Why Silence Isn't Censorship In Games Like 'Hearthstone'

Apr 20 2014, 7:04am CDT | by

There are few controversial aspects to Hearthstone, Blizzard’s beloved free-to-play collectible card game which recently just saw an iPad release, but one source of contention involves how players interact with each other. Or rather, how they don’t.

Rather than allowing text-based chat between players who aren’t friends, Blizzard has limited interaction to a series of preselected “emotes” for each character. They all are the same categories, but each hero has unique lines. The “Hello” emote for the Paladin is “Well met!” while for the Warrior it’s just “Heh, greetings.” Though the emotes can be used sarcastically (saying “Well played” after your opponent screws up), they limit chat to a few predetermined responses, and toxicity is forcibly removed from the equation as a result.

Polygon’s Ben Kuchera just published a piece about why this is rather great, but found himself facing backlash from Hearthstone fans who equate the system with censorship. The idea is that because of a few trolls, everyone loses the right to speak. “Even one positive conversation would make up for a hundred flamers and trolls,” one fan says.

I strongly disagree.

While mandatory emotes and chat restriction isn’t the best idea for every game, I think it’s certainly right for Hearthstone given the type of game it is. Very often, many Hearthstone games come down to a single card drawn at the exact right moment. It can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for you or your opponent, and leave one of you feeling steamed.

Right now, every time I receive a friend request from someone I just played in Hearthstone, it’s not because they want to discuss how my expert play allowed me the win, and ask how they can improve their game. It’s because they want to call me a “f***ing lucky c***” and there’s no emote for that. In probably 500 games of Hearthstone, I’ve never received a post-game friend request from someone who actually wanted to have a productive conversation. It was always, always flaming, and I learned to just ignore such requests going forward.

But overall, my experience with Hearthstone has been largely positive due to the forced muzzling of toxic players. This is as opposed to say, League of Legends. That’s a great game to be sure, but when every other game devolves into a shouting match about who’s a noob and who threw the game, it’s simply exhausting. In my experience, probably 60-70% of my League of Legends matches have some form of flaming in them, as opposed to 0.1% of my Hearthstone games. It makes the latter a much more relaxing, enjoyable experience.

While League of Legends may need chat in order to effectively coordinate five player teams, the same isn’t true for a game like Hearthstone. There’s no team-based strategy in Hearthstone, and chat would only exist for the purposes of trash talk. And no, one positive conversation would not erase the experience of a hundred nasty trolls. People say that those in favor of the system “just don’t want to get their feelings hurt,” but it’s not that I’m like, personally offended at the insults, it’s just that I’d rather not have my day clouded by that sort of negativity. Some people may thrive on conflict like that (as evidenced on every internet comment board), but that isn’t me, and those sort of interactions do nothing but darken my mood for no reason.

The problem with the gaming community as a whole is that hell is often other people. One nasty player can ruin an entire game for the other nine. Even if it’s just a small percentage of the community, they’re consistently loud, irritating, abrasive and ban-proof, as they simply make new accounts in these free-to-play games. I’m willing to give up my freedom of speech if it means I don’t have to deal with players like that. Obviously, this doesn’t translate across all games, but there are certainly times I wish League of Legends restricted players to Smart Pings, and Call of Duty would auto-mute everyone I play with until the end of time.

It’s not censorship, it’s good game design, and I’m appreciative for it.

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes blog, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Girl-gang members at greater risk of unprotected sex
New York, Aug 28 (IANS) Young girls who join gangs to find their lost freedom are at a greater risk of unprotected sex with multiple partners and substance abuse, says a new study.
 
 
Yawning contagious in wolves too
Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) A new study has suggested that wolves tend to yawn when they see one of their brethren indulging in the act -- just like the humans.
 
 
Junk food kills craving for balanced diet
Sydney, Aug 28 (IANS) A fast food diet can not only make you obese but also reduces your appetite for normal, balanced diets.
 
 
Ancient meteorite provides clues about life on Mars
Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) An ancient Martian meteorite discovered in the Sahara desert may give scientists a clue about the ancient climate pattern of the red planet.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Brazil wants Neymar from Santos: Dunga
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 29 (IANS) Brazil coach Dunga has said he expects Neymar to be fully fit for the Selecao's friendlies against Colombia and Ecuador next month. The 22-year-old missed Barcelona's 3-0 victory over...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Udinese sign Brazilian midfielder Evangelista
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 29 (IANS) Udinese have completed the signing of midfielder Lucas Evangelista from Brazil's Sao Paulo. The 19-year-old was sold to the Italian Serie A outfit for 4,000,000 euros, Xinhua cited from...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ed Sheeran finds Miley Cyrus 'fantastic'
Los Angeles, Aug 29 (IANS) Singer Ed Sheeran says he finds pop star Miley Cyrus "fantastic" even though she was captured on camera mouthing an expletive at him at a recent music awards ceremony. She called him "a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lana Del Rey to record Bond theme?
Los Angeles, Aug 29 (IANS) Singer Lana Del Rey is in talks to record the next James Bond theme. Producers of the franchise are reportedly considering the "West Coast" singer to provide vocals for the next "James Bond...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
100 immigration activists arrested in front of White House
Washington, Aug 29 (IANS/EFE) Police arrested more than 100 immigration reform activists Thursday in front of the White House as they demanded the relief for the country's 11 million undocumented foreigners, who are at...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Tracy Morgan having 'tough time' after car crash
Tracy Morgan is having a ''tough time'' recovering from his injuries following his car crash in June. The 45-year-old actor suffered a broken femur, broken nose and broken ribs when a Walmart truck crashed into the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban filmed daughter's birth
Nicole Kidman has revealed Keith Urban filmed the birth of their first child. The 47-year-old actress admits her spouse, whom she married in 2006, captured their six-year-old daughter Sunday's first cry as she entered...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jennifer Aniston tastes Jimmy Kimmel's wife's breast milk
Jennifer Aniston has tasted Jimmy Kimmel's wife's breast milk. The 45-year-old actress and the TV host were talking about his new baby daughter Jane on his show 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' when the former 'Friends' star...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Joan Rivers in 'good spirits' night before respiratory arrest
Joan Rivers was in ''good spirits'' the night before she was rushed to hospital following respiratory arrest. The 81-year-old comedienne appeared ''absolutely fine'' as she attended a meal at the Amaranth Restaurant in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Areas under militants control in Iraq needs immediate aid
United Nations, Aug 29 (IANS) The United Nations Thursday said that there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance in Iraqi areas sieged by the Islamic State militants. "The World Food Programme (WFP), which has...
Read more on Politics Balla