A Mojang community manager has stated that the company has no intention of reversing its implementation of a controversial new player reporting feature, and called for an end to harassment of Mojang employees.
Posting on Reddit, MojangMeesh clarified that, while the company values player feedback, it won’t necessarily “change the design principles Mojang Studios adheres to—this includes the upcoming reporting system”. They also asked upset players to cease “following Mojang employees around here on Reddit” to harass them in unrelated threads. The comment has received nearly 2000 downvotes at time of writing.
Minecraft players have been up in arms about the new player reporting system since it was announced a month ago, but it was finally implemented as part of yesterday’s 1.19.1 update. It allows players on both private and Mojang-hosted multiplayer servers to flag inappropriate messages in chat for review by Mojang investigators, potentially resulting in suspensions and bans for players that violate Minecraft’s community guidelines even on self-hosted servers. Fans are worried that the system will result in player bans for messages taken out of context, and more broadly that it gives Microsoft too much power to dictate the content of discussions on its platform.
I don’t think their argument is without merit, even if some players are behaving terribly about it. It’s hard to see a world where this system doesn’t ban someone because a joke between friends got misinterpreted. There will be an appeals process, though, and it’s also true that there are plenty of misconceptions flying around about how the system actually works. Scroll through any thread on the matter and it won’t be long before you find someone complaining about having their private server’s chat ‘monitored’ by Microsoft, or worried that they’ll be banned for cursing: neither of which are possible according to Mojang’s own FAQ on the reporting system.
Mojang is in a bit of a bind on this one. A thread from Stuart Duncan—who runs a Minecraft server for children with autism—shows just how much awful stuff Minecraft plays host to on a regular basis. Duncan showcases studies and reports from the ADL, the BBC, and others that tell stories of racists and predators using the game in despicable ways. Providing tools to combat that behaviour seems important. While it’s true that ‘think of the children’ scare stories get used to justify reactionary policies in real life, a tool that lets players report dodgy chat messages in Minecraft doesn’t really seem like the thin end of a draconian wedge.
In other Minecraft news, Mojang recently announced that the game won’t be featuring NFTs, as they’re at odds with its “values of creative inclusion”. At least that move only seemed to garner enthusiastic support from the playerbase, although there’s been no word yet on what that AI they trained to play Minecraft thinks about it.