Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Gaming Environments Safe for Players

I am a female gamer and I've been playing online text games for over 18 years. The internet provides many freedoms including anonymity to an extent. Because games are recreation, many players believe it gives them a license to do whatever they wish. Having held the job myself, game administration can be very busy working on online games and handling players issues can be frustrating. If the administration of a game wishes to keep gamers, especially female gamers, they do need to spend time creating and maintaining a safe environment for them.

The three main areas that are important to making a game environment safe for players is game design, rules, and rule enforcement. All do take some thought and effort but they are important to creating a safe environment for players.

Game Design

If admins want to make players feel comfortable, the game should not encourage any sexist or inappropriate behavior. The female gamer population is growing every day. If a game admin doesn’t want to alienate these potential players they need to consider what message the game is presenting to them. While the environment seems to be getting better with each passing year, females still deal with a fair amount of inappropriate behaviors in real life including being disregarded by male peers or being regarded for the wrong attributes. In our fantasy worlds, most women don’t want to deal with the issues we have to deal with in real life.

• Give female characters equal oportunity for success on the game.
• Make sure that NPCs are not designed in offensive ways nor model inappropriate

There should be clear rules of conduct on any online text based game. I can tell you from experience that while certain things should be considered common sense, that common sense is not common especially online. Players will do things inappropriate all the time. Online text games players come from a multitude of countries and cultures with varying rules of conduct. If a game has clear and specific rules of conduct then it is much cleaner and easier for administrators to deal with inappropriate behavior.

• Model good behavior by respecting your players.
• Create a no tolerance policy for disrespect in all out of character
• Don't allow sexual RP on games with underage players.
• Have clear rules on sexual RP on games just for those over 18.

Rule Enforcement

Rules are not worth anything if the game administration does not enforce them. There are many degrees of game rules. Some warrant tolerance and multiple chances. But if you do not catch and stop the disrespect and disregard of fellow players the problem can very easily spiral out of control.

• Be firm but fair with your players when enforcing rules.
• Don’t be afraid to delete the characters of players that are repeat offenders
and be prepared to ban certain IPs.
• Make it as equally evident that false accusations will be dealt with just as
• Game staff should be approachable about harassment issues and make the players
feel as if such complaints are taken seriously.
• Don’t get involved in player issues that happen outside of the game.

For a more indepth advice for making gaming environments safe -

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