Late last night, I got out of a really annoying Starcraft game to find several ICQ messages waiting for me from J., Nighthawk, Brules, etc., all saying the same thing… Nighthawk of the Joy of Villainy got banned. WTFMAN? Nighthawk was a notorious PK on Baja, but he was also a highly respected player, ran Joy of Villainy extremely well after Warik stopped running it, and has even been featured in a story by an amazingly popular author! 8P OK, this is strange enough, but then an hour after he is penalty boxed, his tower insta-decays? This not only hoses him, but everyone else who was using the tower for storage and living quarters. (I logged in my Baja ghost after I got the messages, and the area is picked clean. I later found out that the stuff was rescued by Jesus H. Christ, NH’s roommate.) The full story is posted on Joy of Villainy, with some screenshots of GM Boo and Nighthawk in jail.

The technical reason for the banning was stated in this log: Your account was closed for the following: 6/10/99 7:04:45 PM Character: Nighthawk (6575800) World: Baja This player was paged on for harassment. This player was caught saying: (Wed Jun 09 15:22:48 PDT 1999)(Nighthawk) (492052) (6575800): i love bashing jap healers This player was penalty-boxed pending further action.

Aha, one note in which he says "jap"! Surely this is more offensive than, say, all the people I have ever seen saying "suP my nigga" in game, or characters with blatantly offensive names, or GM’s with a hard-on for the banning function. Yes, saying "jap" is certainly grounds for immediately hosing Nighthawk and everyone who lived in his tower. Forget Ronald McDonald’s banning email, which had about 10 notes on it about hacked stats, incessantly paging GM’s to give him hair, and finally ASKING to be banned for 3rd party use. (This was from about March, and unfortunately Ron lost his archives from that month, zzz.) But I digress…

A short time earlier, Nighthawk had the following eloquent exchange with someone who claimed to be a counselor.

Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 21:13:26 -0700 From: Deb Mills usall@home.com Subject: mwahahahahahahaha Hail and well met friend, I am an ultima online the second age player and I am a gm warrior a gm tailorer a gm mage a gm miner and a counciler thats the funny part I`m only 12 years old so I think that the people in mexico working as gm`s are to dam drunk and hung over to care about any of this shit but if you think that if someone is to yough to play then go bom yourself and bom is german for fuck ashlook

Here’s a simple question for an obviously simple person : Do you think I give a shit?

Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 16:39:12 -0700 From: Deb Mills usall@home.com Subject: go to hell ok you mother fucker I am a counciler on baja and I will have your accountr suspened for that

Now for those people who think that no one who types this badly could be a counselor, please keep in mind that even the best counselor I have ever heard of (the guy who helped Kagero and Clove place the keep on Hokuto) spoke in phrases like, "hmm i c" and "this good loc". The fact that the phrase "I cannot help thee with that" is macroed to prevent misspellings may help to mask this pre-literate approach to service. And as for GM Boo…

BTW, Stretch of 7 was also banned on Baja last night. He paged GM Boo when two non-english people were spamming him with "FUCKER" and "Your Mom costs $1". When the gm got there and saw Stretch ask "Is that supposed to be Jap humor?", BAM – he go byebye.

Is GM Boo even capable of reading the chat log that now automatically comes with a harassment call? For that matter, are ANY GM’s? The current rumor is that GM Boo is of Japanese descent and gets very excited about the banning function. For that matter, I am also of Japanese descent, and might be excited about an abusable function on my UO client. I would ban all those whiny players who think the way to roleplay your way through life’s problems was to call GM’s to make the bad man go away. Oh, and 12 year old wiseass counselor wannabes. And GM Boo. And that damn Datura. Someone give me a god client fast!

The inconsistency of the response to these calls is really the problem. For instance, we have this snippet from Suprdave DSS on the JoV message board discussion about banning…

I had a friend get banned because he said "Sup my nigga" to his RL friend in UO. On the reverse Side. I went on Napa at Britain Bank. There was a guy there being a dick, and this was when some new harrassment stuf had gone in. Well, I asked his to shut the fuck up. His response, FUCK YOU NIGGER Spammed over and over FUCK YOU STUPID NIGGER BITCH Well, of course I called a GM on his ass… Know what his response was? "Turn your Obsenity filter on and put this person on Ignore"

Even this is more of a response I have ever seen from a GM. It’s amazing how UO has been overrun with harassment, exploitation, and just amazing amounts of bullshit for its entire existence and the GM’s were nowhere to be seen, and now they suddenly make their presence known with acts of draconian power-mad stupidity. You would think GM’s had something better to do thank stalk around looking for players to ban based on flimsy premises on rules they enforce at their whim. It’s like the cops I used to see in Washington Square Park all the time harassing guys who were drinking beer in public while someone was shouting for help on the next block.

Personally I’m way against this banning, not just because I reflexively mistrust any GM-made decision as being ludicrously wrong on principle, but because unlike me, Nighthawk actually loves UO and helps a lot of players in it. Why can’t I be banned instead of a guy who actually likes to play? Take me instead! I don’t even want my account! Hmm, I should give my account to Nighthawk and see what he can do to make Mu a murderer. My dream come true.

It seems a lot of people are against the banning as well. Already it seems many, many emails are being sent off to the UO account administrators to reverse the banning, and several in-game protests are planned, including an LoD rage party over the weekened, and an "Unban Nighthawk" newbie parade Monday night. I think it would be more fair to have the entire shard restored to Thursday’s backup so Nighthawk can get the tower back. In fact, this is how all OSI screwups should be handled. Of course, that means they would have to restore the backup file for the first day of public release. Even then, I bet the same mistakes would be made. There are no limits to the ability of poor customer support to screw up a gaming experience, especially for those people who actually love the game despite its flaws.

Good luck Nighthawk. You will be back somehow.

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