We’ve heard all the horror stories ranging from just good ol’ favoritism to “female specials.” Nothing is as important to a game as its customer service, and nothing can damage that fragile system more than an internal breakdown of it. In-game support far surpasses the need for out of game support. It’s the front line of customer service, and while it cannot be perfect, there’s definitely much needed room for improvement, currently.
It was bad enough when these were just small MUDs with administrators who would play favorites. Hell, many of us who ran MUDs did it ourselves – They were plentiful, they were ours, and we weren’t asking for money in return – It was acceptable. The remote GM model for Simutronics was a failure in my eyes: These people were remote, and frankly, had pretty much the same lack of consequences that good ol’ grief players did. I was pretty shocked to see the mass-market graphical games adopt this system – it was clear it was not working.
Then we heard about Darwin, and a multitude of other frightening stories. If it wasn’t clear when these volunteers would go postal on the day they decided to quit (a week before they decided to sue), I thought it’d be painfully obvious when people you pay that are in the office were just incapable of handling the raw power that is being a GM, or a Host, or a Guide, or whatever you want to call it.
We’re human. We’re broken.
I’ve always been fond of the system Microsoft/Turbine have in place for Asheron’s Call. Yes, they have volunteers – but they’re limited in powers – Very limited. Granted, it leaves a bit lacking when you lose that special twinkie of bunny slaughter, but it’s the lesser of the evils. They don’t play favorites, because they can’t. I like it this way. Does there need to be a middle ground? Without a doubt. As always, I don’t have the answer, I just have the question (must be some sort of reaction to having the misnomer of “Savant”): What is a system that will work? I don’t know.
What I do know is: I don’t want to hear about how some player got her fetapult of +9 wisdom because she “knows” a GM. I don’t wanna know how someone’s old college buddy got his friends phat lewt. I don’t want to hear about how you were fired because didn’t know how to take a test so now you want blood, dammit.
It’s getting old. The system has failed. People have failed. Kill the damn horse, it’s suffering.