Cybersex in Free Realms. Or “Brad and Kimiko make a Porno.”

Free Realms is targeted at children. That being the case it needs to be extremely robust in dealing with anti-social behaviour.

In the most recent patch, the radius within which you can hear other people talking was greatly increased. Where previously, chat only extended perhaps the equivalent of 100 meters, now you can hear people half the world away. It is unclear at this time whether or not it was intended, but there have so far been no admissions that it was unintended. The consequences are not good.

There have been people asking for, and being given phone numbers, from people they’ve just met. Asking for personal details such as age and sex, and all manner of stuff that would not be anywhere near as disturbing in a game marketed for adults. Then we have the general meanness that we all know from other MMOs, but that is a little harder to legislate against. A lot of us adult types like Free Realms for the very reason that we did not, until the chat-range changes, have to put up with the sort of nastiness that is epidemic in the global chats of other MMO. As Lum would say, “People are broken.”. Free Realms is our happy place.

I’ve had quite a few people come up to me and ask me to be their boyfriend. Of course I politely decline, but it seems a bit of a weird thing to do, and makes me think that they are probably rather less than 13 years old. In fact you hear people giving out personal details all the time, and age is a common one, and if half of them were telling the truth, there are a LOT of people under the age of 13 who have access to chat. Whether that’s because they lied about their age when they signed up, or because their parents have chosen to not use the security features, I don’t know. Obviously parental responsibility is incredibly important when you let your kids on the internet, but SOE has to be able to provide a safe environment even to kids whose parents don’t give a damn. For some kids, it might be the only safe environment they have. Gods, that’s a depressing thought, but it is true.

I’ve also heard a lot of sexual talk, some of the worst I captured below.

Free Realms Cybersex

Free Realms Cybersex

Needless to say I tried to report Brad and Kimiko (Two of the pre-generated first name offerings. There are a lot of Brads and Kimikos, so anonymity is preserved in the above log.), but guess what? The /report function does not work, and I am not the only person who says that. If Free Realms is going to really succeed, it needs to convince parents that it is a safe place to let their kids have fun. Now, I do not have children, but I am truly unimpressed with how seriously SOE seem to be taking this. The chat-range is pretty much world-wide at the moment, so you plant a referee in Sanctuary on every server , and start hitting the ban button. Pretty simple.

There IS a profanity filter, but as you can see, no profanity filter can prevent people managing to be completely disgusting. To ensure a pleasant environment, SOE needs many more referees than currently appears to be the case. I am beginning to wonder if an MMO that allows open chat can EVER be child-safe, but for sure, it can’t be done without making the effort. With 2 million players, and growing, you need at least several hundred staff to maintain the safe and pleasant community. Some people will come to Free Realms with the express purpose of ruining it, and even more than in other MMO, they need to be stopped.

p.s. I am available for hire.

8 pm. 1st of June. I updated with a few extra thoughts culled from an brief email discussion I had on the subject. I should also add that today I was able to get the /report function to work (or at least it did not give an error message. Instead there was no response at all.). I did not do anything different to all the other times I have tried.

6 comments to Cybersex in Free Realms. Or “Brad and Kimiko make a Porno.”

  • Anita

    That’s disgusting!

    I was thinking of getting my 14 year old daughter an account. She has been watching over my shoulder, and borrowing my character a little, and agreed with me that it’s quite fun, especially with the dressing up in pretty (but tasteful) clothes. She loves the puppies too! She’s old and smart enough to mostly look after herself online (with some supervision!), but I would not want her to be subjected to that sort of perverted talk.

    I’ve not seen anything quite so horrible as what you have brought to my attention, but I have seen some icky things being discussed. I didn’t have any more luck with reporting it than you did.

    People who would bahave like that in a childrens game should not be allowed on the internet, let alone in Freerealms.

  • Free Realms IS fun.

    I think things will improve. This site has been bombarded by visitors from Sony (and weirdly, Disney) all day, and I have been assured that steps are going to be taken to make it easier to report evil-doers, and ensure a safe experience. I think SOE is taking this situation seriously now.

    Tonight’s censoring of numbers is part of that. Folks are reporting it as a bug on the forums, but it is actually to prevent children giving their phone-numbers to people. It is a terrible pain, but it is necessary. Hopefully they can get around to whitelisting perfectly decent words like “class” that are unfortunate enough to contain a word that is on the blacklist.

  • Aerensiniac

    Sorry for popin up here after a year but i just have to add how i love hypocrisy.
    Arkenor starts off by tagging cybersex as antisocial behaviour, shortly followed by a mother who is disgusted by the whole thing.

    So it makes me wonder where such people like you two are coming from where every form of sexuality is taboo, antisocial and disgusting. Anita hits the border line of win the most since she obviously didnt find it disgusting to “make” a daughter.

    Stop behaving like idiots please.
    If you want to protect your children you better wont buy an mmo for them at all, cause humans are playing there and humans have a sexuality you know.
    Also refer from pushing every crap on the internet. Its not the internet you know. Its the TV, its the school, the newspapers, comics and even you the parents. Children learn and today’s world teaches them everything in a fancy package that somehow always includes sex and violence.

    Some people could finally make the conclusion that this is simply human nature and dont act as if they were born at the moon synthesised from rocks. Protect your children with common sense instead of raging at certain products. Though i admit that this would require some intelligence as well.

    • I think public cybersex in a game designed for children IS antisocial. I’m not sure how that makes me a hypocrite, but if it does, I can live with that. I also have trouble conceiving how anyone could think that what I documented was acceptable.

      I am no prude. But I understand that when children are around, you should moderate your behaviour. That you don’t understand that is a little alarming.

  • name

    WOW. That is a very perverted. I have a character too and I tried to report but it wouldn’t let me.Even though I am still not an adult I still understand that children shouldn’t do that and I wonder how they know that weird stuff.

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