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How to balance freedom of expression & abuse in games?


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#1 derech   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 03:16 AM

Hello everybody!
I'm struggling for days now with a design issue, maybe you can help?
I'm trying to build a Q&A game, in which people can type freely their answers (instead of choosing from predefined answers). The problem is that giving freedom to type can open possibilities for abusing the system (i.e for the question "what's your favorite movie?" someone can answer "I love cock").
I came up with these solutions, but they don't feel right:
- use report / block button
- rating features
- use auto-completion to help steer the answers
- use algorithm that prevents the use of "bad words"
- focus on asking interesting questions, so people won't get board and consider abusing
- having random players play with their Facebook profile name revealed
- or just do the most engaging game, and trust people smile.png
 
Can you think of design elements/ features/ psychological elements that can lower / eliminate this issue of abuse without damaging the freedom of expression?
 
For me, It would be great if the abuse level will be like in Draw Something, but it will be a disaster if it will look like Chat Roulette" smile.png
 
Any thoughts or directions will help a lot.
Thanks a lot!


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#2 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 06:33 AM

Let's look at your "what's your favorite movie?" -> "I love cock" example.

Some players might be pissed off because their opponent isn't actually trying to play. Performance-based matchmaking will mostly handle this.

Some players might be offended about the sexual nature of the answer, while others might find it amusing. No reason to prevent the latter type of players from playing each other. People have different cultural and personal values; there's no correct level of tolerance or sensitivity. As such, I don't like tackling the situation with rigid enforcement of some moral standard. Rather, give players effective tools to control which kind of players they are matched with.

The simplest implementation might only track a single "nice" rating and match players with similar niceness, but you could also have more finely-grained ratings that would more accurately reflect the situation. A child screaming in chat, a casual racist and someone who merely talks openly about sexuality are very different, even though the three might end up at same niceness when judged by the general population.

The matching wouldn't have to be symmetric either. You could let players define a profile for themselves that says which rated characteristics they value in their opponents and how much. For instance, I'd really want to dodge the screaming child, would not hugely mind playing with the casual racist and would not mind sexual speech at all. Naturally, if you made a very choosy profile, you'd wait longer to be matched than someone who'll play with anyone and everyone.

#3 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9992

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 10:33 AM

For me, It would be great if the abuse level will be like in Draw Something, but it will be a disaster if it will look like Chat Roulette" smile.png

Let's take a look at this example: what do you see as the major difference between Draw Something and Chat Roulette?

To my mind, it is that Draw Something primarily matches you against your Facebook friends list, while Chat Roulette matches you against the general population.

Is someone drawing obscene images in your Draw Something? Chances are that you aren't offended, because you already knew that your friend has a juvenile sense of humor. And as a last-ditch measure, you can always delete them from Facebook.

Social gaming strikes me as about playing games with people I know and like (and potentially, their friends as well). Playing against the whole internet opens a whole other can of worms...

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#4 japro   Members   -  Reputation: 887

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 10:51 AM

I can't remember where I read that but there was some article about building a "safe environment for kids" in a online game by having a sentence construction toolkit that only consisted of "safe words". Apparently within minutes of playtesting with actual children someone had come up with something along the lines of: "I want to stick my ice cream into your fluffy bunny"... so no matter how you do it time-to-penis is always finite and usually really short biggrin.png


Edited by japro, 22 May 2013 - 10:53 AM.


#5 derech   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 02:59 PM

Thanks for the great replies!

 

@YrjoP - I like the idea of the performance based match making, but isn't it more effective on the long run, after the player has been playing a while?

I totally agree with you that I don't want to prevent anything, more to design an environment in which people can feel comfortable and engaged enough to just play without thinking to much on how to cheat or abuse the system.

As for matching asymmetrically - do you have an example or reference? I'd love to see how it manifests... 

 

@swiftcoder - I agree with you that playing against your friends is much easier than to play the rest of the world. Still - don't you think that playing with strangers has a lot of advantages as well?

I want to believe that the abuse option is a risk factor that needs to be carefully addressed and designed. Playing games like "Way" or "Journey" is a good example in that manner.

 

@japro - this is a great example! that's why I'm looking more into the psychological direction, rather designing some rigid constraining feature that will cost a lot and won't hold long.

 

In short, I believe it can be done, when less focusing on building constraints, and more focusing on allowing the right conditions...



#6 Plethora   Members   -  Reputation: 679

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 07:05 PM

You can always just put in a reputation system, even a simple one.  Then allow a player to choose a minimum reputation rating to match with (maybe have some special rules about new players have to allow matching with other new players).  Prompt users to give an up or down vote to their partner after each match.  You'll have some people that downvote because they're upset for some other reason (or the immature players themselves giving downvotes just because), but those things tend to balance out once you get a sufficient sample size.


I'm working on a game!  It's called "Spellbook Tactics".  I'd love it if you checked it out, offered some feedback, etc.  I am very excited about my progress thus far and confident about future progress as well!

 

http://infinityelephant.wordpress.com


#7 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9992

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 07:28 PM

derech, on 22 May 2013 - 17:03, said:
@swiftcoder - I agree with you that playing against your friends is much easier than to play the rest of the world. Still - don't you think that playing with strangers has a lot of advantages as well?

I want to believe that the abuse option is a risk factor that needs to be carefully addressed and designed. Playing games like "Way" or "Journey" is a good example in that manner.

I'm a little torn on that one. Have I had great experiences playing with strangers? Yes. Albeit with a liberal dose of player muting/banning.

I don't know Way, but Journey is an example of the exact opposite end of the spectrum: you play with strangers, but the game mechanics restrict freedom of expression to the point that you cannot reasonably grief a fellow player...

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#8 derech   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:06 AM

@plethora - thank for the tip, this is an interesting direction that can do the job, the only minus to that is that it happens after the abuse was made. I'm trying to thing also in the direction of creating the conditions in which the wanting to abuse won't arise as much in the first place.

 

@Swiftcoder - I agree with you on the restriction on Journey, it was an example to show a good experience with strangers...

I won't be going this direction of constraining though.

WAY is less constrained, since there are more communication options in the game play, mainly through gestures.

I don't really know of free communication as part of the core game play (chat/skype in games like MMO's are a supportive channel, not the main thing).

Can it be that allowing free conversation as the main gameplay is a big NO-NO? otherwise, why it hasn't been done yet (as far as I know).

A free conversation is one the peaks of human experience - can it be put in a game?

In card games there are examples of great design for freedom without abusing ("Once upon a time" is a great example) - but in the digital realm I don't know of any.

Draw Something is the closest I know - and it's communicating with drawings, not text...






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