Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game



  • So, there was a mess about sexual harassment and staff heavy handedness on United Heroes Mush in the past months. Maybe I should let it go.

    I made the account to talk about this, so I obviously have an axe to grind. My characters lost friends and I lost friends in the recent drama on the game, so I started asking questions, keeping my ears open, and just piecing things together.

    I thought I would let you know what I dug up.

    I read some logs and listened in the lounge. I read that James Proudstar tells Jean Grey that Emma Frost raped him. It gets glossed over in the log, which is super telling to me. James Proudstar was the Alt of a very pro-staff player. He quit the character like two weeks after the scene. His player is still around, but he is hardly on channels like he used to be. Emma Frost was outed as a staff alt- Ditko.

    I have been exposed to a little of Ruby and Claremont. They seem like good enough people. There is no way Ruby is as naive as she acts, which puts me off a little, but if she is hiding something, it is deep. Claremont is a harder read. I just get the impression off him he is a bit controlling, or he is the sort of guy who talks about 'branding' a lot. Zero proof. Since I have no proof, I'm going to default to clueless or covering for their friend, or being manipulated.

    The game has good 'bones'. It seems that there is one bad staffer who is ruining the mix. That, and the apparent rampant paranoia the staff has.

    Things they could change.

    1. Every faction seems to be run by a staffer. I guess that is one way to execute a vision.
    2. Why the hell is every member of staff on every channel? It's really very creepy and big brother-esque.
    3. They can pull up every page or whatever they want anyways? Is it an intimidation tactic?
    4. Fire Ditko. He's a hack and an asshole who hasn't contributed to the game in any way other than play a bad Emma Frost and apparently shag and/or possibly rape player characters. Which is the sort of classy thing for a known/outed staff alt to do. because we saw how well it went when other people complained to staff? Anonymity and control amount to a lot of power when combined together.

    I think Ditko is none other than Blue (Calmwater?); everyone's favorite rapey ex-head-wiz of Brave and the Bold, Ravenswood, and other games that I cannot recall right now. It would make sense. Sexual harassment charges, staff covering up for him, telepaths, busty characters, bad roleplay, and rape. All of them are his calling cards. It it isn't, it is someone doing a hell of an impression of him.

    I edited out a lot of my methodology. I am worried I will lose my characters for saying anything. It's a shame that a good game is being ruined by one person.


  • Admin

    @inspectergadget said in Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game:

    The game has good 'bones'. It seems that there is one bad staffer who is ruining the mix. That, and the apparent rampant paranoia the staff has.

    I am worried I will lose my characters for saying anything. It's a shame that a good game is being ruined by one person.

    I just wanted to single those two statements out to point out the obvious; if you might lose your characters for speaking up about abuse then the game does not in fact have good bones, and the problem is caused by more than one person.


  • Pitcrew

    Will have to second what @arkandel said. Sounds like the foundation of the game is rotten to the core. The game no doubt had good players on it and good people. But all the good people in the world can't save a game when the staff core is rotten and corrupt. Good people just delay the inevitable of the game.

    Also players may get a pass for turning a blind eye on ignoring or averting their gaze from all the abuse that is happening as they are there to have fun and wish to focus on their little areas, not to be burdened by the extra bullshit. But anyone on staff has no excuse. Inaction or purposeful ignorance by staff is bad staffing.



  • @inspectergadget said in Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game:

    I read some logs and listened in the lounge. I read that James Proudstar tells Jean Grey that Emma Frost raped him. It gets glossed over in the log, which is super telling to me. James Proudstar was the Alt of a very pro-staff player. He quit the character like two weeks after the scene. His player is still around, but he is hardly on channels like he used to be. Emma Frost was outed as a staff alt- Ditko.

    Yikes.



  • I'm not trying to be all "if you don't like it you should make your own game," but this - to me - is a situation where a GOMO is maybe the best course of action if you want to retain the playerbase and tell similar stories in a non-insane/abusive atmosphere. The problems that've been aired on this board seem to go beyond one person and speak to a staffing atmosphere that's toxic.


  • Pitcrew

    @inspectergadget said in Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game:

    Why the hell is every member of staff on every channel? It's really very creepy and big brother-esque.

    I do want to note that this is not terribly uncommon. Usually on smaller games, but I see it in a lot of places.

    Now, maybe not private faction channels (like a Werewolf pack on a WoD game), but every major/public channel. In theory, it should help Staff to identify issues as they arise. 'Oh hey this player is harassing people.' 'Soandso is badmouthing other people on the game to his faction.' etc.

    I personally don't join every channel when I Staff because I hate spam, but it can be beneficial even for players. Players of a faction being able to go 'Hey, we'd like to discuss this as a group.' or posing a theme/setting/rules question to their group and oh hey the person who knows is right here to answer.

    All that said: people should leave this game, en masse. Make a point to Ditko and the rest of staff. By continuing to play, you're giving leeway for Staff to go 'Well, it can't be that bad if they're still here.'


  • Pitcrew

    Yeah, I don't see/have a problem with staff being on all channels. That's not bad behavior, it's good behavior.



  • Not to be political, but one would think with all of the recent Weinstein news that this should shed light on that kind of behavior on games.

    The number of people who have come forward with harassment/rape/sexually aggressive behavior on that game seems to have resulted in similar results as we see in the news: Either due to staff privilege the incidents are being hand-waved "Oh, sorry, Brett Ratner just does that from time to time.", or people aren't being as vocal as they should due to fear of retaliation/humiliation via public discourse.

    It should be the utmost concern to all staff to protect their players from aggressive behavior in both the staff and the playerbase. Who provides X amount of plot, activity, +job clearing, etc should never leverage whether or not action should be taken.

    So, to wrap this up, I think one needs to ask whether or not this is an instance of staff downplaying certain behaviors due to allegiance to Ditko. Since it's been proven that Ruby went into mail accounts to make edits, it should be very clear the level of intrusion the staff culture is comfortable with over allegations.

    So, like working for Miramax, it seems the option presented is to fight them on it or shut up and take the RP. Either way, they are the gatekeepers for your login to those particular servers and you can be silenced as they desire.

    It's up to the individual to decide whether or not they're comfortable socializing in that kind of environment.



  • They also had a thing there of just auto-joining bits to ALL the channels, of which there were far too many, and letting you mute/leave them as you liked. I would often have channels I didn't know existed, like Anime or Sports, suddenly pop up because I never bothered to look around and see that they existed and I'd be like WTF WHY AM I ON THIS? Meanwhile, you might be a team member and not get added to the roster channel for ages or at all if nobody bothered to get around or you didn't request it.

    There's a lot of odd stuff there, frankly, above and beyond the abusive bullshit.


  • Admin

    @shaggy Out of curiosity, are we only talking about public channels here?

    For example on many MU* there are group-based channel (your coterie, pack, etc members all have access to a private channel). It's really creepy if staff are on that one.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel They did join the channels of personal group channels. Like not even the main ones like Avengers or Justice League, but the channels of people who made 'OC teams,' so to speak. I was in one where, barely an hour after we got our group set up and started talking on the channel, a few staffers suddenly talked on the channel too as if to remind us they were there.


  • Admin

    @rifter Yeah, that's creepy.


  • Coder

    @arkandel said in Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game:

    For example on many MU* there are group-based channel (your coterie, pack, etc members all have access to a private channel). It's really creepy if staff are on that one.

    I think it depends on whether "the group" is private or public. Like... if there's a Viper Pilots channel it doesn't seem strange for staff to be on that. If it's a "Bob and His Friends" channel then yeah - that seems rude and creepy.

    (I mean that as a general observation, not intending to dismiss or downplay any of this game's obviously beyond-the-pale behavior.)



  • @arkandel said in Fixing United Heroes- Too bad we cannot talk about it on the game:

    @rifter Yeah, that's creepy.

    I disagree personally, I find it more of a culture thing. I was stunned how mean spirited, unwelcoming and flat out rude channels were on the first WoD game I played, and it was a tremendous difference from the first game I played where staff was routinely in all channels. I'm firmly against any unmoderated, adult or no-holds-barred channels, and am convinced they make every game with them worse by their presence. I think they are a terrible idea.



  • I'm down with staff keeping an eye on channels and other game-sanctioned outlets. Otherwise, they run the risk of passively condoning things like shit-talking, bullying, general toxicity, etc.


  • Admin

    @apos As far as I'm concerned a group-specific channel is just shorthand for paging multiple people; instead of customizing my recipients for every member who's online at the time (or I risk getting "No one to page" errors) there's a channel for convenience's sake.

    You obviously wouldn't expect to have direct access to the pages, which the channel is an extension of.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel I don't think the channels are at all just an extension of pages; that's a you thing, not a culture thing. @Apos is right. There is a lot of blah blah involved here with mental weight related to permanency and ease of use that really isn't worth going into, but channels are not pages, even when they're for player made factions. The way that the do actually end up being used, it is absolutely appropriate for staff to monitor them. The behavior that people seem to think is OK when staff isn't watching on these channels OFTEN turns into terribleness. Commiseration spirals are a thing, and people who will call that out are not so plentiful that they exist on every private channel.


  • Admin

    @sunny Please note that what I'm talking about is group, not faction channels.

    How should I put this... think coterie and not Covenant. When I brought up private channels they weren't meant to ever have more than 4-5 members, all closely knit.

    Dunno if it changes your mind, but just to clarify.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel

    Group = faction = org = etc., the distinction is more player made vs staff made than what word is used to refer to it. Different games use different words for it, and very few games have both and make a distinction between them. A channel is still permanent, whether 3 people are using it or 12. ESPECIALLY when we are talking about those channels that people join/leave without staff involvement (okay you can totally join my super sekret club just addcom sun=SunnysFriends), staff monitoring is pretty important. These things turn into pits for bullying quicker than shit the moment you get a bad actor involved. Channels are where a LOT of the problems with Spider / the Pillowfort Group / etc. start/come in to play/etc.

    ETA: I should point out, I make this observation as someone who will generally not play somewhere that players are not allowed to have semi-private faction/org/group channels. They are not just SUPER helpful, but I think they're actually vital -- for a LOT of reasons. I firmly believe though that staff needs to actively keep an eye on these for appropriate behavior, because it's...mrm, I don't know. Weakest link? Easiest to abuse? Something like that. It's a proven trouble spot that crosses genres and even formats, really.



  • I come from environments where I'm comfortable - and expect - staff to be on most channels and responsive to issues that crop up on them as they arise. I do think this is largely a cultural thing.

    It's also the least of United Heroes staff's ethical problems. They're allowing a known harasser to remain on staff and using the suspect flag/reading players mail communication to ferret out people saying mean things about them. None of this is normal or OK, to my mind, and I don't want to venture down the more normal "staff is on channels and some players side-eye this" rabbit hole. And, again, I don't see any of these as fixable problems without a complete house-cleaning staff-side. The most constructive advice I can offer is: figure out how much you're willing to put up with and walk away when that point is surpassed.


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