Update: Swifty has released a video since his unbanning thanking people for their support and saying that it “made a huge difference”. Pretty disappointed, but not too surprised. Watch the video here.
The banning and subsequent un-banning of Swifty has been a very hot topic amongst WoW players over the past couple days, and it’s been fascinating to watch different opinions emerge over whether the ban was warranted, how the reversal came to be, and how much Swifty was responsible in the first place for the events that unfolded. And as much as I’m still trying to piece together truth from rumor, I wanted to weigh in on a few points because A) I have a blog and I don’t use it enough, and B) if Athene can swoop in and turn a bit of heated drama into some easy pageviews for his network, then so can I.*
The one thing I actually won’t attempt to state with certainty is whether Swifty should have been banned, or if the ban should have been permanent. As I said before, I wasn’t present at the event and multiple people have stated that he wasn’t in attendance for the complete duration, so I’m not really sure where his leading of the mob spam began and ended. Well, correction: We certainly know where it ended, thanks to his YouTube vid addressing the ban. I do know this, however: If three servers go down because a group of players can’t put facts together and realize that they’re inadvertently ruining everyone else’s day, then Blizzard is probably going to take action, and it’s very hard to take ignorance as a serious response to the problem. Even if Swifty wasn’t there for the entire event, did he know what had happened in the past? Did he continue to propose moving on to a second or third server himself? Was the event specifically being done to promote a third party product? If it was, did that help nudge the discipline in a more serious direction? (And yes, these are real questions I’d like answers to, not just rhetorical speculation.) The problem is, it’s very easy to laugh about a server going down, but it’s not just a simple reboot and resuming life as normal. It’s also responding to a huge spike of inevitable support tickets due to the outage, including lost items and progress. That’s some serious stuff when it comes to time and resources lost that could have been spent on more pressing issues, and shouldn’t be taken that lightly. If you, as a content creator on the internet, make your money by being able to play a specific game, shouldn’t you take precautions to not be associated with behavior that has the potential to put your account at risk? Before claims of hypocrisy come to pass, I’ve participated in fan events in game for Legendary, but it’s only ever been on beta servers with lower turnouts than what was witnessed here, when there wasn’t any planned testing in progress. Other streaming on live servers has been done making precautions to not easily be found or to encourage a large population influx. So it’s something that is thought about before bringing an event online, especially when it’s live on the air.
Anyways, fast forwarding to the real point of this. Swifty gets banned, Athene voices his support, the community gets riled up… and then apparently loses its mind in ways that I am completely crushed to have to witness.
Let’s just cut right to the chase: It was some of the dumber gamer rage that has graced an MMO, even when compared the recent EVE Online riots, given the actual motives stacked side by side. Absolute childish behavior cloaked in the excuse of trying to right wrongs by an apparently oppressive regime when Blizzard took actions to keep its servers from breaking further. It’s one thing to be upset and rage on your own site or forum, it’s a whole different issue when you decide that the enjoyment of the game for others is of lower importance than your own vulgar self-righteousness. If Swifty’s ban caused you to be upset, then the reaction by a subsection of his fanbase (and those who joined in for lulz) should outrage you by a factor of ten. The spamming going on inside the game achieved absolutely nothing but to be a disruption for people who couldn’t care less about the ban, which I had to find particularly interesting considering that a disruption to the game is the whole reason why the ban was made in the first place. Remember the citizens of Vancouver watching as some of its own tarnished the city’s reputation with incredibly dumb riots? We got our own little non-violent microcosm right here for all to see.
Swifty hasn’t posted a video since the ban, but I really hope the next one sets aside a moment to condemn this kind of behavior that was committed in his name. There’s absolutely no excuse for it in this situation, and I’ll bet you all the money in my pockets versus all the money in your pockets that it did nothing to advance the case for letting him off the hook. All it apparently achieved was to cause Blizzard to reexamine its chat system and make fixes that prevent spamming in the future, and while that’s awesome (and probably overdue), I’ll be interested to see if the changes ended up being overkill because they rushed it out, and thus saddled us with an overprotective setup that feels like Slow Mode chat on Justin.tv.
It comes down to this: If you really do want Swifty to succeed and be able to continue down the path of producing content you enjoy, don’t behave like this. You are not helping his or anyone else’s cause. It simply reinforces the stereotype that others in the community work incredibly hard to dispel in the name of making your way of life a bit more accepted and supported. Stop it. This is why we can’t have nice things.