The Think Tank: Would you participate in an in-game protest?

The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
In-game protests are nothing new, but the recent Dungeons and Dragons Online sit-in is the most recent proof that players can effectively organize in large numbers against policies they believe to be unfair. Like real-life protests, these demonstrations can work or be largely ignored by the powers-that-be.

Have any Massively staffers participated in an in-game protest? How many feel that these types of demonstrations can actually be effective? These are the questions I posed to the team members this week.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I would, but only while knowing that it wouldn't really make an impact. I think the more effective route is to start a blog or forum post stating -- in a calm, clear and very detailed manner -- the reasons I am upset. Developers can't do much with a batch of players sitting on their servers who are all yelling random things into chat, but a developer can actually attempt to fix an issue when it is clearly stated. I know it doesn't sound very cool, but unfortunately most of life's problems have pretty boring solutions. I would say that I would just stop playing as well, but only if I had reached the point of becoming miserable.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I've attended protests before, just none that's worked. Sometimes I do it out of morbid curiosity; sometimes it's just to be surrounded by people who feel as upset about something as I do. I don't think protests are all about idealism or believing you can make a difference. I remember quite a lot of people at the City of Heroes rallies knowing they had a lost cause and showing up anyway out of spite and solidarity, going down in a blaze of glory.

I am a big proponent of dollar voting, but in a system as large as an MMO, simply walking away doesn't communicate much to a studio since the studio has no idea why you quit and you become easy to dismiss as acceptable attrition. A well-publicized and heavily attended protest, on the other hand, can jolt a company accustomed to ignoring its customers and forums into action.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
The problem is that we already know what works for protests: quitting the game and not spending money on it. That's it. Everything else is not actually a protest; it's an in-game gathering with unusual premises. I've been to one, and that's because it was a gathering that I knew and said was not actually going to work. The voice you have is to leave, and that's all.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I would indeed attend an in-game protest. I would also attend parades, community events, and birthday parties. I just like in-game gatherings. Joking aside, I would happily log in to show support for the other players who are protesting, but I wouldn't expect actual change. I don't think in-game protests are a bad idea overall; it just seems to me that if other means of communication with developers have failed, then it's unlikely be the turning point players are hoping for. In my opinion it's essentially saying, "We don't like what you're doing with your game, and to show you that we don't like it, we are going to play your game." This seems a bit counterintuitive.

What I do enjoy is passionate players getting together with other passionate players and feeling that unique sense of solidarity you get when other people think a situation sucks as much as you do. Ultimately I don't think the most important result is actually shutting down upcoming changes but instead what players take away from the event once they've logged out. Hopefully it brings some sense closure and the feeling of having done everything they can for something they believe in.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
Nah, my time's too valuable. And besides, no current MMO is worth getting that upset about because there are 20 other ones almost exactly like it.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
No, I haven't. Listen, I love games. I do. I'm passionate about them. But there's a line that I have when it comes to how much I'm willing to get involved, and on the other side of that is "spending gobs of time protesting something in-game." It doesn't usually do much good anyway, and if I really care about the issue, I'll just write about it, put it out there, and move on with my life.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I'm a pretty casual gamer. I honestly can't think of anything that could happen in a video game that I would care about enough to protest. I like playing a Shaman in World of Warcraft, for example, but if Blizzard removed the class, I'd probably just stop playing instead of writing some sort of searing post on the forum or staging a Stormwind coup.

That being said, I think protests can have an impact. It certainly generates more press and awareness than quitting the game. The people protesting Dungeons and Dragons Online right now are forcing Turbine to at least notice them because instead of walking away in silence, they are creating a visual manifestation of their frustrations. It might work; it might not. The list of changes implemented over the cries of players is far longer than the list of changes reversed due to complaints.

The biggest issue with any protest, be it real or virtual, is that growth often results in a lack of focus. New participants inevitably bring their personal gripes into the mix, which results in a complication of the original message. This makes it much tougher for developers (or whoever) to find a core problem to fix and a solution the majority will find agreeable
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
No, I really, absolutely won't. Why protest? As others have said, it's about dollar voting, and most importantly, if you unsub, there's usually an exit survey and you can say why you quit. You can also post on the forums or to feedback email addresses or whatever other option you have.

In-game protests don't work, but they're a sign that other methods have failed. It's a pretty good sign that it's time to jump ship because if the devs were willing to listen to feedback, they would have long before you guys logged in to whine and take screenshots.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I tend to not get involved with protests and petitions. For better or for worse, I adopt the lazy mentality that my one voice is not going to impact that outcome one way or another. I believe that a well-worded and constructive forum post, article, or video can be more impactful than an in-game sit-in.
The Think Tank Would you participate in an ingame protest
I guess it would depend on the reasons behind the protest. If it were to protest in game issues (player treatment of other players, etc.), then I might be inclined. However, if it were to protest something outside of the game -- namely, development issues -- I probably wouldn't. If I were that angry with something a development company or publishing house did, why would I actually play the game by participating in an in-game protest? Every minute spent in the game goes toward improving performance numbers. If I were that angry, I'd stop playing -- not throw a gargantuan "let's help their numbers" party.

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the carest of the carebears, so expect some disagreement! Join Senior Editor Shawn Schuster and the team for a new edition right here every other Thursday.
This article was originally published on Massively.