October 22, 2004
Where Are the Boundaries in Online Games?

An interesting controversy has arisen involving the massively-multiplayer game A Tale in the Desert. (Full disclosure: I played the first version of ATITD for a while, and enjoyed it a great deal.)

The question — “When Does an Online Game Go Too Far?

On Saturday, October 16, 2004, A Tale in the Desert, owned and operated by Andrew Tepper (also known as Teppy and Pharaoh, in-game) of eGenesis, sponsored and condoned a game-wide event that introduced sexual discrimination, upsetting a large portion of female players. The event was known throughout the game as “The Trader Malaki” in which a character named Malaki traveled throughout Egypt trading rare goods. Players lined up,waiting a great deal of time, to trade with Malaki but when a female character’s turn to trade came, she was greeted with comments such as “Who is your master?”, refusing to trade good with her stating that he did not trade with “slaves.” As the event continued, female characters were continually treated to defamatory slurs and sexual discrimination, inciting a riot within the game.

Interestingly, it appears that the game had some other forms of sex discrimination built in as well — but since these were mostly positive discrimination (like female players being able to weave cloth more efficiently than male ones), they never prompted a backlash. It was only when confronted with outright negative discrimination that the players revolted.

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at October 22, 2004
About Your Host

Ant's Eye View is edited by Jason Lefkowitz, a consultant and Web developer in Alexandria, Virginia. Got a question, comment, or concern? Let me hear it!

Obligatory Disclaimer

If you think anything I write here represents the opinions of anybody but myself, you need more help than I can give you. The opinions are all mine, folks. Nobody else's. ESPECIALLY not my employer's.

If that's too hard to understand... well, I'm sorry. There's only so much I can do. I'm not a therapist, and I'm not a miracle worker. (Unless you consider staying employed in this economy a miracle.) I wish I could help you work through your delusional belief that I'm speaking for anyone else but myself. Honestly, I do. But in the end, that's a monkey you'll have to get off your back on your own. Sorry.