On Verant's Banning of Mystere
Just about every gamer board in the world had lit up recently concerning the news about Verant's banning of a player from Everquest. Almost without exception, every post is against Verant. While I don't necessarily support the way they went about it, I understand their decision... and hesitantly support the outcome. Here's why.
For those of you who haven't heard about it, Verant (company what runs Everquest) recently banned a player named Mystere. Why? Because he had posted fanfiction on EQVault which involved the Everquest world. The immediate reaction is to lambaste Verant. How dare they ban someone for posting fanfiction on a non-Verant server? How dare they? Of course, when you realize that what he was posting was fanfiction involving the brutal rape and torture of a child, the story shifts a little bit.
Still, most people remain supportive of Mystere at this point. After all, this is a free world, and if he wants to write about that, then so be it. Who is Verant to tell him what to write, and what not to write, especially when it involves a non-Verant forum.
I'd like to propose a different way of looking at this.
Everquest a haven for stalkers and perverts?
Verant has an image to uphold. And that image is one of being family-friendly, to a certain extent. A great many of Everquest's players are, no doubt, children. And if the word got out that an Everquest player was posting child pornography on the Internet, how many parents would immediately yank their kids off the Everquest servers? How many players would they lose? After all, if they do NOT ban him, aren't they supporting his right to be a child pornographer? Isn't Everquest then a haven for stalkers and perverts? What child is safe when that warrior coming to save you is actually coming just to fondle you?
Granted, the kneejerk reaction on the part of Verant is going to piss some people off. But above and beyond any argument anyone cares to lay down about the First Amendment (and you won't find a bigger supporter of that than me), the simple fact remains that they have the right to do whatever they want with their system. You do not have the RIGHT to play Everquest. They let you play. And if they don't want you to play, they won't let you.
Now, they can't simply start banning people for no good reason. Imagine the hissy fit the government would have if Everquest started banning all black players, or all Jewish players. But who's going to argue if they ban all players who post kiddie porn on the Internet? No one. Especially when the government is currently chiding Hollywood for marketing violent and sexual movies, stories and games to children.
I've run into this very situation on my MUD before. We had a player who would routinely wander around and role-play the physical and sexual abuse of all our female players. After losing a few of them, we finally decided just to ban the jerk. And we were all much better off for it.
In closing, don't look at this as the big bad corporation banning the little fanfiction poster guy. Think of this as a company that markets to families and children banning someone they, and most parents, will perceive as a writer of kiddie porn.
I won't argue whether or not the story in question was, indeed, child pornography. I'm only arguing that in many cases, perception is reality. And it's pretty obvious what the perception was here. But what's your perception? What do you think about all this? Let's hear what you have to say.