DragonRealms is the MUD that I first started on and the one I have stuck with from a young age. I played between 2003-2010 and returned in 2016-2018. During the first stint of my DR career I played a character named . At some point he was one of the largest Thieves (not the largest by any stretch, but up there). I also built the largest “family” in DR at the time with around a dozen and a half members. We started a number of IC organizations and my roleplay was a “bad guy” that toed the line of being frankly a bully. In 2010 I stopped playing for real life reasons.
In 2016 I returned. I didn’t return as my old character, because in retrospect I felt that I had been a mean to people beyond mere roleplay. I created a character named Maxwelinski who became one of the largest Bards in that time frame. By now the game had dwindled in population and most of the players would spend days at a time AFK scripting. Roleplay still exists, but only in small groups if you make it so. Eventually we rebuilt a large family.
During this period I “bonded” another character (DR’s version of marriage) and we began a relationship out of the game as well over the course of two years. The player applied to be a GameMaster (GM), the paid volunteer staff of DragonRealms. Previous to this we both had contact with existing GMs, two of whom quit and/or were fired.
I learned a great deal about the inner workings of DragonRealms. I was given GM training materials (despite being a violation of the rules and the NDA the volunteer staff are required to sign as a condition of employment) and I was given access to the GM account of the person I was dating at the time. These are serious breaches of both the employment contract and of the rules, as well as the spirit of the game. I was also regularly kept up to date on gossip, passed logs of cybersex in “private” rooms, and warned of impending “script checks” that would allow me to avoid the punishment for AFK scripting. (This in theory would allow you to leave your character running overnight and progress quickly, but in practice the AFK rule is rarely enforced so it's unlikely I received much of an advantage from this.) A few of the largest characters in DragonRealms are privy to this kind of favoritism.
I learned that almost everything in the game is regularly logged, despite Simutronics policy stating that it is not typical to watch or log players for private reasons. I learned that every venue of “private” conversation, for example private channels, whispers, conversations in the “private” rooms that adult behavior are allowed in, are regularly watched and recorded by GameMasters. I became very uncomfortable with this, because privacy is a concern for me, and I began to avoid all communication in the game as well as to conflict with my GM girlfriend at the time over this. We eventually broke up.
Over the course of the next approximate six months, this GM ex-girlfriend was allowed to put a script on me that recorded my every emote, say, whisper, and action. I would regularly be harassed out of the game (e.g. Discord) if I spoke to another girl in game or any friends she did not approve of. Further, this GM began to copy “alterations,” or unique items players are rarely allowed to write, and introduce them into the game as common items. These included personal wedding-themed and relationship-themed alterations I wrote as well as items based on pictures of my real life clothing – and even items with references to my name and initials – in them. It became an intimidating and frightening form of stalking.
I reported this to the senior staff or “boss” of the game, the Product Manager, who is responsible for hiring. I was told by other GMs that she would try to bury it, which she did. The stalking and harassment continued over the course of multiple events (multiple months) until it dwindled but never completely ceased.
At this point I was informed that the same Product Manager hired an individual who participated in what could be described as a DR-related “hate forum” or 'griefer' forum associated with DragonRealms and chats between 2003 and 2016. (I myself participated on these forums and bullied players for many years through them, which is one of the reasons I did not return on my oldest character, although I never engaged in the racist/homophobic/antisemitic elements of the forum. So I am speaking from first-hand experience on that side of the fence.) This was someone who regularly posted racist, antisemitic and homophobic diatribes on these forums. I reported this, too, to the Product Manager, as well as the rest of the staff and the corporate owners of the game (Simutronics/Stillfront).
During this whole period myself and friends were harassed by friends of the two aforementioned GMs and the Product Manager. The harassment often took on a sexual nature (sexual harassment) and also involved digging up information and doxxing players. Despite writing to corporate and Simutronics customer service multiple times, the harassment continued, the policy stating they would take no action on events that happened outside of their own servers. This despite the fact the same group of people have been engaging in the same behavior in this game for 15+ years.
I received no response from any staff regarding any of the issues I reported, which I found very inappropriate.
Antisemitism, racism and homophobia are deal breakers for me. When I learned that this individual was hired as staff I canceled my accounts. It is one thing to say that you are unwilling to stop the private behaviors of players out of the game. It is another thing entirely to hire staff who have regularly participated in stirring up racial hatred outside of the game over the course of many years.
DragonRealms has many good features, it’s a unique game mechanically in every way. However, the current Product Manager of the game seems unwilling to take a hard stance against the abuse or stalking of players, against sexual harassment by others in the game community, against cheating or rigging events by staff, and most importantly against antisemitism, racism, homophobia and hate.
I will end on a positive note and say that most of the DR staff is not like this. There are other GameMasters who are uncomfortable with the situation as well. However they do not have the authority to do anything and are likely afraid of the consequences of speaking out as well. If the Product Manager intends to protect abusive friends they hired it is the final say.
It is a game worth playing for its mechanical features, but only if the current Product Manager and Simutronics are willing to take a hard stance against the aforementioned stalking, racism, and so on. No game is worth playing if it refuses to stand up against hatred or allows its employees to abuse its players.
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