Eurogamer: Speaking of how people use it, I've found that if you've got a female avatar you tend to get surrounded by big groups of male avatars, which is, you know, a bit freaky and unnerving. Are you aware of that issue? Do you have any ideas for dealing with it, or do you think it isn't a problem which needs to be solved?
Peter Edward: Yes, I am aware of it. To a certain extent it's a function of the internet generally.
Eurogamer: It's full of mad stalking men?
Peter Edward: Well... There is a smaller percentage of women who get a lot of attention, regardless of what platform you're talking about. Home just brings that to life a bit more with the avatars.
I think it's calmed down a bit and will continue to do so as people realise having a woman in there is not such a big deal. And also when they realise that actually, a good percentage of women in there aren't actually women, as is standard with the internet.
Eurogamer: I actually am actually a woman, just for the record. You haven't thought of offering something like downloadable mace? Maybe you could shake the Sixaxis to spray it.
Peter Edward: The thing is with those sorts of things, unless you know for certain the person using it is really a woman, it's open to just as much abuse. We're very confident in our moderation ability and our process. If anybody is giving you grief there are a number of different ways in which you can get that person out of your face.
Rather than try to put measures in place to prevent people doing things, we want the community to establish acceptable levels of behaviour and almost police itself. There are a lot of people within Home who will push back against griefing and say it's unacceptable.
Eurogamer: Microsoft's hit the headlines several times over their policy with regard to the use of the word "gay" on Xbox Live. Sony doesn't seem to have suffered the same controversy. Is this because you have a different policy? Have you learned lessons from their experience?
Peter Edward: I can't really comment on the policy. Home uses exactly the same moderation policy as the PlayStation Network as a whole, we all the same text filters and operate on the same matrix of severity of complaints.
Again you want to give people the freedom to express themselves, but you don't want to give them so much freedom they're able to abuse each other ad infinitum. So yeah, we have swearword filters and abusive word filters but you have to be quite careful what you put in those lists. It's a fine line. I guess if we're not in the headlines maybe we have learned some lessons somewhere.
Eurogamer: Do you keep an eye on what Microsoft is doing in terms of their avatars and community activities?
Peter Edward: Yes, obviously. But when we started working on Home, we were very conscious not to pay too much attention to what other people were doing. Because then you run the risk of developing something that's basically answering your competitors, rather than developing something that's addressing your community's wants and needs. Obviously we're aware of what other platforms are doing, but we don't use that as our to-do list.
Eurogamer: Microsoft is keeping an eye on you, it seems. When Home first launched Aaron Greenberg described it as "Second Life for hardcore gamers". He said, "It feels like 2005 tech in 2008." How do your respond to that?
Peter Edward: He's entitled to his opinion. I don't think it is 2005 technology in 2008. Graphically it's a very good-looking platform; the fact we've been nominated for a Visual Arts Develop award speaks to that. We've also been nominated for a Technical Innovation Develop award. I don't want to get into a platform-versus-platform discussion