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The Sims Online Mob Interview (HOT ITEM)
Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson :: 12:00 PM @ June 11th, 2003 :: In-House: Interview
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We recently had a chance to sit down with Kyle Brink, Maxis's associate director over: The Sims Online has been the topic of recent gang/mob activity. If you missed our original post then check it out. Here is what Kyle had to say about the recent activities:

GameGossip: Mob Rule. When you hear that what first comes to your mind?
Kyle Brink: Black Sabbath! But really, it's an oxymoron. Mobs are never organized or forward-thinking enough to rule anything.
GG: Do you plan on creating any sort of rules to "out-law" this sort of behavior?
KB: You mean any more rules? I sure hope not. We already have Terms of Service and a User Agreement, backed by our enforcement policies and procedures, that expressly bar harassment. There are, of course, no rules against claiming to be a criminal organization. Heck, you could claim to be an entire army of Elvis clones. But if you harass another player, you're asking for trouble. You think a TSO mafia is tough? You ought to meet our MaxisTigger. Most of the behavior described in stories about these "mobs" is no longer possible, actually; we've been improving the game with frequent updates.
GG: Any chance of seeing the addition of guns so I can defend my poor self?
KB: Guns make for such brief and bland revenge. I personally prefer my vengeance drawn-out, intricate and served up in tiny, agonizing nibbles. But seriously, you might as well ask when they will be bringing interior decorating to Grand Theft Auto. The Sims Online has a special, quirky character all its own and we don't intend to lose that.
GG: In all seriousness, what can "innocent" gamers do to protect themselves?
KB: Quite a lot, actually. We've given individual players more power over their play experience than any other online game I'm familiar with. First, we have the Ignore feature, that lets you totally shut out another player. Once you ignore someone, he or she can't talk to you, nor interact with you. That's pretty standard stuff for online communities. The power we give each property owner over his or her play space is what really makes The Sims Online different. As the owner, you decide who can and cannot enter your property. No other game gives players this much control over who comes into their play space. For the truly protective, we have parental controls, which completely lock out all communications and interactions from all players except those who have been bookmarked by your parent and who, in turn, have bookmarked you. Finally, in cases where all of the above still don't prevent some jerk or group of jerks from harassing you, we have an in-game reporting system that allows you to file complaints. These are investigated and processed very rapidly, and can result in the suspension or termination of the offending player's account.
GG: We suggest Neighborhood Watch. Or vigilante rule. Your reactions?
KB: Bo-ring! Come on, why limit yourself? Get creative. There are so many ways to respond to this sort of behavior.

Personally, I choose to find entertainment in it. Sure, I could go for the standard "gang vs. gang" model. Or I could plant myself as a new member in one of these groups, then manipulate them into an internal civil war. Or I can ignore them entirely - set my property to use the "admit list" only, and rely on word of mouth to add people to my list. Nothing a wannabe crime lord hates more than being ignored. Except maybe being mocked, which is yet another angle I can take.

Ultimately, of course, we are standing by with a whistle to haul the bad ones out of the sandbox if they can't play nice. Just file the complaint and we'll get to work.

We love social groups in The Sims Online. Knock yourself out. But read the User Agreement and Terms of Service, and obey it by letter and spirit. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the receiving end of one of those in-game complaint investigations.

Latest Similar Story: Interview Round-Up (03/16/06)

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