The Daily Grind: Is ‘naming-and-shaming’ MMO cheaters a good idea?

    
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Last week on Reddit, an EVE Online player begged CCP to organize a wall of shame for botters – essentially an online list of those caught cheating, with character names and corps to boot. This, he argued, would not only prove to the community that cheaters were being banned but allow players to “self-police” those corps “actively harbouring bots.”

You’re probably making a face right now imagining just what EVE players might do with such a list, but then again, we’re talking about botters here. I’m more curious whether you folks actually believe those are effective or a good idea in general. Several EVE players said it’d never happen because of European laws, but in fact we’ve written articles about multiple MMO studios naming-and-shaming cheaters: Guild Wars 2, Riders of Icarus, H1Z1, Tree of Savior, and Mechwarrior Online, just to name the first five I found by searching the last three years of our own site.

Is “naming-and-shaming” MMO cheaters with a “wall of shame” a good idea, or should studios that famously ban the wrong people maybe stay away from painting targets on customers’ backs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Zen Dadaist

The risk of malicious abuse is too great; mistaken identities and so on. Even if you keep it to purely in-game name reveals only. I absolutely despise cheaters in all games, report any I find and keep my own blacklists of folks I refuse to have anything to do with. However I’m not plastering it all over the internet and encouraging folks to target and hound them because what if I got the wrong end of the stick and they weren’t actually bots/cheaters?

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Rolan Storm

No. It does not work.

First, people will start wars on one another with reports.
Second, botters hey create just create another account. Even if system works it will work only against players that bot on their main account. Which rarely the case.
Third, there are people that love [negative] attention. Not to mention botters might band together. Least of worries, still plausible.

So, leave it to professionals. Along with RMT.

P.S. Although hunting down botters sounds like fun, yeah.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

They shouldn’t do anything that their lawyers advise might put them in an actionable situation. I am not a lawyer, but this doesn’t sound like a reasonable or well-considered request by the players.

I will disclose that I harbor sympathy for botting, just as I do for modding and emulation, but those tools should not be allowed to disrupt the integrity or perceived fairness of the game and in the end, cheating in a game isn’t necessarily ‘breaking the law’. Violating the privacy of your customers probably is.

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Melissa McDonald

I think the big lesson here is how much emphasis the comments below place on the value of the digital life, i.e., it is just as/nearly as valuable as the ‘real’ life. Spock stares impassively and says merely, “Fascinating.”

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Robert Mann

Depends, just like any other case. Are they red handed, guilty as sin, and there’s no doubt to be had in any way? Roast em.

Otherwise, it is best to just back off, and get to the above situation or not venture into the messy situation that will result. Not that most companies or people seem inclined to follow this advice…

Moreover, however, there needs to be some consequence of behavior. That is what is lacking, and the lack of that in any situation leads to those with affinity to being an asshat, well, being an asshat.

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Stropp

Legally risky if it turns out to be a false positive.

If someone gets banned for cheating when they didn’t, that’s one thing. They can appeal. If however they are named publically, that’s slander/libel. If that damages their reputation financially (if they’re a developer or CM and get fired) then they could sue for damages.

I’d doubt any dev/publisher legal team would give the okay for that.

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Zariarn

Yes, public shaming is great. I also recommend we bring back the stocks.

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Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

I remember, shortly after GW2’s launch, people were saying in Reddit that ArenaNet had banned them for no reason at all. I also remember how all of those complaints stopped after Anet reps showed up with screenshots of what they’d said in open chat that had gotten them banned.

Every single time I play Rainbow Six: Siege I see “xXxsoandsoxXx was banned by BattleEye.”

Naming and shaming works, that’s why people did it for thousands of years and that’s why game companies should do it.

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Bryan Gregory

When people commit crimes in real life, they are reported in our newspapers and websites. Though botting and cheating in video games is less severe, I wonder what sort of impact it would have to publicly report those situations as well.

Anonymity is probably the worst part of the internet. Would our online interactions remain the same if our online identities had to be verified and anyone could see our personal information such as name, address, and phone number, no matter where we were or what we were doing on the internet?

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

Yes, the main reason people act so badly online is because they think they are safe in their anonymity. Put a name to the bad behaviour and suddenly they are far less likely to act that way.

Also I think when were talking about naming and shaming with games were not really talking about real names per se, were talking account name. Something to link all those characters back to and associate them with so people can block, remove and disown them. Were not really talking about giving names and addresses to people can go grief and gank the real life griefers.

Accountability is important.

the only caveat I would add to this is if they are underage, in which case no they should not be named and shamed they should just be set straight.