Advice for Company Policy

Discussion in 'Welcome' started by GameProducer, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. GameProducer

    GameProducer New Member

    I'm the Producer of a small online game. We've had several of our players commit suicide over the years so it is a sensitive issue for us. As of right now, we have a player who claims if she is shut out of the game, she will commit suicide because her character is more important than herself and she only lives for the character. Of course, she is extremely disruptive in the game and normally she would be banned. However, several of our staff fear banning her because she may go through with what she said. And the staff feel angry because they feel she is holding them hostage on their ability to administer the game. We do not believe she is in any imminent threat to herself so calling the police for a wellness check does not seem appropriate (which we've done once before on someone else who is extremely upset that we did). Also, we are not sure who she really is in real life and it would be difficult to track down. My opinion is we should just ban her from the game but I would really really appreciate some advice on what sort of policy is appropriate with this or any similar situation that comes up in the game in the future.
  2. ThePhantomLady

    ThePhantomLady Safety and Support SF Supporter

    It's a very tough nut to crack.

    Before a potential ban, could you direct them here perhaps, so you aren't leaving them out in the cold?
    Would you have to make it a permanent ban, or could you give them an exclusion period in which they could have a chance to seek help?
  3. I can say on here we would ban her because she cannot get real help if she is on here. Also you should consider the safety of everyone not just her. It sounds like she is being really negative towards other people and she could be a danger to others by saying what she is (saying she will kill herself over a game can influence young people to think that that behavior is okay and may copy her).

    It is a hard decision but I think she should be banned so that she can get real help.
  4. Freya

    Freya Loves SF Staff Member ADMIN

    You are not responsible for someone else's life. They are responsible for their own life. If their character is more important to them than their 'real life' then the truth is that the game is incredibly bad for her anyway. If you would have banned her if not for 'being suicidal' then I think you should ban her. I agree with Bipolar Girl that this is not behaviour that you want to be modelled as a way to avoid being banned or for someone to 'get their way'.

    You're not responsible for her safety - you are not responsible for her mental health. I do not know her or the full details of the situation of course, but I do know that if an online game is more important to her than her life then she needs real help from real professionals and, most importantly, she needs to not be playing that game.

    Edit: I do think it might be worth enlisting a mental health professional to take a good hard look at your game - it it is small and you have had several players commit suicide then I think for your own peace of mind, as well as the safety of your players, it is worth having someone take a look to make sure there is nothing in the game play that could be affecting people.
  5. GameProducer

    GameProducer New Member

    Thank you everyone for your comments, it will help us come to a decision.

    I am sure game play is not the issue; rather, these sorts of roleplaying games can be havens for some people who struggle with all sorts of things and are looking for community/escape, though granted that could become an unhealthy crutch (as can any escapism). In any event, one suicide was a very depressed transgendered MTF who had not played our game for years but word got back to us, and the other case was someone struggling with relationship and child custody issues. Both suicides, of course, had an impact on our gaming community. But the cause and effect was demonstrably not connected to the game. Indeed, the reasoning of this particular person (my character is more real than myself) is unique and not a pattern.

    But this brings me to a more general issue, because people play roleplaying games and form relationships with other players, it is easy to feel they can share things from behind the monitor that they have not shared otherwise. And if someone does talk about suicidal feelings to another player, that player freaks out and tells us (the administration). We have published hotlines and places where you can go to get help after one of these incidents. We once called the police for a wellness check on a player (which was very negatively received by that player). Would there be any suggestions of a formal policy to deal with future incidents (which hopefully will never occur again but forewarned is forearmed).
    DrownedFishOnFire likes this.
  6. WildCherry

    WildCherry Staff Member ADMIN

    I think banning this person is absolutely justified. Emotional blackmail is never okay.
  7. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Quieta non movere

    Banning people is sometimes better for the community and by not banning youre simply allowing them to spread negativity and ruin the game for others. Sometimes its needed to be done so you don't lose more customers because of an individual decision to monopolize your company's playtime for their own purpose. If a person explicitly express desire to harm themselves or others then you need to cut the strings loose and contact the authorities if it escalates to anything beyond your scope of control.
  8. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    That would be an instant ban with advice to seek assistance as clearly the game is not safe for her in her current state and a referral of her IP and any coantact information to whatever law enforcement/emergency people in her area by forwarding the threats of suicide to let the professionals decide what direct intervention should be done, but from your end absolutely ban and report would be my advice and what would happen here.