Problem number two is Sony's lack of action. Moderators are few and far between, the automated system in place doesn't work too well, and people feel that they can get away with whatever they want. There's no sense of authority or control in Home
, and that's a detriment. Now, I'm not pushing for everyone to be horribly oppressed, but there needs to be some sense of order and control that's apparent to the players. When word spreads that you can't get away with certain behaviors, the behavior begins to diminish over time.
And, finally, problem number three -- there are avatars involved. Even if your turn off their voice chat and visual text chat, you still have a crazy annoying avatar chasing after you, clipping your torso when you go to bowl that next frame. The answer to this problem is to simply ignore him, as he will probably go away, but this phenomenon is still annoying and not fun for any user. You just want to play your game sans problems, right?Xbox Live
seems to have have found the solution to these problems by sheer accident. Then answer is simply to avoid these problems by not doing them. It doesn't over-promise content, it does provide control for the users, and it avoids visual avatars in most games. (Except in the case of the Xbox Live vision camera; we're just going to temporarily forget about that
. Especially as it only works with a few games.)
The success comes from the fact that if you mute someone and report them for harassment, Xbox Live makes sure you avoid that player in your online play. If the automatic matchmaking has a choice between game A and game B, and game A has a person you hate in it, you'll be placed in game B without noticing it. Home
does not have that luxury because the entire world is linked together. You mute someone and there's no guarantee that you'll never see him again.
So what can Home
do? I say introduce the ultimate ban -- avatar removal. You mute someone and it removes their avatar from on screen for you. You don't see them, you don't hear them, you don't worry about them. Sure, you might end up banning half of the Home
community, but now you have control over what you see and do in Home
In the end, that's what it all comes down to -- user control. Let the user determine their own experience; don't force it on them.
Colin Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who really likes all of the controls that Xbox Live provides, even if he can't buy a virtual couch for his Xbox Dashboard. When he's not writing here for Massively, he's over running Epic Loot For All! with his insane friends. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at colin.brennan AT weblogsinc DOT com.