A more perfect union
Some of you may remember Tseric.
For those who don’t, Tseric was a Blizzard World of Warcraft community manager. One of those forum admins who gets to explain to the inpatient players why something happened or something didn’t happen they way that exact player wanted it to.
On May 13th 2007, after a series of postings in the Shaman class forums, Tseric posted the following about his job, the challenges he at the time dealt with and his relationship with the community.
Shorty after the thread was deleted.
“When you can understand how a group of belligerent and angry posters can drive away people from this game with an uncrafted and improvisational campaign of misery and spin-doctoring, then perhaps, you can understand the decisions I make. Until you face mobs of psychology, you will not see my side.
Until you see some bright-eyed player coming onto the forums wanting to know what they should spec as this class, and see them shat on and driven away by petty and selfish people who are simply leveraging for game buffs, you will not understand.
You will not understand until you have to see it daily, for years…
Until you understand that many people will trod over you to get where they’re going, or to get what they want.
Until you understand that so many people will agree, completely, 100% with a loud, vulgar and assertive individual, not because he is right, but because he is making a stand against “the Man”; to take no critical thought in what they say, but simply to hop on board.
Until you actually try to acknowledge those who do not speak on the forums, for whatever reason they have, you will not understand.
If you think an archaic business formula like “the customer is always right” works, you fail to understand customers, not a customer. It is a collective. No one person, even myself, is truly above the whole.
I simply have the unfortunate quality of being easily singled out.”
A short time passed and Tseric wrote and published a second post.
“Can’t help it.
Posting impassionately, they say you don’t care.
Posting nothing, they say you ignore.
Posting with passion, you incite trolls.
Posting fluff, you say nonsense.
Post with what facts you have, they whittle down with rationale.
There is no win.
There is only slow degradation.
Take note. It is the first and only time you’ll see someone in my position make that position.
You can be me when I’m gone.”
On May 17th 2007 (the following Thursday), in response to a thread about a new CM job opportunity, Eyonix, another Blizzard CM, revealed that Tseric had moved on to different things. No further information was given.
Players still to this day argue whether Tseric was fired or if he wrote these last posts to go out in a blaze right before he gave his resignation.
The tale of Tseric is often seen as an episode of subtle comedy. He was ridiculed by some after he left Blizzard. Others took the opportunity to discuss the bad manner, the immaturity, the trolling and the ridiculous cater me always expectations of the World of Warcraft community in particular and the mmo community in general. This discussion is one of importance. Too many believe that “trolls are gonna troll” and that’s the end of it.
It’s not the end of it. If polite, mannered and mature communities are to be built, all the participants must engage to make it so. Here the game companies has a huge responsibility. One often sees that when this responsibility isn’t met it can lead to horrible outcomes. Many players simply leaves the game in which trolls thrive. One example of this is ofcource the game HoN, which probably has one of the worst communities of all time. In every category.
Game development companies can do a lot to establish a well mannered culture within their game communities. It’s all about which norms they choose to promote.
At the same time the communities themselves have a responsibility to eachother. Older players can make the choice to in a calm and mature way set a standard in the tone of conversation, which actually inspire change. It might not make it all the way in it self when it comes to building a well mannered and positive community, but it’s an important step.
Three incentives seem self apperent to promote, to build a nicer community.
1. In-game rewarding sytems for being well mannered. Helping others, showing and explaining. Basically creating opportunities of playing together, but at the same time with some rewards for being mannered.
2. Incentives outside the game. The posts on forum, website and comment sections should be rewarded when posted in with manner and good tone. doesn’t have to be much. Just basic incentives.
3. Real time incentives. Now this is important. Regardless if you are in-game or in the forums, all game companies and community sites must focus on hard and fair chat, comment and forum moderation. Skilled moderators determens if a community floats or sinks. There are countless examples of this. Instead of mentioning names of community sites that did or didn’t do well here I will simply say that all communities that tends to have a this is our house mentality, and demands respect for it, has a much more positive, well mannered and interesting visitor and member base.
Here is where the unfortunate story of Tseric matters. If both Blizzard and their World of Warcraft community had taken more responsibility to establish a positive culture, less responsibility and weight would have been put on the already overburdened community managers. This applies not only to the Blizzard community, but to all of them.
In order for gaming and game developing companies to thrive, these demands should be met at a much lager rate. It needs to be a priority, both for the owners of the game companies and community sites, and for the community participants themselves.
In the opinion of yours truly, that’s the main way gamers would create a more perfect union.
What are the best ways, in your opinion, to create politer, kinder and more helpful gaming communities?