Stephen’s Soap Box – The Banning

The American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke said, “There  is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with  it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the  consequences.” I imagine there are some of you all right now who were wishing that wasn’t true. Welcome to the great banning of January 2014.

Earlier this week, KingsIsle banned (either temporarily or permanently) a significant amount of Wizard101 accounts for taking advantage of an in-game exploit that allowed them to illicitly acquire large amounts of gold. In some cases, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of gold – pet money, mount money, heck, house money, even. There are reports of players having exploited enough gold to buy the most expensive houses in the game.

Let’s start with KingsIsle official statement straight from the Wizard101 Facebook page:

Account Sanctions for Game Exploitation

If it seems too good to be true, it’s probably an exploit.

It’s one thing to pick up a few of the same item and think “hmm something’s not right”
It’s another to pick up a few dozen of the same item. Now you’re getting into a grey area
It’s wholly another to pick up hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of this item – now you’ve slipped into the dark side and are clearly exploiting
It’s this last group that were sanctioned based on the egregiousness of their infraction

Some recent sanctions have been reviewed and reduced.

Please check your email or log in to verify your individual account status.

I understand we’re talking about what is potentially a large part of someone’s life. This is their KI account – the home of wizards they may have worked on for months or even years. The home of wizards they have bought and spent crowns for. The home of identities they carry into the Wizard101 community on places like Central, Facebook, Twitter, and other community forums. It might even be the primary point-of-contact for friends whom those folks may not otherwise have. I feel sympathy for those banned, but that’s not where this ends.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: you all cheated. You discovered a glitch in the game and figured out a way to exploit it for your own personal gain. You created gold that  you did not earn by taking advantage of an error in the game. You folks cheated, full time.

I’ve watched some YouTube videos and read some blog posts by those who have been banned, and the righteous indignation displayed by some of those folks is…let’s just say it’s something. One universal theme in most of these protests points the finger back at KingsIsle; the error was in their game – it’s THEIR fault. Why am I in the wrong? I think we all need to reflect a bit on a kitchen knife.

Let’s say I build kitchen knives. Really good ones. They’re expensive and chefs far and wide praise them for what wonderful tools they are to have in the kitchen. The kitchen knife is intended to cut, slice, dice, chop, julienne, trim, and otherwise disassemble food in the preparation of meals. I think we all agree on that, right? Now let’s say some guy takes that kitchen knife and stabs someone with it. That’s not what I intended it for, sure, but it can be used as a weapon. At that point, the onus of the crime falls on the guy holding the bloody knife. I, as the knife manufacturer, just created a tool to cut onions. It took a conscious decision by that guy to perform an act he knew was wrong.

I refuse to believe those who used this exploit didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. I refuse to believe they thought this was a little trick KI included so that clever players could make heaps of gold without earning it. Those individuals knew what they were doing was wrong, they did it anyway, and they did it A LOT. To be frank, these are people with whom I’m not interested in sharing the Spiral. My advice is to accept that actions have consequences, and to learn and grow from the experience. I am sorry for the unhappy situation those individuals find themselves in, but you made your bed.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other members of the Spiral Radio101 staff.


12 thoughts on “Stephen’s Soap Box – The Banning

  1. I do have to say that I can see some individuals being unaware of what was happening. Even trying to repeatedly press “X” to see if their browser or internet was having an issue. Of course, I’m not sure about the specifics of this glitch, seeing that I was unaffected and even unaware. (Sometimes it pays to be clueless)

    But I’ve argued the same – an exploit is an exploit. Every game will have bugs that allow you to take advantage of them, and every game company will issue consequences for that. That’s pretty clear. What really scares me is that these people call it KI’s fault. Does that mean that when I see those same individuals somewhere like the arena, that they might be willing to abuse another glitch and win through cheating? I’m not very fond of that idea at all. Then, they’re not just taking something from KingsIsle, they’re taking something from me. Anyone who did it once… surely wouldn’t have a problem again.

    I think a lot of the upset is the fact that KingsIsle has received bug reports about this for months now, and has remained completely silent. That’s one thing I have to side with the players on. It doesn’t make the exploit okay, but there are several instances where KingsIsle still has some regulations to clarify, and I’d prefer there not be any grey area. Then they’re also worried that KingsIsle has prioritized this ban over arena glitches and other more harmful actions.

    I definitely don’t think the exploitation is okay, but I can understand the upset from the crowd.

  2. I can’t understand why people get mad at Kings Isle. I mean if they new where the glitches were then there wouldn’t be any! I am one of the people that found a glitch in Pirate101. It was a pretty common glitch were you get two places free. At first I used them but I had now clue that they were glitches. I thought everyone got them! Then my friend told me and I reported it and I didn’t get banned!!!

  3. I agree that the people who were doing wrong (like buying expensive houses with the gold) knew what they were doing. Honestly, when I discovered the glitch all I thought was “do you realize how cool my house could look!?!” I never dreamt of selling the items for gold. But I did immediately realize that grabbing more than one item was not normal and so I left what I realized was probably a glitch alone.
    I’m glad that KI recognized that this is a glitch but it’s too bad they had to announce it along with a bunch of banns.

  4. I know I did the wrong thing but what I only used it a few times never buying a house or anything i didn’t buy anything put of the crowns shop but I am just saying banning is a little harsh because all the players you banned have spent $100+ dollars on the game and I think the temp suspension was much better for me so I have time to reflect on what I did wrong but permanently banning isn’t just harsh but it’s unnecessary because it wasn’t real money and it did really effect people who are attached to the game and I would like to know when it will be lifted because I am looking forward to playing this longer

  5. I do not think the kitchen knife analogy applies. KI’s “knife” was flawed (i.e. there was a glitch to begin with), not the perfect piece of cutlery you suggest. Also the severity of stabbing someone does not equate to stealing “virtual gold”. But as you state virtual stealing is virtual stealing.

    I think KI’s response is insane though. In retail the customer is always right (even when they are wrong), so banning people from getting their W101 fix, while it may satisfy KI’s moral indignation, only tends to antagonize those virtual “criminals” and gives them time to kick their addiction… never to purchase another crown and to bad mouth KI to anyone who will listen.

    A better response would have been to dock each account for the gold that was inappropriately obtained… maybe with some interest. That way in the long run the glitch would not benefit the “virtual criminal”, but they would still be playing (feeding their addiction) and potentially buying and spending crowns.

    But KI is intent on preaching their “gospel”, even though many story lines in the game state that the bosses “CHEAT”. In game cheating by bosses OK. In game exploits by paying customers NOT OK.

    Hopefully their employees can survive on moral righteousness instead of real money.

    • Fantastic response! I applaud the thought that went into it and the eloquence with which it was stated! If you have a blog and have posted this there, I would very much like to point people in that direction. People should read dissenting opinions before forming their own. Thank you for the comment.

  6. My view might be different. Glitches, bugs, and exploits are most likely the coder and admin fault. Before releasing content coders and admin should always check code. On toontown they ban some people for glitches and bugs that were coders and admin fault. While I understand Ki position it was not the best way to deal with things. If anyone going to find the glitch and bugs it going to be the young ones. A side note I believe Ki turned the bans to lower punishment. Sometimes a soft way of doing things is better than allowing drama to happen. Losing customer base.

  7. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses to this. Hearing opinions both for and against the bans, particularly the permanent ones, has made for a fascinating discussions and debate and I look forward to hearing more!

  8. Clicking adds up faster than you think. In Beta, as first, a Balance and, then, a Myth wizard, I was always being asked to make treasure cards. One day, I found a card that was in the Library card purchase section and it didn’t cost anything. I thought it was a freebie for the day. I kept clicking and clicking. I didn’t know it until KIngsIsle told me, but I had over 500 of the cards. It filled up my backpack and stopped me from playing the game. I contacted KI to ask what was wrong with my computer. It was a new aspect for KI that someone would overfill their backpack to such an extent. They actually had to spend a lot of time and do a lot of work on the game to counter someone doing what I did. I couldn’t play until they fixed it and dumped the excess. Thinking about it now, they probably could have dumped the excess from my backpack right then, but making me not be able to play for awhile (not banned but the game couldn’t start because of excess) caused me to learn to watch myself when I might click too much. You know I have a brain injury. I don’t know the passage of time. I didn’t know how long I had clicked. I knew I had enough cards for my friends and to give away to new wizards … BUT 500+, I didn’t know because they didn’t show up as 500+ in my backpack. Bottomline, I should have known that it was odd that there was a free card in the purchase section. What I did was part innocent/part I-should-have known but didn’t. If the wizards knew they were exploiting a bug and bragged about it, then I think banning is justified. If wizards did it but are new to Gaming or for whatever reason they-did-but-should-have-known- better, then banning for long term isn’t justified. As for KI’s part in all of this: 1) Why didn’t they learn from what I did in Beta and prevent anyone from collecting that many items? 2) Why didn’t the Game Monitors spot a bunch of wizards hanging around talking about the bug? You know the pond attendees had to of stopped saying “I need a girl” to “have you heard about the bug?” 3) And lastly, a person’s brain doesn’t mature until after age 21. A kid of 10-14 has many years to live and learn before maturity. KI purposely put themselves into the kid market. The game could have been put out for adults. If you put yourself in the kid market then you should know about kids. And, KI knows about kids. Why is pink items dropped when there are no schools that have pink as a color? Because girls love pink AND girls want to their outfits to match. Originally, wizards had to spend real money to match and have a complete outfit (with the Bazaar you can find items to buy with gold). This is just one aspect of marketing to kids. There are books about Gaming and Marketing … ask your librarian. In conclusion, I am glad that KI shorten some bannings. I noticed they have made it more clear what is wrong to do in the game. I feel that KI should do a quest on the problems of taking advantage of bugs (during the quest have the wizard pick up A LOT of an item and then freeze the game and then have it come up in the message to unfreeze the game you have to delete the items collected, saying also “you, dear wizard, just froze the Spiral for all wizards”). Some wizards were down right BAD, others were naughty, and KI was negligent (especially the Game Monitors … I still want an answer to what they were doing while all this was happening). Just my opinion. Don’t beat me up if your opinion differs.

    • Nobody’s going to beat up on you for sharing your opinion and your personal experience. One thing this has taught me is that while the principle is important and must be upheld, the stories of the players are equally valid and should be considered when enforcing the principle. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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