Editor's Note: The Dick Tax

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The Dick Tax

Valve's proposal for weeding out obnoxious players is nothing less than a tyrannical dick tax.

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Won't the definition of a good and bad player be subjective to public opion though? It's an interesting idea but I'm not so sure about how it will be executed and moderated.

I'm guessing with the "Dick Tax", Gabe's trying to weed these guys out.

But it raises more questions than answers, imo. It's community-based, which is always a bad idea online (see: trolls), and yeah, there'll always be those guys in the middle, who aren't overly dickish but aren't actively nice who'll somewhat ignored. Kind of like an exclusive club that you can only join once you've passed the test and been noticed by your peers and then initiated in.

Like a clan/guild.

I like the naivety of Gabe. I'm not sure if he was totally serious with that, because he's a smart man. He should know that what he described is a completely unreasonable world.

Oh, I don't know. For starters, about the only way to either prove or disprove the Utopia Theorem would be to test it, which is exactly what Valve is doing. And let's face it, if someone in the game industry is capable of thoroughly and objectively examining real worth of such a system, it's these guys. Valve is known for extremely involved approach to development in just about anything they do. I have no doubt they will take a look at all your concerns, and more.

I ask, why not? It's science, basically. You need data, the more the better. You assume much and many things in your article, but they will go out in the field and see how well your predictions match the reality. There is a damn lot of knobs that can be turned to fine-tune the end effects, and the Steam is a very unique tool that allows for that. In fact, not using it to experiment would be a damn shame. We are very lucky to have such inquiring minds at the helm of this powerful social network. We can only learn from this.

I don't see the harm, really, as long as they do not corrupt their Steam with a half-baked system. And again, this would not be a Valve thing to do.

While I'm all in favor of dicks being fucked, I can see how this system could be broken real fast.

I don't know about the whole forcing people to change bit. If someone doesn't want to pay full price they could just not act like an asshole while they're playing. But they would still BE an asshole in real life. I know it's not going cause an epiphany or anything, but it would be a good motivation for people to control themselves.

So, people who are popular get freebies, while people who are unpopular or infamous pay more money for the service? That's like a restaurant that charges you money if you don't tip them well enough. Ludicrous.

I think I'm generally a nice player online. I give advice to individuals when they need help in an MMO, and I always play support classes/roles in TF2 and other similar games. I've only rage-quit once, when a player was obviously using an aim hack with a sniper rifle (i.e. in Halo, headshotting 4 people in completely different directions in 1 second). However, I'm not really good at being part of a large community and I think that the hats are stupid, so despite the kind of player I am, I would never get any benefits. That is stupid.

Wouldn't a better solution be to let players report hateful players, write a complaint report to Valve, who will then contact the player/review the conversation in question? Of course not, that would make too much sense. Also, there's no way to make money from that model.

Plain and simple, like so many hats, it's another way for Valve to make money. Making money isn't a bad thing, it's just that this does not seem to be optional. As much as I love TF2, I think I'm going to stop playing until this thing blows over.

Removing half your market by upping the price of a product some can't afford as it stands is bad enough. Removing them by asking for money they don't have and calling them an asshole while you do it?

I hope they do use this system and I hope it fails. There. Charge me more for that.

I believe Valve's plan is not so much on the consequence but on the prevention - I think the plan might be more to discourage people from being dicks and instead keep their trollish or dickish nature on the low down while playing games for fear of getting charged more.

When you think about it its no different from asking people to behave when they visit an arcade - you can have arguments, you can complain about getting beat and so on but if you start shouting at people and yelling names then you can expect to get ejected from the arcade and possibly never allowed back. Its that consequence that encourages people to behave a bit nicer in public places.

The biggest flaw though is that people are faceless on the internet and its all too easy to speak your mind without worrying about consequence at the moment. Blizzard tried that horrendous ID scheme, believing that by providing real names it would somehow encourage people to be nicer but that failed.

I think going as far as to adjust game prices though is a bit much. I prefer the method that Shift 2 is currently using in its online matching - players who keep ramming each other and driving overly aggressive start to get paired with other rammers over time while players who like to drive cleanly get paired with other clean drivers. If you expand that concept to the Steam community you'd start to get the utopian environment Gabe wants while still allowing everyone to play the games for the same price (and effectively get paired with like minded people).
Its still not a perfect plan by far, but I think its better than charging more for games that are, lets be honest, already overpriced.

Santa216:
I don't see the harm, really, as long as they do not corrupt their Steam with a half-baked system. And again, this would not be a Valve thing to do.

The obvious harm is that they piss off half their customer base who then go shopping elseware. Enacting a plan like this is a surefire way to help your competition, you know what I actually think they should do this.

Dulcinea:
Removing half your market by upping the price of a product some can't afford as it stands is bad enough. Removing them by asking for money they don't have and calling them an asshole while you do it?

I hope they do use this system and I hope it fails. There. Charge me more for that.

So your argument is that...wait, what? I'm sorry, I'm actually struggling to work out what you're complaining about this time. Do you mean that you're pissy that Valve are ostracising the less desirable parts of its audience simply for being dislikeable? Because...that's the exact reason I support it.

There are consequences to being an asshole in real life. I don't see why virtual lives should be any different. Only, I think it should be a subscription-type deal. That way, there IS encouragement to change. Let's say you pay for all the features you lost for being a dick. Now, you have incentive to be a dick, because you've paid for it.
However, if you lose all that stuff again because you've spent a month being even more of a dick, you now have a drain on the wallet. That drain can be cut off simply by playing nice. However, going purely off of player reviews or something will be a pain in the ass. Nobody goes out of their way to give a favourable review. Perhaps if you can stay below a certain amount of negative reviews...or some system like that.

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:
Removing half your market by upping the price of a product some can't afford as it stands is bad enough. Removing them by asking for money they don't have and calling them an asshole while you do it?

I hope they do use this system and I hope it fails. There. Charge me more for that.

So your argument is that...wait, what? I'm sorry, I'm actually struggling to work out what you're complaining about this time. Do you mean that you're pissy that Valve are ostracising the less desirable parts of its audience simply for being dislikeable? Because...that's the exact reason I support it.

There are consequences to being an asshole in real life. I don't see why virtual lives should be any different. Only, I think it should be a subscription-type deal. That way, there IS encouragement to change. Let's say you pay for all the features you lost for being a dick. Now, you have incentive to be a dick, because you've paid for it.
However, if you lose all that stuff again because you've spent a month being even more of a dick, you now have a drain on the wallet. That drain can be cut off simply by playing nice. However, going purely off of player reviews or something will be a pain in the ass. Nobody goes out of their way to give a favourable review. Perhaps if you can stay below a certain amount of negative reviews...or some system like that.

Luckily you are in the minority on that, and Valve, being a business and wanting money, will fold to the majority.

The status quo is ever so.

Thank you, Mr. Pitts, for pointing this out. I think of myself as a pretty amiable player to play with, but I find this idea of charging people according to their nature singularly revolting. I know that--if--I won't be affected by this system too much, I will stop using Valve's excellent service.

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:
Removing half your market by upping the price of a product some can't afford as it stands is bad enough. Removing them by asking for money they don't have and calling them an asshole while you do it?

I hope they do use this system and I hope it fails. There. Charge me more for that.

So your argument is that...wait, what? I'm sorry, I'm actually struggling to work out what you're complaining about this time. Do you mean that you're pissy that Valve are ostracising the less desirable parts of its audience simply for being dislikeable? Because...that's the exact reason I support it.

There are consequences to being an asshole in real life. I don't see why virtual lives should be any different. Only, I think it should be a subscription-type deal. That way, there IS encouragement to change. Let's say you pay for all the features you lost for being a dick. Now, you have incentive to be a dick, because you've paid for it.
However, if you lose all that stuff again because you've spent a month being even more of a dick, you now have a drain on the wallet. That drain can be cut off simply by playing nice. However, going purely off of player reviews or something will be a pain in the ass. Nobody goes out of their way to give a favourable review. Perhaps if you can stay below a certain amount of negative reviews...or some system like that.

Luckily you are in the minority on that, and Valve, being a business and wanting money, will fold to the majority.

The status quo is ever so.

Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

Dark Harbinger:
Won't the definition of a good and bad player be subjective to public opion though? It's an interesting idea but I'm not so sure about how it will be executed and moderated.

Ya that's what I am thinking. Trolls are Trolls. If you are being bad to be bad people may like you for that. So dicks may dick up the system by feeding each other popularity. Think of points boosting servers but instead its popularity boosting servers.

This was a well done article.

This will ruin Steam for me. If people abuse multiplayer games and get punished for it that's not my problem, but if people will be able to pay less than me just because they are popular I'll start buying games at D2D.

I think you are massively missing the point here Russ. For all of your BS philosophical rambling, people are not asking for a utopian internet society. People are simply asking for an online environment wherein they are not the targets of racist and homophobic slurs.

I play with friends online all the time. Its competitive as all hell and plenty of f-bombs are dropped. There is a difference between that kind of environment and one which enables, indeed, promotes griefing.

We are not asking that people change themselves, we are simply asking for people to have some god damned self-control. You would not go to a soldier's funeral and fuck the corpse (unless you belong to the Westboro Baptist Church), so why should similar behavior online have no consequences?

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

Thyunda:

So your argument is that...wait, what? I'm sorry, I'm actually struggling to work out what you're complaining about this time. Do you mean that you're pissy that Valve are ostracising the less desirable parts of its audience simply for being dislikeable? Because...that's the exact reason I support it.

There are consequences to being an asshole in real life. I don't see why virtual lives should be any different. Only, I think it should be a subscription-type deal. That way, there IS encouragement to change. Let's say you pay for all the features you lost for being a dick. Now, you have incentive to be a dick, because you've paid for it.
However, if you lose all that stuff again because you've spent a month being even more of a dick, you now have a drain on the wallet. That drain can be cut off simply by playing nice. However, going purely off of player reviews or something will be a pain in the ass. Nobody goes out of their way to give a favourable review. Perhaps if you can stay below a certain amount of negative reviews...or some system like that.

Luckily you are in the minority on that, and Valve, being a business and wanting money, will fold to the majority.

The status quo is ever so.

Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

I think its unfair to call something a success when psychology tells you it wont be. Once someone start trending bad they will probably keep trending bad and will be more liable to hate people at the top of the good ladder.

mcnally86:

Thyunda:

Dulcinea:

Luckily you are in the minority on that, and Valve, being a business and wanting money, will fold to the majority.

The status quo is ever so.

Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

I think its unfair to call something a success when psychology tells you it wont be. Once someone start trending bad they will probably keep trending bad and will be more liable to hate people at the top of the good ladder.

Then they can pay Valve extra to enjoy the game. They can hate all they want, but the more vocal that hate is, the more money they'll have to keep pouring in. Surely you don't think people are stupid enough to bring this on themselves on purpose?

However, I do also think it can't be too strict. And you can't just slap price tags on people just because they get reported. I HATE that.

Besides, if people boycott it, Valve just turn it off. They haven't really lost anything major...since by the time they start losing large portions of their audience, they ought to be quick enough to turn off the problem and let them all come back.

You know...it's funny that the Depeche Mode song in fact does NOT talk about self-interest as the guiding principle for all people in general. It moreso talks about how our *DIFFERENCES* are the driving force for our conflicts and about how we'd rather not learn to be different (and change or understand another point of view) but how we'd rather remove offending different things, including other people, from our lives for the sake of our personal comfort or validity of our beliefs (like say...thinking self-interest is the guiding force for all people).

People are people not because of self-interest, like this article seems to make a beautiful leap of logic. People are people because, in spite of all our cultural differences, what seems to be universal is that we, not on an individual level necessarily but on a mass group level, are intolerant of other people different from us.

But yeah sure - I guess everyone likes to jump onto the 'people are shit' bandwagon around these parts and ignore the fact that self-interest is primarily propagated only in western cultures rather than say...certain eastern based ones where you have millions of people that have been taught to believe that self sacrifice is worth far more.

People can exist just fine wether or not they are taught nothing but self-interest or self-sacrifice, even to the point where either extreme becomes harmful. But people will always be people because, the bigger the number of our crowds, the more intolerant we become of our collective cultural differences. A good case in point is how the Escapist community as a whole has grown more and more intolerant the more popular and numerous it has become, up to the point where in many ways it has become blind to this intolerance of outside opinions and actions. The same goes for game developers with mostly respectable reputations too, like Bioware and Valve. I like both of them, but I cannot stand their communities - primarily because they have grown completely intolerant to all other alternatives.

Funnily enough this still translates to Valve's move. As the ones they percieve to be dicks (wether they actually are such or not) slowly stop paying and playing, their community will grow more and more insular and hence, once again...intolerant of all other alternatives...and thus their 'ideal customers' will ultimately, and on the whole, grow to be dicks themselves. Perhaps elitist dicks...but dicks nonetheless. ;) It would instead be a lot better to be moreso subtle than just slapping on extra monetary costs, but eh...I guess this time Valve decided not to be subtle. Their loss.

That's ultimately what the song refers to for me moreso than the overtly-simplified 'people are shit' version. But believe what you will I guess.

matrix3509:
I think you are massively missing the point here Russ. For all of your BS philosophical rambling, people are not asking for a utopian internet society. People are simply asking for an online environment wherein they are not the targets of racist and homophobic slurs.

I play with friends online all the time. Its competitive as all hell and plenty of f-bombs are dropped. There is a difference between that kind of environment and one which enables, indeed, promotes griefing.

We are not asking that people change themselves, we are simply asking for people to have some god damned self-control. You would not go to a soldier's funeral and fuck the corpse (unless you belong to the Westboro Baptist Church), so why should similar behavior online have no consequences?

I'm sorry are you familiar with the internet? Self control is damn near utopian. Also what if a little kid joins your f-bomb server and the dad walks in hearing you guys. He gets mad and the kid says its your fault, now you guys all get a bad points as the dad starts reporting you all. One of your friends is pissed so he gets in a shouting match with the dad. Now the kids account has huge bad points (that his dad got for him) and so does your buddy. Now your buddy wont play that game anymore because he objects to the dick tax and doesn't want to pay more than you guys to play that stupid game.

HankMan:
...Said something without a punt...

To be more on topic, I don't see how this can work for most model on how to apply that are all exploitable.

I can only only bad things happening. I don't know exactly how Valve is with security but the whole "We hack because we are for free speech" could put a damper on Steam. After all, the giant that is Sony felt that whiplash.

I think valve is making a mistake by doing this, as it will make assholes even worse and may even increase their numbers

It will end up like this:
Liked guys like eachother and pay little to none for online games.
Disliked guys or guys who have a zerg of self adoring pricks against them just leave "valve's perfect world"

The Longevity of such a project shouldn't exceed 2 weeks.

But sure, let em waste cash. It's not as if I'd pay for a uneven gameplay even if I had those 200 friends to hug with.

I just hope that if Valve puts this idea into practice, there will be scientists around to study it. It already sounds like Newell wants to use his clients as lab rats, so why not share the results with the rest of humanity.

Loonerinoes:

Giest4life:
Thank you, Mr. Pitts, for pointing this out. I think of myself as a pretty amiable player to play with, but I find this idea of charging people according to their nature singularly revolting. I know that--if--I won't be affected by this system too much, I will stop using Valve's excellent service.

You know...it's funny that the Depeche Mode song in fact does NOT talk about self-interest as the guiding principle for all people in general. It moreso talks about how our *DIFFERENCES* are the driving force for our conflicts and about how we'd rather not learn to be different (and change or understand another point of view) but how we'd rather remove offending different things, including other people, from our lives for the sake of our personal comfort or validity of our beliefs (like say...thinking self-interest is the guiding force for all people).

People are people not because of self-interest, like this article seems to make a beautiful leap of logic. People are people because, in spite of all our cultural differences, what seems to be universal is that we, not on an individual level necessarily but on a mass group level, are intolerant of other people different from us.

But yeah sure - I guess everyone likes to jump onto the 'people are shit' bandwagon around these parts and ignore the fact that self-interest is primarily propagated only in western cultures rather than say...certain eastern based ones where you have millions of people that have been taught to believe that self sacrifice is worth far more.

People can exist just fine wether or not they are taught nothing but self-interest or self-sacrifice, even to the point where either extreme becomes harmful. But people will always be people because, the bigger the number of our crowds, the more intolerant we become of our collective cultural differences. A good case in point is how the Escapist community as a whole has grown more and more intolerant the more popular and numerous it has become, up to the point where in many ways it has become blind to this intolerance of outside opinions and actions.

That's ultimately what the song refers to for me moreso than the overtly-simplified 'people are shit' version. But believe what you will I guess.

Just curious, why was I quoted in your post? A mistake, perhaps?

first rule of online games: drama is unavoidable

The proposed system has the same problems of every moderated system.

If the system is crowdsourced it will create 2 issues; one is cliques will grief-mod anyone who crosses one of their members and at that point the people with the most time on their hands (basement dwellers) have power, and two it creates a group-think environment where anyone with an unpopular opinion is downvoted just because the majority disagrees.

If the system is run by appointed/selected moderators then you have the "forum god" problem where the moderators exercise their powers in an arbitrary and capricious manner and there is no meaningful appeals process. That in turn chills reasonable discourse because there is no way to know when a statement crosses the imaginary line in a mod's head from normal to "offensive".

The Escapist forums aren't free from this either but at least leaving up the moderated posts is more honest and forces the mods to exercise some restraint. Though it would be better if the individual doing the moderation was named in the moderated post for an extra level of accountability.

And tangentially on topic the new forum health thing should have started everyone at 0 rather than adding your past infractions to your "permanent record" in an ex-post-facto manner.

Giest4life:
Just curious, why was I quoted in your post? A mistake, perhaps?

Sorry...you're right - twas my mistake...blergh. I'll edit it and such. ;)

The system is a nice thought, but there is no conceivable method of judging this.

-You can't judge participation statistically in a objective based game.
-Public popularity can be easily abused by groups.
-Measuring popularity via team habits just screw people who aren't good, no one wants to be on the losing team,

There's no way to do it.

Thyunda:

mcnally86:

Thyunda:

Unless the majority are paying them more money to play. Which is plausible. I would then call the experiment a total success, wouldn't you?

I think its unfair to call something a success when psychology tells you it wont be. Once someone start trending bad they will probably keep trending bad and will be more liable to hate people at the top of the good ladder.

Then they can pay Valve extra to enjoy the game. They can hate all they want, but the more vocal that hate is, the more money they'll have to keep pouring in. Surely you don't think people are stupid enough to bring this on themselves on purpose?

However, I do also think it can't be too strict. And you can't just slap price tags on people just because they get reported. I HATE that.

Besides, if people boycott it, Valve just turn it off. They haven't really lost anything major...since by the time they start losing large portions of their audience, they ought to be quick enough to turn off the problem and let them all come back.

Oh snap I'll have to pay more the the escapist now.

Seriously though good point. I guess they should implement it all they could lose is development cost. I'm just afraid haters with big enough wallets are ganna see this as a green light to hate more. I already payed whats to stop me now?

I assumed Mr Newell, Gabe, was being flippant to get some laughs.

As long as its looked into and the right people are charge more, 100% support for this.

You know I just had a though (rare as this is for me.) What if people at maximum dick tax go around egging on and taunting people at maximum perk just to make people have to pay more. I could see this happening. Basically it allows greifers to grief your wallet.

Cousin_IT:
I assumed Mr Newell, Gabe, was being flippant to get some laughs.

Hahah...who knows. Perhaps they'll pull the same shtick in the end as Blizzard did: "Oh no no, you see...we only announced forced Real ID as a test! We weren't serious, we wus just trollin'! Are you mad bros?!"

And I'll believe them just about as much. Namely...not at all. ;)

mcnally86:

Thyunda:

mcnally86:

I think its unfair to call something a success when psychology tells you it wont be. Once someone start trending bad they will probably keep trending bad and will be more liable to hate people at the top of the good ladder.

Then they can pay Valve extra to enjoy the game. They can hate all they want, but the more vocal that hate is, the more money they'll have to keep pouring in. Surely you don't think people are stupid enough to bring this on themselves on purpose?

However, I do also think it can't be too strict. And you can't just slap price tags on people just because they get reported. I HATE that.

Besides, if people boycott it, Valve just turn it off. They haven't really lost anything major...since by the time they start losing large portions of their audience, they ought to be quick enough to turn off the problem and let them all come back.

Oh snap I'll have to pay more the the escapist now.

Seriously though good point. I guess they should implement it all they could lose is development cost. I'm just afraid haters with big enough wallets are ganna see this as a green light to hate more. I already payed whats to stop me now?

That's where my monthly payment thing came into being. Regardless of your wallet size, getting stuff for free is better than paying for it, right? Then, you have an incentive to be good, as opposed to a punishment for being bad. It kinda does both.

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