Taking a Stand

by on January 1st, 2011
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For the past two or three months, I have played a massively multi-player social game called “The Godfather: Five Families,” developed by Kabam. As I have pointed out, there is a social aspect to the game, which is in the form of a chat box. For those unfamiliar with the game, I will do my best to explain this in clarity.

Upon loading the game, you will see a chat box in the lower left corner of the screen, but before you can see what anyone says, your computer must connect to the chat server, which is done automatically. Upon connection to the chat server, you will see yellow text come up which states “Rules: Please respect the other players. No profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, spam or links allowed.”

There have been numerous times in which no one was on that I wanted to speak to, so I would just watch what was said in chat, and too many times I have seen the use of racial slurs and hate speech. There has even been one occasion in which I saw someone issue real-life death threats to another person. Each person on the game who I’ve seen use racial slurs or say something resembling hate speech, I have used the “Report Abuse” option which shows up when you click on the person’s name, along with the options of “View Profile”, “Mute” and “Send Message.”

Many people have informed me that they have reported the same people that I have, and for the same reason: the repetitive use of racial slurs as well as general hate speech. Some people have gone as far as to capture a “screenshot” of the chat box showing the use of racial slurs/hate speech and have emailed them to Kabam…and yet Kabam has done nothing to stop it. As game developers, network specialists, and computer programmers should know, it would not be difficult for those who moderate the game to determine what server a person is on, what email address they used to sign up with, or what IP address they most frequently login from. It would also not difficult for them to remove/delete the account of the person who has been reported dozens, if not hundreds, of times.

In mid-January, a person from the same server I play on brought up this issue in Kabam’s community forum for the game, yet Kabam did nothing, and did not even give an apology, not even a sarcastic one. A couple of days ago, myself and other members of my “crew” got fed up with constantly dealing with the racial slurs and hate speech that we decided to quit the game. After quitting the game, I created another post on the game forum about the issue. This time warranting the response of a forum moderator who is rumored to be assigned to posts/issues that the main, senior moderator wants to avoid.

This was the response: “I think issues like this can only be solved by GMs/Mods on every server. Or Kabam monitoring the chat logs and warning people that used the words you were talking about.”

As painstaking as monitoring the chat logs would be, it’s a relatively simple task. Placing Game Moderators on every server would be even simpler. Yet Kabam, unfortunately, still has yet to do anything despite the numerous complaints and abuse reports, despite the numerous emails containing screenshots of the chat box containing racial slurs or hate speech. The only times I’m aware of Kabam actually doing something has been when someone has issued real-life death threats against another player, and someone has taken a screenshot of it and emailed it to Kabam.

Kabam’s indifference to this issue has made myself as well as a handful of other people to quit the game and boycott the company. Unfortunately, losing a handful of customers is not enough to let Kabam see how serious this issue is. The only thing that may be effective is public knowledge topped with pressure from the media and various watchdog organizations.

I’m doing my part and taking a stand against Kabam’s egregious indifference to the subject and writing this article. I have contacted the ACLU, CNN, MSNBC, NAACP and Anti-Racist Action informing them of this matter. I have also contacted Best Buy and GameStop, both of whom sell Kabam game cards.

In closing, I would like to leave you all with a few quotes from Thomas Jefferson:

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty .”

And last, but not least:
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. ”

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