Little Big Mess

Sean Sands | 14 Nov 2008 13:30
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

So, what we really lack at this point is a clear indication of from where the decisions about moderation and deletion of user content are coming. But, for consumers that really isn't the issue, and while I have my own suspicions on the matter, the lack of communication in total is the insult added to the injury of summary deletions. Not only is it a dramatic over-reaction to a problem that doesn't exist, it also is a slap in the face to creative users who invest hours or days into their effort.

In an industry already walking the line on being openly hostile with its consumers, it's hard to perceive the actions of Sony or Media Molecule with much sympathy. Regardless of who is ultimately at fault behind the fortress that has been erected around Little Big Planet, the fact that edicts are being delivered as if from on high isn't just a detriment to the overall mood of gaming consumers. It is a death sentence for a brilliant game.

You can not with one hand encourage customers to engage in creative exercises that demand significant assets of time and effort, and then with the other hand wipe those efforts out of existence with no recourse and expect a community to thrive. I respect the need for insulation from costly litigation, and lord knows IP lawyers for globally recognized properties probably spend large chunks of their day just hunting around for people to sue, but in a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of world you could do far worse than keeping players informed and aware of where the line is drawn.

I sympathize with the frustration publishers and developers must feel in the inconsistent messages being sent by a judicial system that hasn't really figured out how to reconcile traditional thoughts of intellectual property with the digital age. And, I realize that there is the need for some patience if we want to see game makers continue to pursue involving consumers in content creation, which is why I am not saying that Media Molecule or Sony needs to keep their hands out of gamer created levels.

What I am saying is that the cone of silence is a disservice to everyone. Figure out where the lines are drawn, build a cohesive message and begin letting Little Big Planet fans know where you stand and what they can expect. I know that were I creatively minded, there's no way I would consider wasting hours or days on an ingenious level only to risk seeing it deleted without comment. For a game built upon user-generated content, that's a bad kind of opinion to engender.

Sean Sands is the co-founder of gamerswithjobs.com and a freelance games writer who was sincerely disappointed to find his LBP level "Luke and Leia Make a Porno" deleted ten seconds after completion.

Comments on