Banning the Un-Bannable

By Cynella, HSM staff writer


Finally, after a long day of answering phones and helping customers, you have arrived home from work.


After grabbing some food to satiate your appetite, you turn the PlayStation on and log into Home. Check a few messages. Then it’s off to join your friends in Central Plaza.


There is no better stress-reliever than standing on a bench in the plaza, reading all of the insane jargon that people believe to be important in life. There are great conversations to delve into as well, which keeps everything interesting. And then there is…


Ugh. You see him coming. The one person that has never been on your friends list, has been blocked for several months, though still manages to find you. Whether you are at Central Plaza or the Hudson Gate, he always shows up. After weeks of interrogating all the people on your friends list, you realize that he isn’t on their list either. The only refuge to be had is a clubhouse or private space.


So: what makes this person roll your eyes upon seeing him?


Let’s start from the beginning. Standing in the mall among friends, this avatar always seems to be near. He doesn’t socialize too much; being a friend of a friend, he sits, waits and watches as you talk about certain issues in your personal and Home life. You don’t notice him too much, never guessing that he’s lying in wait and learning your every flaw. Life goes on as usual: the good times and the drama.


Weeks later — maybe even months – you’re sitting, unsuspecting, on the bench. Talking with your friends as usual. And here he comes. Not only does he begin to poke fun at your every flaw, but he also begins to attack everyone that is associated with you in this area. Becoming annoyed at this attack, you ask him to leave you alone and you promptly remove yourself from the area. A couple of days go by and you don’t think about him again.


While you’re enjoying a great game of bowling, he seemingly stumbles upon you again. This time his attacks elevate and include profanity.


So:


Select button.


Submit a report.


[Insert name].


Profanity.


Submit.


Even though you are trying to silence your fingers and not feed into his attack, you take comfort knowing that there is a Report option available at a click of your controller. Later on that evening you get a message from a friend: he has found the same troll in another area in Home, slandering your good name and attacking your friends as well.


The cycle continues until ten of your good friends have graduated to his hit list. Compiling notes with various friends, he always seems to bring up personal things about each user and use excessive amounts of profanity. Each one of your friends, by this time, has reported him numerous times.


You begin to wonder: is there such a thing as an un-bannable account?


No matter which space you go to, what time of day, or who you are with, here he comes. You not only have reported him for profanity and racial slurs, but now he has graduated into stalking. So you have also reported him for this. Growing annoyed at his invasive tactics, you also have blocked him. Unfortunately, while this stops the rude, attacking messages in your inbox, it doesn’t stop him from embarrassing you in front of other avatars while you watch him wave his arms around, reminding you that indeed he is talking.


You do your best to forget about it. Home’s great, right? Don’t let one rotten apple spoil the fun.


Ahhh, home at last, after another exhausting day at work. You log into Home. Alas, there is an update, so you download it while making yourself something to eat. Finally, arriving into Home, you see a lot of people game launching. Game launching has been around for a bit, but now it is improved. You can now launch any game. This is kind of cool, you think. You grin and run off to the Mall.


Enjoying the evening, you realize you haven’t seen your stalker in two days. Perhaps all the reports have caught up with him, you think, and breathe a sigh of relief.


A good hour into your deep conversation with your friend about the latest outfits that have come out with the new update, you receive a game launching request. Opening up your personal PDA you check out your alerts to see who it came from.


Your heart stops.


Even though you have blocked him, he has the capability of asking you to play a game with him.


Panic sinks in as you realize he has found a way to annoy you. You try to ignore the fact that he has sent you a game launching request, and then it starts: twenty rapid game launches later you attempt to report him again — but where is the report option for game launching annoyance? The game launching escapades continue every time he is in your presence. Although you are not the only victim of this annoying attempt to lag you out of the server, you can’t help but to feel singled out.


Eventually Home updates itself again, and with the updates another way to lag the server is born.


Have you ever seen different avatars in Home wearing spikes through their hats or clothes over their costumes? While most people view this as a harmless glitch, think about this glitch multiplied by being able to wear as many clothing items as you want at a time. When you enter a space your PlayStation has to download each individual item, including what the other avatars are wearing. At times this can leave you feeling like the only loaded avatar in Home, and everyone appears to be ghosts. When an avatar, or several avatars are in a single area wearing multiple clothing layers, this can cause the server to lag, or even boot you out of the Home network. This attacker knows very well that this will happen, and is attempting to lag you out of the server.


Now at the end of your rope as to how to deal with this local annoyance, all you can do is avoid him as best you can. Between you and his other numerous victims, he has been reported over a hundred times for stalking, profanity…you name it.


In the example behind this story, one of my friends even called Sony — to no avail.


The question arises: do people get banned from the PlayStation Network at all?


Well, quite simply, the answer is yes. Whether someone gets banned for saying a two-letter abbreviation of a profane phrase, quotes scripture from the Bible that can be misconstrued as hate speech, or simply for the username they chose when they created their account, fact is: people are getting banned. Just not this guy. For some reason you can’t fathom.


What will it take, Sony? Will it take videotaping the TV screen and subpoenaing the user’s IP address?


Enjoying a nice day in Central Plaza, you receive a message that your stalker has come down with a severe case of Yellow Light of Death. Yes. YES. All of Home has just breathed a sigh of relief at the loss of an annoyance.


Alas, here he comes, strutting like he owns Home. He most likely never got hit with a YLOD, and probably started the rumor himself. Leaving the area to rid yourself of the pest, you vow never to give up reporting him for every instance that he violates the End User License Agreement, and pray for the day that he receives a MAC address ban.


It’s a shame that one user can cause so much pain in what is otherwise a wonderful experience. And a larger shame that Sony does so little about it.

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