[Community] Mob Mentality, Jason Vorhees, and Website Policy

For this week’s Community article, I’d like to bring up as subject that has been discussed to death over the past few years yet still remains a pervasive issue in not just the gaming community, but virtually every aspect of human life especially when the internet is concerned: Mob mentality and the internet’s ever populous septic tank of human refuse that plagues every community.

If you haven’t been paying attention, Friday the 13th developer Illfonic got caught in some hot water this weekend after a player got banned for allegedly sexually harassing a group of players including a 12 year old girl. The topic has been covered by a number of Youtubers, which you can find and catch up on if you want to know the story, but instead of talking about semantics, I’m going to summarize MMO Fallout’s response to this controversy in one paragraph:

I didn’t write about it, and looking at all of the misinformation that has come out and been repeated by various Youtubers, I am doubling down that not writing about it was the right thing to do. I throw around the term game journalist like it’s a joke sometimes, but this website does strive to follow the SPJ code of ethics, and rules one and two are seek the truth and minimize harm respectively. That didn’t happen in this case.

Among the big book of rules written for MMO Fallout, discussing reports of game bans is virtually off the table except in rare circumstances where the developer is blatantly crossing an ethical line by handing out bans for poor reviews or doing something shady and banning people in the hopes to silence that information. At the end of the day, bans are subjective, and as incredible as it sounds, people who are punished tend to lie about the circumstances surrounding their ban. I say this as someone who has a long history that includes GM’ing an MMO and owning/moderating servers for games like Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, and more. You’ll be a lot more skeptical after the tenth person you’ve banned in a month (after repeated warnings) for using racist slurs in chat shows up on the forums and says he has “no idea why he was banned for just playing the game better than everyone else.”

But more importantly, these topics tend to be eighty sixed because the internet can’t behave itself, and such coverage is only guaranteed to result in the mob mentality’s three D’s: Death threats, doxxing, and DDOS attacks. Not only has the harassment campaign by online sociopaths begun against Friday the 13th’s developers, but the servers have been hit more than once by attackers trying to either punish the developers or simply ruin the experience.

And make no bones about it, I don’t blame either the guy who got banned for airing his grief or the Youtubers for popularizing the controversy for this response, as I have written numerous times in the past, it doesn’t take much incitement for death threats to start rolling in. It’s also important that we don’t just accept this sort of action and continue to weed out and remove such bad actors.

The player in question has even apologized for what the developers have endured following his review, an act that should be commended in spite of genuinely being unnecessary. It also shows how disturbing parts of the net have become:

I know what its like to be doxxed. I know what it’s like to have your family called and have horrible things been said to them. That’s why I can no longer continue to support this. I have been approached by people on steam, asking me to??????the 12 year old I was in the game with, and to give out the people in the matches information so they could doxx them and kill them. The things people have said to me have really scared me these past couple of days and in no way shape or form did I want this to happen.

While I will never blame content creators for the actions of their community (unless said action is directly or implicitly instructed by said creator), you absolutely have an obligation to verify the facts before making statements.

Other than that I have no opinion on the matter.

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