Destiny - The Ladder Vigilante

Written by Offsajdh
Sep 16 2011, 8:26 AM EDT

alt text Written by Joel Hakalax

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...”

-- Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797) Irish orator, philosopher, & politician

Earlier in the week, StarCraft II folk hero Destiny chose to fight back. After many months of endless stream cheating and being spammed, the time for chilling had passed. No more of this “Turn the other cheek” hippie crap. The moment for some serious “Old Testament” type justice had come, an “eye for an eye“ kind of exchange.

He amassed his followers and led the flock through a spam campaign to take stream-snipers out of action. Even IdrA temporarily joined the cause, tweeting his own followers to do the same (only to delete the tweet a few hours later). Street justice had arrived to the StarCraft II ladder, celebrations and laughter echoed as the cheaters and harassers were disconnected in game after game. The campaign was successful, and for a day all was well in the world. But then Blizzard, in all its wisdom, chose to ban the vigilantes for seven days.

Luckily, Destiny made it back onto the ladder using his plethora of additional accounts and hosted a charity event alongside fellow Zerg Liquid’Sheth. Together they raised over $30,000 for “Doctors Without Borders” during a 24 hour stream marathon. But alas, Destiny was not the only one who had made it back onto the ladder. The harassers were back, and eager as ever to show the world just how broken their moral compasses were.

During one point in the charity drive, Sheth and Destiny auctioned out a spot to play custom games with them on stream, only to find that the highest bidders were the harassers who had no intentions of donating a cent. It takes a certain kind of person to disrupt a charity event, and although it may not violate a Blizzard policy it sure does violate a code of behaviour that every man of every faith can embrace.

While on “State of the Game” this week, Destiny himself said that he does not have an issue with Blizzard banning him for spamming. The rules are in place for a reason and should be enforced. Him utilizing his fan base to mass-spam those who harass him is no better then a drop-hack he says. But continues to say that he’s a bit sad that none of his own complaints seem to be acted upon.

Liquid’Tyler agreed, stating that Destiny was provoked into performing these actions in self defense. He went on to say that more despicable behaviour was done by those doing the harassment than by Destiny and that he expects more consistency from Blizzard’s side.

“We are a nation of laws, poorly written and randomly enforced.”

Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993) American singer-songwriter & electric guitarist

This leads us to the big picture: In a land where Blizzard is struggling with upholding the law, is it right for us to take it upon ourselves to enforce the rule of law where we see fit, using the few means we have available to do so?

Let us first consider that it might very well be the case that Blizzard is upholding the rule of law. We had a brief stint with drop-hackers that lagged people out of their games, but that was quickly addressed and fixed. Map-hackers have come and gone throughout the years, but they never reached a critical mass to truly be a menace to the community. Blizzard has been on top of its game in these situations, protecting us from the true evils of competitive play. The only place that they really have faltered is in the harassment department, and there’s a good reason for that.

Unlawful software that manipulates the integrity of the service, such as map-hacks and drop-hacks, can be scanned for and detected on a large scale by Blizzard. The proof of a player cheating is right there in the data, black and white. But when it comes to harassment, we are immediately entering a grey plane where judgement calls need to be made on a case-by-case basis. Did what this player say to the other fit the definition of harassment? If so, how grave is the transgression, what penalty is appropriate? All of a sudden we need to browse through chat logs of players and assess a situation. Did they provoke each other, should both get a warning, or should one of them get a free pass?

To some degree, Blizzard put themselves at this strong disadvantage right from the get-go with some weak designs in their Battle.Net 2.0. The fact that Day[9] has to open the maximum 200 chat channels every time he logs on just to prevent himself from being dragged into chat-rooms (of which he has no interest in participating in) is such a profound design flaw that the upcoming fix for it in patch 1.4 is of little comfort. It took them over a year...

But regardless of how forgiving the community has initially proven to be, Blizzard should note that players have now clearly showed that they are prepared to protect each other when Blizzard fails at that task. Unless action is taken to sufficiently allow the prominent players of our community to protect themselves from these “unnecessary job hazards” as iNcontroL put it, then the player and their viewers will get it done on their own. The community watches these players to learn and be entertained by them, but that entertainment and learning factor is greatly diminished when a night is filled with repeated match-ups against someone who openly cheats by watching the stream yet still loses.

“Destroy all that which is evil. So that which is good may flourish.”

-- The Boondock Saints (1999) Action movie

The classic vigilante takes revenge on criminals that the law for one reason or another can’t touch. Usually this revenge is death. In our StarCraft world, the equivalent of death would be a permanent ban, but we have no ability to permanently ban a player from playing StarCraft II, we thus have no power to “kill” the criminals which the law, i.e., Blizzard, has not reached. But we have demonstrated that we can break their kneecaps through the use of coordinated spam. It’s not pretty, but fairly effective. The first kneecaps have been shattered, the wounded criminals cried, and the community laughed. It is by no means an ideal situation, preferably we wouldn't have been here at all. But the vigilantes who were caught by the law and banned for a week are still holding the iron pipe in their hand, contemplating on how far to take this new spark of vigilante justice...

And for that, “il duce” has some words for you: