How  a company that makes such cool games like The Sims and Dragon Age be so misguided I will never know. One would think that a company as big as EA would have come into the current age and learned how to do things properly instead of winging it, but that’s what they are doing.

In the process they are allowing minors to be exposed to cyber-bulling, harassment, blackmail, extortion and pornography.  It saddens me as a parent that those who run adult oriented websites are more responsible than gaming companies.  As an adult webmaster that terrifies me and makes question if there is any hope for humanity because the human IQ seems to go down with each advance in technology.  Before too long we will have computers and robots smarter than us.  You know what’s going to happen them if you’ve seen Terminator and I, Robot.

Now, everyone who has visited this blog knows I love the game The Sims.  Over the many years I have played through the different incarnations there are things that I have discovered that I could really do without in regards to the game, and it all comes from the Sims community.  For whatever reason the community has always been heavy with drama.  There is always someone taking credit for another persons work or something.  It often reaches stupid proportions.

My real life is filled with an encyclopedia of medical problems from autism to life threatening food allergies to things wrong with my kids that doctors can’t name.  I don’t have the time or energy to deal with drama.  I have learned, albeit painfully,  to keep those who would come into my life and thrive on drama at least at arms length.  I don’t play computer games or visit the internet to deal with drama.  This is why I have stayed on the fringes of the Sims community, doing my own thing and interacting with few people.

Of late I have found a Sims community that is, for the most part, drama free.  It’s a pleasant place and the people are wonderful.  It is through them that I have learned of the recent bit of drama and EA’s lack of attention to the matter.  Normally I wouldn’t concern myself with such things, but I have seen first hand on the Sims 3 Facebook page what kind of stuff goes on in the community in the presence of minors.  People should really know better than to behave like this and EA should be doing something about the problems, and they are not.

Instead of putting pressure on EA to do something, most members of the community are ignoring the problem and hoping that it will go away on it’s own.  The entire “It’s not happening to me so why should I do something about it” mentality is running rampant.   EA, on the other hand, doesn’t benefit in any way by doing something.  In fact, it hurts them monetarily to do something about the problem because those involved in the recent rash of hate mongering are spending money left and right to buy “gifts” from the EA store to give to other members of the community…attached with notes of hate encouraging those who received the gifts to harass other members of the community. For this, I give you Exhibit A:

EA apparently has no problem with harassment, blackmail, and extortion as long as they get money from it.

This same person is also responsible for posting pornographic pictures to the forum.  I can provide screen shots of those posts as well, but I am going to choose not to because I don’t know who reads this blog and the content is inappropriate for anyone under 18.

And that is a bigger problem.

EA has taken a hands off approach to things.  They only remove things when someone reports it.  This means that offensive content remains on their forum, where minors have access to it, until someone complains, and then it’s not always removed immediately.   There are reports of porn remaining on the forum for hours.  There are also reports of pornographic images being left in the patterns section of The Exchange for days.  When it comes to the user generated content that EA hosts on The Exchange, where they will remove the download and the large image of the content, they leave up the thumbnails.  I have personally seen everything from naked girlie pictures to hardcore gay porn in the patterns section of The Exchange.  This is why I will not use it.  I have a handful of items up there that I hoped I could use to direct some traffic to my Sims website, but other than that I won’t upload anything to it and I rarely download anything from it, unless someone I know sends me a direct link to their creation.

Here’s the thing, when someone complains about harassing messages from this troll, or trolls, they get around to removing it and deleting the account.  Then they turn around and grant the person(s) new serial numbers for the game where he/she can register a new account to download, upload and use the forums.  Chat logs have been posted in various spots to the effect proving this.  I give you exhibit B:

And yet, I can’t get them to give me a new serial number for Spore since I have had to reinstall 5 times since I bought it and my serial doesn’t work any more.  No, they won’t give out a new serial when yours doesn’t work anymore, they want you to go buy a new copy.  Is it any wonder Spore didn’t become more popular?

Let me make something abundantly clear here.  The Sims 3 forum is a place where minors, a large number of them between the ages of 10 and 14 hang out wih others who play the Sims.  While they are not the ones being bullied, they are seeing it happen first hand.  10 is that age when kids, while they may be mature enough to play a T rated game, they are also impressionable enough to do what others do.  In fact, adults tend to follow the crowd because no one likes to be the weird one.  Adults are just as worried about being one of the cool kids and keeping up appearances.   It’s what feeds the materialism monster.  People of all ages mimic behavior and you know that there are kids who will go along with this crap just to be part of a group they feel is cool or to get something, in this case Barnacle Bay, a Sims 3 world that costs about $20.00, because the hate mongers are giving it to people who join the harassment raiding party…and EA reaps the cash rewards.

The Sims 3 forum and to some extent The Exchange has become a place that isn’t safe for anyone under 18.  It’s a place where if kids visit their parents need to be there with them monitoring activity.

This is something that should have never happened on the website of a T rated game.  However, EA can’t seem to uphold their own Terms of Service with banning those who violate the TOS.  EA also can’t seem to be bothered to employ the social media gurus that every other company with a large web presence does.  This means hiring a small team of people to not only post on their Facebook and Twitter page but to monitor it and remove anything that visitors post that is inappropriate as soon as it goes up and block offenders.  This means having forum admins and moderators on around the clock to deal with porn, harassment and any other problems that come up and block accounts.  Additionally, EA should be passing out of all of it’s customer service personal the IP addresses of those who are harassing others, getting accounts shut down and contacting customer service for new serial numbers where they can re-register.

I am disgusted that EA allows this to continue.  I am heartbroken that the largest part of the Sims community isn’t more pro-active about helping to put an end to the harassment and inappropriate behavior.  By not being more pro-active themselves to prevent it and attending to things in a reasonable time frame they are doing nothing but encouraging the behavior and being accessories to illegal activity  including distributing pornography to minors, extortion, blackmail and cyber-bullying.

I have posted an article about the problem on Associated Content as well about the problem.  If EA doesn’t want to deal with the problem willingly, it’s my hope that maybe they will do it by force if enough bad publicity is generated by enough concerned people.   Apparently large companies only listen when it affects their bottom line.  It’s really too bad that they make such great products but treat the communities that they set up in the way of websites and message boards as afterthoughts showing that they care more about making money than about the people who buy their products.

Yes, the rant is over and it’s Bunny Time…

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