Saturday, November 6, 2010

I was a Digital Playground Monitor

I've held numerous strange jobs during my tenure in the "Real World" (This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.). I've been an assistant butcher/scab during the strike that went down a few years ago at our local super markets (sorry UFSW), trade show model, and a karaoke DJ, even a professional vidya game tester.

One of the most memorable gigs I ever had was as a digital playground monitor. I signed an NDA, so I can't really tell you exactly who I worked for, or which video game I was a Game Master for but it is/was a fairly successful game from a VERY prominent company. I worked the graveyard shift with a bunch of other fellas doing science into the wee hours of the night.

My role in this company was a part of a crack team of customer service specialists who assisted players with matters that arose while playing in The World. Our duties included the following:

  • Assisting players that had become stuck in the geometry.
Sometimes a player would just run at a wall wrong and get stuck underneath a house, or maybe fall off of a cliff. These calls had top priority, because we didn't want players to get angry and log off or try to do anything scandalous while they were down there.
  • Investigating use of third party tools / cheating
In any game that is played by millions of people you are going to run into hackers that try to bend the rules. So like Cop Drama:
In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
Only it was a bit more like:
In the digital justice system, the players are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the GMs who investigate crime and the Senior GMs who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
So we would spend a lot of time investigating and banning hackers (always Chinese people, we'll get to that later.) and trying to maintain balance and order in a lawless digital realm. Now by hackers I don't actually mean any legit programmers, those are few and far between. Usually you'd find someone who has a program that someone else made that allows them to exploit the rules inside The World. I would find clumps of people performing automated activities (usually fishing) off somewhere in the depths of the ocean. You're not supposed to be able to walk miles off into the sea, or teleport from spot to spot mining minerals. Enough exposition, you get the idea.

Here are some transcripts from memory.

GM: Hail, adventurer! I am GM (CENSORED). How may I assist you this evening?
HowDoIZone: Hi GM! I'm having an awful night. :(
GM: I am very sorry to hear that, what can I do to assist you tonight?
HowDoIZone: Well GM, AwesomePlayer won't stop following me! Every zone I'm in, HE'S RIGHT THERE! He won't stop following me and it is very bad. Sometimes he says things.
GM: I see. I can understand how frustrating this can be. If you do not wish to interact with this player you may choose to make use of the Black list command you can use this by typing (CENSORED).
HowDoIZone: But GM I don't want to use the black list in case he says something about me!
GM: I see. Well then unfortunately there is nothing more I can do to assist you. An adventurer may do whatever he wishes to do in which ever area he chooses to do it, provided he does not violate any of the Terms of Service.
HowDoIZone: But GM! Can't you just ask him to stop, or move him somewhere else?
GM: Unfortunately I am not permitted to interfere in this manner, but I suppose you could try leaving the area you are currently in. Perhaps try teleporting to another area, or choose to exit from a different route so that he can't follow you by sight.
HowDoIZone: Whatever! You GMs don't care about adventurers. You're in league with the (CENSORED: Real Money Traders)!
GM: I hope I was able to help you resolve your problem , Is there anything else I can help you with today Adventurer?
HowDoIZone: Can I have $1,000,000?
GM: No. Thank you for the call, and good luck in your adventures.

This guy was a real winner. In almost every zone or area of the game there are multiple entrances and exits. In fact the area he was in was directly adjacent to a private area that ONLY the player could enter, and upon exiting the player could decide which area to move to. I simply could not understand what was going on with this player, and chalked it up to some kind of grudge. I suppose you would have had to play this game to understand how ludicrous it was for someone to wait 45 minutes to talk to a GM about such a trivial matter that the player could have easily resolved.
PLAYER: HerpDerp

GM: Hail, adventurer! I am GM (CENSORED). How may I assist you this evening?
HerpDerp: HI GM! This is fucking unacceptable. What are you guys doing over there?! I have been calling for 2 hours.
GM: I see. I am very sorry for any frustration this may have caused you. I see you just placed your GM call 10 minutes ago, how may I assist you tonight?
HerpDerp: I have been trying to get a hold of your service center for like 6 hours! It says right on the website the hours are from 8am - 3pm.
HerpDerp: Why won't you guys answer!
GM: I apologize for the inconvenience sir, but since it is currently 2AM PST the service center is currently closed. You may find the hours of operation on our website.
HerpDerp: But its only 10AM! You should be open, I'm not stupid GM I know what time it is.
GM: Sir, our offices are located on the West Coast of North America, and in this timezone it is currently 2AM.
HerpDerp: Timezone? I don't know what you're talking about. I'm in Iran and it is fucking 10 AM! I need to talk to your call center about my bill immediately!
GM: I'm very sorry for any inconvenience sir, but you will have to contact that department during normal business hours. We are unable to assist you with anything other than in game matters.
HerpDerp: ...You fuck you GM.
GM: Thank you very much for the call. Is there anything else I can assist you with tonight?
HerpDerp: FUCK U!!!!!!

I feel like giving a brief explanation of how time zones worked may have been helpful, but seriously. On the company website right by the contact information it clearly stated what time zone we were in next to our hours of operation. We laughed about this for days.

Thanks for reading kids, there should be some lulz back up there somewhere. I've got loads and loads of stories like this. Also be sure to check out the vidyas and subscribe to our youtube chammel so that google thinks we're as cool as this fag.


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