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
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