Monday, February 8, 2010

Mature Discussions on Matters of Commerce

Or, as we like to call it in WOW, trade chat.

The theory of trade chat in WOW is that people will make posts offering goods or services and others can respond to those posts.  In theory this is a place where people can come to conduct in game business, whether that be acquiring goods to make better gear or just trying to play the margins and fleece the rubes.  The reality of trade chat though is that there are posts here and there pertaining to the topic of commerce but they are largely drowned out by the offtopic roar.  There are somewhat offtopic discussions like people trying to recruit for guilds or for dungeon runs and then there are *really* offtopic discussions like debating who is going to win the super bowl and whether or not Chuck Norris could beat up Mr T.

Today the main topic in trade chat was penis length.

Before we go any further there are two Big things you have to know about me.  Firstly I have opinions.  Lots of them.  Some of my most dearly held opinions concern the human body and ways in which we treat it.  Specifically I heartily dislike the demonization of genitalia and the way in which they are often thought of as obscene and taboo.  We have penises and vaginas, they aren't evil, and there is nothing wrong with discussing them.  Secondly I have no fear of expressing those opinions in public.  In fact you might even suggest that I enjoy the loud, uninhibited free exchange of ideas in a confrontational format.  Given these two things, it should be surprising to no one that I waded on in and began telling people how things are.

As regularly happens among people who discuss genitalia in public, the debate turned to whether or not size matters.  Most of the conversation revolved around making crude (sometimes funny, usually boring) jokes and trying to combine the topics of Chuck Norris and penises, but here and there some actual debate took place.  The main thing that interested me was one particular poster - Puritan - who objected strenuously to this debate taking place in trade chat.  He cried out

"There are minors in this channel you know!  I am going to open a ticket with Game Master to get you guys to stop."

Wow, really?  People under 18 playing video games?  Who would have suspected that?  Thing is, kids are taught about sexual organs and their functions at a very early age now.  They know about them, and if they are attending school then we aren't going to teach them any new words.  We might teach them a lot about how people treat sexuality in a social context, but that is useful information to have.

I ended up calling out Puritan on the basis that
1.  The game has a profanity filter he can turn on if he wants to.
2.  The game allows him to permanently ignore people he does not want to hear from again.
3.  He can leave trade chat any time he wants and come back if he chooses.
4.  Penises are not evil, filthy or degrading.

He came back at me with the argument that trade chat is for trade, and hence we were in the wrong, only discussion about trade should take place.  The thing is though, this is a public channel.  Anyone can join, anyone can leave, anyone can post.  If you don't like trade chat, go make your own channel (trivial to do within the game) and invite others who want to discuss only commerce to join you.  You will rapidly discover that this is not going to work, primarily because the thing you actually want is an audience, and what the audience wants is Chuck Norris jokes and to talk about penises.  Occasionally they are going to respond to the commercial messages but mostly they are there to spout off and be entertained.  Even if you could remove all the offtopic junk you wouldn't want to because the channel would be desolate.  Everyone would move over to the "When Chuck Norris crosses the street the cars have to look both ways" channel, and that channel would be infested with primarily offtopic chatter and occasional commercial content.

There is a reason that Prime Time is filled with hot new TV shows and occasional advertising and 4 AM is the time for infomercials.  If you want people to buy your stuff you need to get them to listen in the first place.  The best way to do this is to have the newest episode of 24 with occasional commercials, not a channel of 100% ads.

In a post awhile ago I talked about the reaction of some of my relatives to my posts, particularly the ones with controversial/sexual topics.  I wonder what my Grandmother thinks of this one...

1 comment:

  1. The existance of a profanity filter does not justify the use of profanity.

    I can understand that you don't believe the particular topic to be profane or vulgar, and you have no reason to follow what some random dude says, but the first justification here is flawed in my eyes.

    I used to work as a chat moderator for a game and that argument was the one most used by hooligans in the defense of their actions. A profanity filter is an extra safeguard to be sure, but it does not replace self control.

    We didn't want such language in our public chat rooms and we made that very clear to everyone who created an account (and who read everything they agreed to, which few people do) and we also gave private verbal warnings to anyone who broke the rules. If people insisted on their right to say whatever they wanted because of the filter they eventually lost their ability to talk or their account entirely.

    WoW is obviously a different game and they take a far less draconian stance on their public chat rooms than we did. (Almost certainly because of scale and not because they actually like you talking about body parts.) I really miss that, especially when an outbreak of Anal [insert unclever ability name here] crops up. I wish that when I right clicked their names and reported them that they'd suffer some consequence for behaving like an idiot.