How does the Ironclaw Online staff deal with player issues that are either impacting other players enjoyment of the game or are violations of ICO rules or Skotos Terms of Service?
First, we must have a discussion on the point of view of all of the staff, specifically the StoryGuides.
- We take everyone’s words at face value. There are no preconceived notions about why someone is doing something.
- Historical interactions with players are documented and while there are no preconceived notions, we do take that history into account.
- We do not judge the player’s personal choices in how they spend their time when they are either within or the Skotos universe.
- Players get the benefit of the doubt.
- It is not in the best interest of the Skotos community (players and staff) for anyone to walk away from a game because their issues were not addressed.
All of that being said, we do document the concerns and issues of players and staffers. There is a database, where we track how were have dealt with issues in the past to include warning, suspensions, and just conversations so that we have facts and are not being arbitrary when we are making decisions on how to deal with players.
Ironclaw Online is designed so that the players can self-report problems with the game itself or interactions with other players involved in a situation. We have found that most people do not wish report on other players or characters, this is human nature. There are various reasons for this, including concern over reprisal. This lack of desire to point out when others are doing something that is inherently wrong has caused problems in the past as typically the issue could have been resolved very early on. The idea that the problem was “not that big a deal” or “someone else will report it” just breeds further problems and allows the issue to continue happening with staff not knowing about it, and not being able to take the corrective action needed.
This is not to say that every wrong thing should be reported to staff. In the case that you do see something wrong it is perfectly alright for you to mention it to a player. We have found that quite often, when a player is saying or doing something that is out of sorts, they either did not even realize they were doing it or had a good intention but had a bad execution. A little proactivity from other players is the perfect solution in MANY cases.
If you feel as though the other player did not understand what you spoke to them about, or that it is something that you do not feel you should say something to a player directly about or is uncomfortable for you please do not be afraid to @assist. Dealing with these sort of issues are exactly why the StoryGuides are here.
When reporting an issue, you need to briefly explain the situation at hand. It is important that if it is at all possible that you have some type of evidence of the situation. You do not need to provide the documentation at the time of reporting but having it available for later conversations is very useful. However, please do not shy away from reporting if you do not have the evidence. Remember that all player concerns are taken at face value. Even though you did not have the log this time, other people may have reported the same problem, so you are helping us to establish credibility.
There are various types of issues that need to be addressed by the StoryGuide staff and the easiest way for staff to deal with things to through documentation so that we are not sorting the ‘they said, they said’ thing. As a player, how do you get prove what you are tell us really happened?
Logs – For those that can USE THE AUTOLOGGING feature, PLEASE do so. We are well aware that not everyone plays from a laptop or desktop and we will address that in the next section but if you have the option, please autolog. Not only does this help you if you ever have an issue with another player or character, it is a good reference to remember other RP things you forgot IE: “Did I really talk to so and so?” After having an initial discussion with a player, the first thing we are going to ask for is evidence and a log is the number one best thing that a player can give us. It clearly shows us what happened, in the order it happened and how they said it. It also helps to protect you…. Let’s say player a says you were being verbally abusive to another player. If you can show us a log, well there is a starting point for us to figure out what really happened.
Other documentation – We know that there are lots of folks on devices (phones, iPads, etc.…) that do not offer logging options. In this instance:
- Take screen shots
- Copy and paste to another document (word, notepad, etc.…)
These are not optimal but any way we can see what is going on is better than nothing. If that is what you have send it and we will work with it.
Documentation outside Skotos– There are times that evidence of other players not doing the right things happened outside Skotos servers. There are many players that talk to each other via Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, texting and many other methods. This is a community and we expect that players will forge friendships and bonds outside the game. If, however, there is wrongdoing going on via these means we will accept any type of logging that you can provide to show us what is going on.
Nuts and bolts; Or, How do we actually fix an issue
- Talk to the player citing the concern. This may be done via pages, bringing a player “backstage” to have a chat or even via email. If we would like to speak with you “backstage” we will always page you first to ensure that you have the time and are not in a scene. We do not want to interrupt RP if at all possible.
- When we are communicating we will ask for further clarification on the problem. This will include asking for any evidence you have of a situation however we do understand there may not be any. If the incident occurred in public, names of other characters that can corroborate what happened are helpful.
- We will then find the person being accused (rinse and repeat step 1). We will firstly explain what the concern is and ask their view of the situation and what happened. It is absolutely essential that if we are speaking with you that you be honest. To start with, it is against the rules to lie to staff but it also allows us to understand what is going on help come to the RIGHT solution to the issue. If we do not have the correct information we will cannot come up with the best possible solution
- We will go back and forth between players as required to sort the scenario. We are not opposed to having both players “backstage” to mediate disputes either.
- Once the concern has been addressed we will provide feedback to the appropriate players. At no time will STAFF tell anyone outside the situation if there were disciplinary steps taken against a player. IE: Player A said Player B was harassing them OOC. After gathering all the info, staff determines Player B should be suspended. Staff shall not tell Player A what the corrective or disciplinary action was nor, will we not share that information with anyone else. As staff, we HIGHLY ENCOURAGE folks to NOT talk about corrective or disciplinary actions inside or outside of the game. All this does is create gossip and poor feelings and will in the long run do nothing to enhance the game which is the goal for all of us.
These are some of the tools that are available to StoryGuides to address problems.
Warning – Oftentimes players are just unaware they broke a rule, were not malicious in their intent, or were caught up in a situation and did not even realize they did something. A warning should be considered a friendly reminder that you made a mistake. This is the most commonly used option and is the preferred resolution for StoryGuides.
Suspension – Suspensions are given when an incident warrants a serious documentable action. They can be for various reasons but are usually the step after multiple warnings having been given however you do not have to been given a warning. Suspensions have two varieties:
Suspension from game play – You are suspended from playing the game for a set period of time. You will not be able to log in or interact with any of your characters. Game suspensions tend to be two weeks but generally do not exceed thirty days.
Suspension from game systems – This would apply if the Staff determined that a player should still be allowed to play a game but their access to a particular system should be limited. This usually applies to a player’s access to the @chat channel but can be applied to any number of other systems as a situation warrants. This type of suspension may be permanent but generally has a time associated with it.
Bans – Bans are not given lightly. To be banned you, generally, must have committed a or multiple offenses and these are substantiated with evidence. Actions that may lead to banning include:
Significant violations of the Terms of Service (ToS)
OOC harassment of players
Habitual abuse of other players or characters.
Intentional abuse of rules and/or guidelines provided by staff
A ban is permanent*, and it is because the players actions have caused a situation which is detrimental to the game overall and are impacting the ability for other players to enjoy the ICO environment. Player bans are reported to Skotos Customer Experience and may be investigated further. Based on the severity of the concern, Staff does reserve the right to move directly to Ban a player for the overall protection of the game.
A word on suspensions and bans – Both of these actions are not taken in a vacuum with the StoryGuide being the judge, jury and executioner. Suspensions and bans are discussed with other StoryGuides and the StoryHost and are agreed upon based on the facts of the situation.
* After a period of six months or more after a ban is put in place, a player MAY request a review of their ban. This request should be sent to the StoryHost or any StoryGuide via the online messaging system on the forums. A review of data that is currently in the ICO system plus any further information that the player would like to present will be reviewed. Review does not mean that a ban will be lifted but gives a player the opportunity to have information reviewed again.
This document is designed to be a guideline for players to understand how Staff views the disciplinary process. The StoryHost has final authority overall disciplinary matters within the game and has the authority to deviate from this guideline however this shall only be done in extreme circumstances.