Call of Duty: Elite's community acts surprisingly civil.
Could the days of hateful bigots describing lurid acts with your mother in online first-person shooters be drawing to a close? Call of Duty has not been known for its mature, understanding demographic lately, but the upcoming Call of Duty: Elite service might change that. Beta testers of Activision's content subscription service have generally been supportive and social with each other, according to a company VP. This community-building might not be enough to break the rushing tide of foul-mouthed prepubescent boys, but it's a step in the right direction.
The way to break bad online shooter habits was to develop a system that helps players feel less anonymous. Elite members can find other players through a social network that documents common interests and personal qualities rather than raw scores. "They're so happy to actually have a place to be part of a community, not a message board," says Jamie Berger, a digital VP at Activision. "It creates a social contract. How can we start behaving as if we live in a neighborhood? You try to treat your neighbors with respect."
Since Berger's experience is with the beta testing community, the retail reality may prove to be a different story entirely. Beta testers are often dedicated fans who want to bring legitimate insight to a favorite series. Still, at an asking price of $49.99 per year, Elite should weed out more casual, hate-filled players.
If Call of Duty: Elite can maintain civility after its retail launch, it will still only be a drop of good manners in an ocean of disrespect. Still, courtesy has to start somewhere. Those of you who plan to subscribe to Elite, the ball is in your court now.