We all have to abide by the rules when it comes to communicating with other players. The purpose of the netiquette group of rules supports RN's desire to maintain a friendly environment for all players. Violation of those rules result in bans.
With the friendly environment concept in mind, what recourse is available when individuals or minority groups purposely agitate the majority? Yes, they are playing within the game rules but their actions are farm more offensive than say, being called an idiot or some other minor but derogatory term.
One can be certain that in a typical day, the person reporting another player for what equates to little more than school yard banter is laughing the whole time. They are satisfied in knowing that they have initiated repercussions that further agitate the one using the "offensive" language. Meanwhile, the other players have to "suck it up" and let the criminal element run amok. I use the term criminal, which might be extreme, but more often than not, one's actions in-game are a direct reflection upon their character. Thus, a lack of ethics and respect for others is certain to carry over into real life and those in question, are certainly more likely to take advantage of the rules in their favor for their unethical and nefarious deeds.
I'm not saying we need to eliminate the rules, not by far. But when it comes to the issue at hand, the "friendly" gaming environment, the "good guys" lose. I know of circumstances where people have left the server (myself included) because of the wicked actions of others. There is a serious discrepancy here when that environment is not only created, but tolerated and the only answer from support is that it's a feature of the game. Well, if I kick someone in life, I get charged with assault for my actions. I don't know of too many people ever being arrested for for verbally "vilifying" others.
I appreciate the effort you put into bringing your feedback and experiences to life, and would like to shed some light on how "the other side" might see things.
1. No one owns factories, cities or landmarks in Rail Nation. This is a competitive game, and other players are there to help you, challenge you or they pay no mind to you (or your needs).
2. There are (solo) strategies that do not fit "the common good" of a close-by association. Associations have the power to push back, especially if there is just one player breaking majorities. Single players or small groups have a right to push back in a similar fashion. This happens in all competitive games.
3. Players let steam off since they care about the game, but this should always be done in a respectful way. Insults do not help anyone. It can actually make the one calling names look bad instead of the actions he/she is trying to criticize.
To carry 'criminal', 'nefarious', and 'unethical' decisions from games to real world sounds like a separate topic, as does charges for these 'assaults' - a topic I know nothing about. What I do know there are different styles to playing games, and when it comes to Rail Nation, it is enough that rules are being followed.
As you might know, we are working on a new map, and are inviting the player community to help us fine-tune some details, like the Communication system - This is one good option to share ideas how "the good guys" could invite the "black hats" to fight for a common interest. What gameplay elements could support people to working together, while also keeping the competitive elements that many like?
What follows is my personal opinon:
This is a super interesting topic and I would like to share my thoughts on it. At the beginning you mention that violating the netiquette is bannable behavior because it disrupts a friendly environment while disruptive gameplay that has the same effect is not punished in any way. So why is that?
The key difference is intention here. If you insult someone, the clear intention is to...well....insult that person. You try to hurt, attack, ridicule or annoy that person and there is no other real purpose. Stuff like stealing majorities however...that actually has a purpose in the context of gameplay. It's a strategy that can help to fulfill the game goals.
You can compare it to professionel boxing, for example. Boxing, like most other sports, is all about sportsmanship and respect for your opponent. Hitting someone in the face is usually not considered a sign of respect. In boxing however it's completely okay, despite the fact that it's not a "nice" thing to do...because it's a valid method to win in this sport.
It's the same in Rail Nation. Yes, stealing majorities is not nice and if you want to make friends, that's probably the wrong way to go. But it's a strategy for success, similar to hitting someone in the face in boxing. It's is not necessarily done out of evil intent.
And that's the key difference between insults and aggressive gameplay. Insults always have an evil intent (except of course jokingly insulting among friends), but not aggressive gameplay...at least not necessarily.
Of course it's also possible that a player is using aggressive gameplay with the clear intention to be a jerk. That is basically trolling. The difficulty about punishing that is that you have to be sure. Did this player use aggressive gameplay because of strategic goals or maybe lack of knowledge/skill? Or did he do it just to be a jerk?
Unless you are 100% sure it's the latter and you have proof for it (for example if the player explicitly explained why he is doing it), you can't really punish it, because it's not okay to punish players for simply playing the game as it's intended to be played.
And it almost all cases, it's impossible for our supporters to be sure. That's why you usually get the "It's a feature of the game" answer. Because it is a feature of the game and it is intended to be used. It's a normal part of the game to do this for strategic purposes and it's also part of the game to adapt your strategy to other players using aggressive gameplay.
Well, I have seen medium to large corporations play with a "style" that cannot be explained other than to simply enrage the other players.
They seem to be prevalent on the SoE maps and nothing they do is beneficial to anyone, including themselves. Examples include doing everything possible to negatively impact the entire region. Okay, if there were some reward for that, I get it. But when their reactions result in corp rankings in the 30s and individual rankings way out of the top 100? It becomes obvious that they are only interested in keeping the region from being competitive. Okay, *maybe* they are organized for the sole purpose of benefiting some other region. What sense does it make to spend an entire game round sabotaging the work of others? Yet, it's done daily. And there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it.
The result is frustrating. Then, to add fuel to the fire, even the slightest remark about their actions is found to be in violation of the rules...resulting in bans. No vulgarities or threats and far less degrading than anything we see on television daily.
So, we cannot say anything at all about their actions - even keeping it G-rated, else get banned. Fine, then add a feature where the masses can negate their impact. Similar to the special route if need be...either with "cash" donations or shift it over to the politician side and people can simply vote. Something...anything other than "well, *some* people just have a different playing style. That's rubbish. I am pretty sure I share the same point of view on this along with many others but they realize, as I now do, that it's a waste of time as the world continues to cater to the touchy-feely mentality for fear of , heaven forbid, offending someone.
Salix, your reply was not viewable when I posted and I see that you bring up valid points, all that I am all aware of.
This is obviously, at least to me, a topic that the written word just won't do.
It's a lot more in-depth than simply taking majorities. It's also actions like blanket-hauling of all RGs in EG, purposely hauling direct to drive up WT. Targeting the city when the LM is the focus. The list is long.
The nut-shell version is this:
Offensive gameplay = good and acceptable, no countermeasures.
Offensive communication = bad, countermeasure in place (the 'ignore' feature)
It is not unusual to see players openly state that their aim in the game is just to disrupt others, they have no intention of trying to win anything, or achieve in game targets. Solo players who wish to achievce things playing their own way is a completely different matter and I have no real issue with them even though they are frustrating.
We have had it this round with one person on Loch Ness who, it seems, may have been annoyed by another player's actions in a previous round so decided to try to disrupt, initially, that person's association and then upped it to include the whole region in their retaliation.
Everything they do, such as the breaking of majorities & city hauling is a minor inconvenience that can be overcome but it still reduces the enjoyment when what you are thinking when you go to log in is 'What have they done this time?' so you spend half your time and/or $$ correcting issues rather than progressing.