Monday, August 11, 2008

Much ado about ALMOST nothing

So, the big MMO news this week is that an Age of Conan GM got fired as the result of engaging in cybersex on duty and having that publicly exposed.

For anyone who hasn't heard of it before "cybersex" also called "Erotic Role Play" or ERP for short, is basically engaging in "talk dirty to me" over the internet. ( ERP for pay is the number one way people have made Linden dollars in Second Life and approaches basically the same market as "phone sex" but that's another story.)

If you strip away our society's juvenile combination of fascination and horror over anything sexual (something I put down to our origins as a Puritan colony-- a group so obnoxious and screwed up that the *Brittish* kicked them out) there really isn't a lot here.

Two chatters talked dirty to each other and one published it. Big hairy whoop. Its also hardly new. Luring someone into an exchange that could be publicly embaressing and then making it public is one of the most basic tricks in the griefer's handbook.

I do think the GM needed to be canned, but not because of anything inherently wrong with erotic role play. The GM needed to be canned because ( a ) he should have known better then to engage in personal hobbies while wearing the mantle of authority (as meager as the authority of a GM is) and ( b ) he was just incredibly gullible and stupid to be so easily lured by one of the oldest tricks in the industry.

Now the story is being reported as "AoC GM fired over Cybersex." I'm not sure that's really right. To my mind you cannot really fire someone who isn't technically an employee and most if not all of the AoC GMs are volunteers. This *does* point otu the fatal flaw with the whole comncept of volunteer sysops though. When you have unpaid volunteers doing an admin job, they are inevitably doing it for only one real reason-- some sense of power or authority. But a feeling of power or authority is only fun if others reaspond to it. Its a social game. And its inevitable that players will suck up to those volunteers to try to get favors from them, and that the same personalities that are drawn to volunteer for such a position will be apt to abuse their power in response to this sucking up.

I've seen it many, many times. Its dangerous to take your game and put it in the hands of people with-out the same financial incentives as you. They will not pursue your goals, but their own. Such is the nature of humanity.

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