left us alone there would be about six people in the word reading the Alphaville Herald. Moral: ethics aside, censorship is really really dumb.)
The discussion on Slashdot seems to be the most active, but my favorite passage is from the lead article by James Grimmelmann in Yale University Law School’s Law Meme (a blog set up to deal with legal issues surrounding intellectual property, telecommunications policy, first amendment issues, etc.):
"On the one hand, Maxis is close to losing control over their game world. TSO is a positively Brechtian world of violence, flim-flammery, and low-down dirty tricks. (The Herald’s major “sin” was opening a window onto such goings-on.) … But on the other hand, Maxis acts like a classic despot, using its powers to single out individual critics for the dungeons and the firing squads. The usual real-world justification for this kind of arbitrary action is the need for a strong central hand to protect public safety and common welfare. But since Maxis isn’t all that good at those aspects, the Herald censorship smacks more of tyranny for its own sake. "
It really is remarkable how much coverage this has gotten (Salon, Penny-Arcade, Slashdot) and yet really, we don’t know why his account was terminated. I read through the Salon piece, and it smacked of out-n-out speculation that was decidely one-sided. I’d like to hear the EA spin on this, even if it means nothing but corporate double-speak.
Still, I think this quote describes the whole fiasco quite nicely:
Imagine you could move to a city where you could swap yourself for a younger, slimmer version that never ages and never gets tired.
In this city you could choose which job to pursue, build your dream home and do all the things you did not have the courage to do in your other life.
It sounds great but soon after you arrive, the gloss begins to fade.
One of the first people you meet is a kindly looking granny who greets you with a slap round the face and a barrage of abuse.
Escaping to one of the “safe” homes you find a den of thieves who trick you into handing over all your cash.
The local newspapers are full of investigations into child prostitution, rampant crime, mafia-controlled neighbourhoods, shadowy self-declared governments struggling to maintain order and runaway inflation.
Welcome to Alphaville.
bet Maxis are loving it, no such thing as bad publicity, right?
They are still named several times in the article, along with EA as having taken the action against the Alphaville Herald and its staff and having active involvement in the Sims Online game (I’m pretty sure they wrote the thing, and I’d be concerned if a game that had my name on it, whether I ran the online version or not, was starting to get reasonably widespread adverse publicity).