Gamers will always be associated with online abuse; it’s been like that for as long as I remember and it will probably still be true 10 years from now. If anything it’s getting worse, though thankfully more and more publishers and authorities are becoming made aware of the scale of the problem and clamping down hard on it.
The plethora of available channels for mean-spirited gamers to dish out their abuse is probably to blame for this, with services and communities like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Twitch and Steam essentially handing out virtual megaphones for trolls to regurgitate their general nastiness, as well as, of course, gaming sites and forums. A new addition to these available channels is the popular community-designed game #IDARB and its integrated Twitter and Twitch functionality.
Lots of videogames make use of Twitch and Twitter, but #IDARB is unique in that Tweets can actually affect the overall outcome of a game. The Twitter integration works so that if players Tweet to @idarbwire using your particular match’s hashtag, the game will generate what it calls Hash Bombs – which change the match you’re playing in, depending on which bomb is used. These Hash Bombs have the ability to block the goals, turn the ball into a bomb, or even rock the playing field like a boat (making movement all the more difficult). When the ‘hash bombs’ are implemented the message included in the Tweet that generated the bomb (as well as any Tweets that include #IDARB, in general) scroll at the bottom of the screen – this is how some people have started dishing out their abuse.
The idea of using Twitter to simultaneously act as a way to promote your game and be used as an actual gameplay mechanic is pure genius – it’s just a pity some people abuse this idea in such a negative way.
The developers were clearly expecting the problem too, made evident by the booting up screen which reads: “Your game settings allow the people of the Internet to interact with you. This may include profanity, threats, nudity, and unrealistic money-making opportunities” (emphasis ours). this may seem to some like a sort of light-hearted joke, but unfortunately it’s actually the truth told in a funny way – as some players have found out, to their misery. But is such a cavalier, matter-of-fact way of simply telling players they might receive threats really acceptable? For my money, I’m sure there’s something that the developers could be doing to track and punish the offenders. Twitter can track down the people responsible, after all.
For those of you that actually want to use Hash Bombs for their intended use rather than being a complete dick, here is a full list of each bomb and a short description of what they do:
#achievement – Calls the Achievement Bot
#anytime – Get to the choppa!
#barrel – The playing field performs a barrel roll
#block – Blocks the openings to each goal
#boat – The play field rocks like a boat
#bomb – turns the ball into a bomb. The scoring is increased when the bomb is active.
#boo – Spooks the players
#breadbox – Flashing Lights
#cake – Adds portals to the playing field
#chum – Sharks hunt the players
#clown – Everyone’s a clown
#decoy – Adds multiple decoy balls to the playing field
#dopples – Creates copies of each character on the field
#error – Error message displays
#fireworks – Light up the sky with this beautiful display
#fizz – Everyone gets fizzed
#flood – Water fills the playing field
#freedom – Opens the penalty box
#freeze – Freezeball activates locking the player into place
#friction – Makes everything heavier
#fullmoon – There is a full moon
#fungus – Camouflage covers the field
#genesis – Idarb in Sega format
#langzone – A tribute to world famous flash developer, Dave Lang
#lasers – Lasers appear which can put you in the penalty box if touched
#light – Turns out the lights
#llama – An ode to Jeff Minter
#love – Everyone gets hearts. It’s all you need.
#minecraft – Playfield is now 100% more Minecraft
#moonwalk – Everyone moonwalks
#numbers – Displays player numbers
#octoberfest – Beer everywhere!
#phil – A visit from an African Grey parrot.
#rainbows – Players get a trail of color behind them
#redbox – Everyone draws a red box
#reverse – Players get dizzy and the controls are reversed
#ricky – Never gonna give you up
#shootout – A little trip to the wild west
#smash – Platforms get smashed to bits
#snow – Winter wonderland
#spikes – Spike the field
#tiny – The board zooms in and out
#toasty – Toasty!
We’ll have a review of #IDARB soon, and it’s worth mentioning that it’s currently free all month for subscribers to Microsoft’s Xbox Live GOLD on Xbox One.