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The problem of game developers receiving abusive messages (medium.com)
153 points by guildwriter 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 166 comments

Up until about five years ago, I've only ever wanted to create and share video games. After a couple years doing it independently and getting my first professional game job, gamer gate happened. It's absolutely terrifying to see the lengths at which people will go to make someone's life a living hell. Every industry friend was affected, and reacted mostly by reducing their online presence, and I've done the same. Some were targeted personally. A few left the industry.

It's hard to want to make games now. The best feeling in the world was watching someone on YouTube play something I'd made. It's different now. Part of it is fear of being targeted, but it's also made me think of why I would put so much effort into something that attracts so much vitriol. I know it's a minority of people, but games take months of hard work to create and these thoughts take a toll over time, especially on bad days.

The more personality a person puts into their game, the more they risk being targeted. It's depressing to have to hide self expression, reduce social media presence, and use pseudonyms when all I really want is to make games for others to have fun with.

Game design is a form of expression which requires substantial investment both from the developer and also from the participant. The customers have serious skin in this interaction in the form of money spent on the game, time invested in progression, social standing (sometimes you have to be playing this game because all your friends are playing it) and so on. This leads people to thinking that the moral high ground lies with them - they paid for this, they spent precious time, etc, etc - and the game developers should listen to them (and them alone).

In a way the relationship is like the archetypal "number one fan" for a musician, writer, artist in times past, who had seen all the shows and purchased all the books and now feels, because the object of their attentions has made a choice they disagree with, somehow they have been betrayed. What game development has done is lower the cost of entry into these toxic relationships.

As someone who heard and read about Gamer Gate, but not more, I'm genuinely curious: What exactly is it that GG did to people working in the industry? My understanding was that the two parties having a fight were female developers and game reviewers on one side and a horde of "young angry white males" on the other (at least if you simplify the whole thing enough).

And from this I understood that it was mostly the life of these females that was made a living hell. So, are you one of those female game developers, or did the mob turn against everyone creating games, regardless of gender?

I hope this doesn't come across stupid - it's just that it seems to be an extremely complex topic and I just want to understand it a bit more.

Going by memory here, since most of the search results about the topic are very... polarized.

The genesis of the problem, as with so many problems, is that two people were in a short term sexual relationship. The issue with that is the woman made video games, and the man reviewed video games. His review of her video game "Depression Quest" was glowing - a sentiment most people who played the game didn't feel was warranted. The relationship was uncovered, accusations started flying, and a mob was formed on both sides. Those mobs proceeded to do what mobs do - attack each other.

The biggest impact I saw was that people in the industry were not allowed to be neutral, so they just didn't comment. Why interact with the crowd when you're just going to be pilloried in a highly visible fashion by one side or the other?

GamerGate was orchestrated by misogynistic racists on 4chan's /pol/ board. They used "ethics in journalism" as a deliberate excuse to rile people up, and tricked a large crowd of gamers into buying that excuse and thus providing them with cover and additional power. Ultimately it was a disgusting and successful attack against women and people of color.

By repeating the excuse (that it was about a game review, when in fact it was an orchestrated attack, and the supposed review does not exist), you're perpetuating a mistake (providing cover to a small group of misogynistic racists) that caused a lot of harm. I doubt you did this intentionally, so I suggest you do some more research.

There is a fantastic YouTube series that goes into detail, including investigating the public record of the people behind GamerGate, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y8XgGhXkTQ

If you can't watch the whole thing (although it's worth it), this part goes into the origins of GamerGate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6TrKkkVEhs .

Your summary basically reflects my understanding of the whole mess. However, the reason for my initial question here is that I was surprised to learn that it also affected people in the industry in general - and not only women/poc - so much, to the point where it sounds like making games is no more fun now (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16130003).

I think you've got cause and effect reversed—GamerGate worked because gamers were already prone to this sort of behavior. See "This is Phil Fish," [1] a video (by the same person who did the GamerGate video) about Phil Fish, the creator of the acclaimed indie game "Fez." He was driven off the Internet (or at least out of public participation) by similar toxic behavior.

Phil Fish is a white male.

I don't know how long this has been going on, and it does seem to be getting steadily worse, but I don't think GamerGate was a turning point. Just a particularly visible example of how bad things have gotten.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmTUW-owa2w

Hmm. Seems you're correct regarding the review. I must have mistaken the Giant bomb review I read for it. The journalistic impropriety did not include a review, just positive press.

Whomever stirred the pot, honestly, doesn't matter in this context. In the end, both sides used the mobs to their own ends. Both sides were contemptible in the end. It wasn't the mysogynists who attacked Total Biscuit (not to mention his wife and children) over his commentary about the journalistic impropriety angle, who sent him death threats.

Your response here bothered me, and it took me a while to figure out why. Ultimately, I think it's the false equivalency ("both 'sides' did terrible things, so they're both equally at fault") and the lack of regret for your mistake.

If you don't see the problem here, I don't think I can convince you otherwise, but I couldn't let this stand unchallenged. It is not okay to blow off a deliberate, well-planned, devastating attack against women and minorities. You spread misinformation that benefited the attackers. That was an understandable mistake. But then you doubled down on that mistake. The original mistake is understandable. The doubling down is not.

People suffered real harm as a result of this. We all have a responsibility as caring humans to do our part to prevent it from happening again. I'm not asking you to go out and volunteer, or send money, or anything hard. Just don't spread misinformation, and don't engage in false equivalencies that benefit aggressors.

The argument made was about positive publicity, though that was also turned into "positive reviews" via the wonders of the internet telephone game.

GamerGate was a far more complex scenario than you're simplifying it to.

Is it fair to call them "young angry white males", when a fair number of the women and/or journalists are young and white too?

In any case, the case of Anita Sarkesian seems a bit different. And I dont see a great deal many female developers involved; Zoe Quinn appears to be involved more than simply being a female developer.

I had a long phone conversation recently with a game industry friend who had the misfortune of being involved in multiple games that became targets of abuse. I had asked him for advice about potentially making some youtube videos about game design, including f2p game design (which I have substantial expertise in).

He warned me that depending on the approach, even implying that I thought certain types of games or monetization weren't the worst thing since cancer could result in hate mail, doxxing, death threats to myself and my family, etc. He had been through that experience and wanted to warn me against it.

Despite being involved in some very popular f2p mobile games, the worst abuse I've had was someone sending me a DM on Reddit saying I should get cancer.

I don't really know what, if any, the solution here is. I've been able to ignore the worst of what I've taken because it's been pretty mild compared to what's possible. It makes me wonder - if I were the public face of a game that really, really pissed off the trolls, would I be able to emotionally handle the result? I have no idea and I don't want to find out.

You just need to not give a fuck. It works for online interaction and it sure work for other parts of life. Care about what you can influence, don't about things you have no control over.

Someone cut in front of you in traffic: good for them. Someone insults you: heh, must be their own insecurities showing.

I think the only threshold for online interaction would be people threatening violence against you. If they do, file a police report then don't sweat it anymore.

Learn to not care about things and you'll endure a lot less stress. Then your life will feel a lot better.

This advice is entirely oblivious to how the creative process works, and why people create games, music, literature or art in the first place.

It's also somewhat irritating to me, because it reminds me of how I was constantly told the same thing in the context of being bullied as a child. Which in the end is really about it being easier for adults to make the one bullied kid conform, than the clique of kids who do the bullying. It's basically victim blaming in disguise.

Well, one view is to consider it victim blaming. Another view is to consider it the offer of a strategy to minimise the upset caused.

> the offer of a strategy to minimise the upset caused.

Ah yes, the "upset caused". Also known as "a complete lack of empathy for or insight into the situation by the person offering the advice, usually due to not really thinking about the problem at all".

At least, that's the only way I can imagine someone thinking to themselves "oh, this kid is being beaten up, his stuff is being destroyed or taken from him. The best strategy is clearly to be less upset about all that"

EDIT: But I guess you were talking about on-line trolling. Again, that advice shows a complete lack of understanding about the creative process. We are a social species, and a large part of why people do any kind of creative activity at all is wanting to share what you made.

Telling people to not give a shit about the response to your work is missing the point of why people do it to begin with.

Not the person you're replying to.

>At least, that's the only way I can imagine someone thinking to themselves "oh, this kid is being beaten up, his stuff is being destroyed or taken from him. The best strategy is clearly to be less upset about all that"

This is a straw man. No one has claimed anything like that at any point in this thread. You are exaggerating their point to make your own, and it lessens the impact of what you're trying to say.

>Telling people to not give a shit about the response to your work is missing the point of why people do it to begin with.

When I create things, I create them because there is something inside of me that needs to get out. I don't create it for other people. I create because there is no way for me to contain it otherwise. It feels very good when other people like what you create, but I wouldn't call it the reason I'm creating something.

If you constantly seek validation from others, you are going to be let down and discouraged, because people won't consistently provide that validation.

That is separate from whether or not people should ignore bullying. If you see bullying happening, you have a duty to put a stop to it, report it, or otherwise address it. If you're getting bullied, you shouldn't ignore it, but report it to whom you can. But the sad fact of this world is that you're unlikely to receive justice for it. The only thing you truly have control over is your own reaction. Exert your control.

You're on a website that functions by social interaction validated through votes of other people.

I think this sort of thinking is far too fatalistic and basically throws people who cannot deal with abuse and hate under the bus to boot.

The platforms hate and abuse are delivered on are currently under human control. The idea we have no control over whether or not we receive hate and abuse is simply not true. The solution, moderation, isn't even new and is a core feature of all polite online spaces. HN is a good example.

moderation will never stamp out but the tiniest of hate/ignorance that will come. the only thing that will work is removing the one thing the trolls feed on... your reaction.

I think calling these people trolls misses a significant point that they feel their grievances are genuine. See a bunch of the comments below defending abuse as a legitimate response. This is way more about cultural norms in terms of what is an acceptable way to communicate and moderation is supremely effective at establishing them.

Hate and abuse are definitely hard or impossible to eradicate completely but we can do a lot better than current social media platforms and places like the Steam forums are doing.

Moderation is essential because by publicly making an example of trolls, you can change the culture to prevent it. It's the same theory as patching up broken windows to ensure that worse things don't happen.

I feel internet shaming is the wrong answer as it's a different side of the same coin. As much as these people are trying to tear down and essentially bully people with words in a negative manner -- those who shame those people end up doing the same thing back, and often take it to extremes where punishment is vastly out of touch with the "crime".

By shining a light on these groups you attract others to it. This is why (I personally feel) the extreme right and extreme left exist today in politics. When you highlight (even to shame) a group it galvanizes them and brings other loonies to their cause.

I'm not talking about shaming people, I think that if you want to have a community that doesn't have abuse then you need the admins to remove or ban the people who post abuse and threats.

I'm exactly the same.

I just can't get myself worked up over most stuff, annoyingly though people around me end up getting annoyed at me becasue I'm not getting upset or annoyed. This can be very frustrating.

The way I see it is if something is happening and it's outside my control, why let it bother me. 1 of 2 things can happen.

1) I get upset and angry and my life, temporarily, gets worse. 2) I don't get upset or angry and my life doesn't change.

In both those cases I can't affect the root cause incident so the only thing that changes is my own happiness.

Why on earth would I then voluntarily reduce my own happiness / state of mind.

If someone flips me off, cuts me up in traffic, sends me an abusive message online etc Why should I care?

So when I have people around me getting annoyed because I'm not getting upset or annoyed by it, I feel like they just want to make sure I'm getting miserable with them. Which is a shitty thing to do to someone.

> You just need to not give a fuck

Given this is an emotional issue, I suspect this is easier said than done for many people. Whether it be physical pain or emotional pain, some people are more sensitive than others.

Apathy is not a healthy approach to life in general. Forcing yourself to feel "meh" about things you really did enjoy once is soul-crushing in itself.

Not giving a fuck isn't the same as apathy.

My personal example which I am working on is cycling. A lot of drivers in the city are arseholes and think I should get out of their way if they are behind me and honk their horn (despite the fact I am a pretty fast cyclist). I used to get annoyed, flip them a finger and start shouting at them and they would usually shout back. That just gets me angry as well and doesn't really benefit anyone.

These days if I get honked at, I try not to get angry. I slow down to indicate that I heard them honking and I am not going to get out of their way just because they think I should. End result is the driver gets angry while I have a chuckle to myself at them for it. That's "not giving a shit".

I don't think @arkh is suggesting apathy, quite the opposite in fact. Enjoy your art and don't give the naysayers a second thought.

This. Try to see the good parts of things.

Someone is cursing you about your work? First, that's just words on a screen so you can close it to not see it. Two, this person bought your production so hey! your bank account feels better. And last you got a vivid reaction out of someone: isn't creating games and art goal to make people feel something? Sometime it is negative but I think the best works are those who you either love or hate. Not the bland ones.

Seeing some good in most things is not an easy mindset to get to. But you can start by doing it as a joke until it can become natural. "Another rainy day" -> Temperature are 0°C and it's good for the plants so let's enjoy those facts. I totaled my car -> I have an excuse to ask a ride-share with some colleagues I fancy until I get a new one.

It is good advice unless you live in a country with a militarised police force. Then you spend time worrying if you or your family may get SWATed...


Part of it might also be which specific game you worked on. The recent battlefront fracas came about because it was a first person shooter, a genre where people are unaccustomed to being psyops'd by the devs, and thus had a fresh and untapped supply of outrage.

Meanwhile looking at your portfolio, Star Wars™ Galaxy of Heroes looks from a distance like your average mobile gacha thing created only to tick another checkbox on the spreadsheet of tie-ins. Just reading the google play store description i end up thinking i would be surprised if its f2p parts weren't horribly abusive.

(Note i'm not saying they are, but what your marketing department did makes it stand out from its brethren in no particular way.)

Death threats and abuse are a non-starter, but working on making more addictive games-cum-casinos should probably come with polite disdain. Given that so much in gaming has become a money grab from kids and people wired to gamble is, a shame.

So... death threats? Doxxing? Abuse? No, never.

Respect for a good job well done? Also no.

Hunting “whales” for vast profits is a good business model, but so is selling tobacco or opening a casino. I don’t know that pandering to addictive personalities, the young, the inexperienced, and the impulsive is a very good use of anyone’s talents. Worse, it’s going to turn s generation off the medium once they realize how abusive it’s becoming.

Not all of the games involved were mtx-based. One was more like "you screwed up the IP I love, die!"

edit: Also, it is profoundly unhelpful to the discussion to say what you said, which is basically "Well, what did you expect, a pat on the back?"

We're talking here about abuse, not constructive criticism. Here's an analogy: Nobody expects an Oscar for working on Transformers 6, but personally subjecting them to online abuse for it is totally unacceptable. There's no need to come into the discussion and remind us that Transformers 6 is not likely to be a very good movie.

Yes, the bad behaviour is well distributed allover the company. You cant blame a single gear for the functionality provided by the human-meat-grinder 40000.

If you really feel the need, blame the dedicated person for blaming, who gets a fortune for doing the Jesus Christ story as CEO.

Assaulting single persons, might be the only way to squeeze a touch of responsibility from a modern company. Touching a nerve is okay, when it leads to a thoroughly rotten teeth - like the pseudo moral everyone in the software world displays in this endless resultless discussions.

Oh, btw, in the next thread somebody is calling for goverment action against addicting games- and all those "abuse is evil" posters, will take a firm libertarian stand there.

If you systematicall disempower people, until only building a howling medieval mob remains- congrats, you reaached your destination.

> We're talking here about abuse, not constructive criticism.

Some F2P is really good and improves the product. (Warframe) That's the exception however and most of it is in fact abusive. As such people upset about it don't expect constructive criticism to get anywhere and engage in behavior that amounts to, in their view, "eye for an eye".

What I said was that everything from abuse to rudeness is simply wrong, and I made that point unambiguously, twice. You are right that I think there should be consequences for abusive practices, but reasonable ones, like what I’m doing right now. Making people feel worthless, insulting them, threatening them... is evil.

As for the people who send death treats over pure design choices, I have nothing, but sympathy for you.

Edit: No excuse for abuse, and I agree with your point about shitty movies. It is worth pointing out however, that movies don’t generally attempt to become lengthy addictions which siphon potentially ruinous sums of money over time; there is generally no attempt at behavior modification for profit.

Got it. I appreciate your point, though I don't fully agree about your characterization of f2p games and/or the developers thereof.

I'm not sure why anyone is surprised about the addictive money grabbing nature of tech which is prevalent. This is a core fundament of the capitalist system. Practically everything is geared towards increasing money. How many people do you know who have an employee/customer health and happiness tracker app compared to a stock price tracker app installed on their phone right now?

As things move away from the real world and towards increased virtualization of everything, it's a lot easier for people to fall prey to "road rage" type of reactions - folks who are otherwise well-behaved and respectable turn into assholes behind the wheel.

Same with the virtual world.

It’s also a bunch of young people, who tend to assume that turning the rhetorical volume up to 11 does something more than inspire disgust. Chan “culture” has not helped. people with the most time to burn are asymmetrically advantaged in this, as are the enraged. Can any of us really compete in terms of obsessive devotion, with a 1-issue poster? An angry, lonely person, a mentally ill person, or a teen with attitude? They’ll burn more cycles screaming than anyone else can or will reasoning, and they’re happy to just be a nuisance, or be heard.

Then you have the hyperfans, who can finally stalk and abuse from an anonymous distance. They don’t need to even leave their hovels to do it, or look someone in the eye. The drunk, the drugged, and the stupid get the same force multiplier from the internet as everyone else, but they have the numbers and the free time.

> An angry, lonely person, a mentally ill person, or a teen with attitude? They’ll burn more cycles screaming than anyone else can or will reasoning, and they’re happy to just be a nuisance, or be heard.

Many years ago, a small country where I live was dominated online by a single mentally ill person. In our country, those day the internet was new and quite slow. This person, originally from our country, was living somewhere in USA or Canada, with full disability for their mental illness, and a very fast internet connection. And they spent the whole day browsing our websites (the dozen major websites we had back then), participating in almost every discussion that contained some of their favorite keywords. And because of the difference in free time available and speed of internet connection, most admins were completely helpless. This person could create a new account and post hundred comments faster than the admins could use their slow modems to ban the account; and the avalanche continued for 16 hours a day, every day.

Yes, insane people have an asymmetrical advantage at online debates, because they spend less time reading and thinking. (In real life, too, but there at least they cannot teleport from one place to another.)

We live in an age of outrage culture, what does anyone expect? The cultural norm nowadays is to get vocally outraged whenever anyone does anything that you even slightly dislike, of course this kind of abuse is the result, it doesn't happen just in the games industry, it happens in society at large too, about most social issues.

I think this is not even the case.

I think these people are arseholes IRL. I think they are just as abusive and prone to road rage type reactions.

I don't think people are reasonable and respectable and suddenly road rage when they jump in the car. They are arseholes all the time, they just can't hide it as well when they drive.

I think they are more visible online only because they just impact less people IRL.

> I think these people are arseholes IRL. I think they are just as abusive and prone to road rage type reactions.

Not sure about "just as abusive". The example abusive messages in that article if delivered in person, face to face, would be met with conflict and increased risk (i.e. physical or emotionally charged confrontation). These trolls are spineless and weak.

Virtual road rage is certainly a large part of this--I always use the analogy that if you have 1000 twitter followers, and they are wonderful people all the time but each one only says one nasty thing a year to you, if they all do it at the same week or whatever it's gonna be brutal.

That said, I think there is also a lot of justified anger.

In a world that is increasingly terrible and hostile in a lot of ways it's really important to have a safe place, a place to unwind and settle down, place where people can tune in and drop out. Video games are really great for this purpose.

But a lot of devs don't seem to recognize that this is an important purpose of their product, either going low-brow capitalist (say, EA or Zynga or Bethesda) or high-brow artiste (Phil Fish, Jonathon Blow) and alienating their playerbase by breaking games in order to create higher profits, by patching games endlessly in the name of "gameplay" (Darkest Dungeon is a great example of this, ditto a lot of Blizzard's stuff), or by taking very public stands against various sacred cows of their customers--that is when they're not actively saying nasty things about their customers. As a gamer, why wouldn't you voice your displeasure at the people who are screwing up your ability to calm down and relax?

Similarly, even on the art angle, a lot of publishers and devs make compromises to push a message or sell a product. Like, can you imagine the backlash at a Holy Bible 3.0: HD Edition 2018, with DLC psalms? Game devs and publishers do this all the time. Imagine you heard they were making Rent 2.0, but everybody was straight and monogamous and only had the flu and were upper-middle class. Even if it was done well, even if it was a good story, it wouldn't be Rent. That's even assuming the change was done expertly--in video games it's usually a studio or a publisher chasing some market demographic or "industry trend" causing that violation of the IP and seldom is it even done well! So, if you're a gamer, why be nice to people that are willingly violating an IP that you love?

Further, on the PR front, gamers have gotten used to being fed thinly veiled bullshit as the industry has "matured". The same flaccid attempts to gloss over bugs or mistakes, the same lame attempts to use identity to sell a game, the same boring controversies and plant articles used to increase air time...it's insulting. So, why have empathy for (some random indie dev) when the industry as a whole is not behaving in good faith? Why not treat every dev communication as a weakly-spun PR gambit? Why show any charity at all?


I agree that this is bad behavior, and I agree that drive-by virtual road rage accounts for a lot of it...but not all of it.

So, if you're a gamer, why be nice to people that are willingly violating an IP that you love?

Why? Because it is devoutly to be wished that you’re a human being with a brain, conscience, and at least a scrap of both empathy and perspective. If you’re so antisocial that you honestly believe that what you described merits abuse, threats, doxxing, etc... you shouldn’t be allowed online by your guardian.

Messing with your beloved IP is not cause to abuse people. An over-dependence on a given entertainment format to calm you is not their problem. Games are, and have been for a long dammed time, mass market entertainment. Mass market. That your particular gospel isn’t being played as constantly as you require it should be, is no one else’s problem, neither should your entitlement be their problem, nor is it license to be rude, cruel, or threatening to people you don’t even really know.

Besides, and this is the main point... your options are not the false dichotomy of “be nice” or “be abusive.” Try ignoring stuff you dislike, or expressing your concerns in constructive ways when it’s not hurting people. Try to remember that being a consumer of something doesn’t mean that anyone owes you more of the same. If your local decides to go vegan and alcohol free, that may suck for you, but they still didn’t owe you anything.

I’d be with you on one point: the endless lines from AAA publishers which amount to, “We released half of a broken game, haha, we already have your money and future updates will only be planned DLC and mometization...” but you’re using it to excuse inexcusable behavior.

I mean, they had the same choice--not to work on fucking up the IP. And they have the potential to create suffering and annoyance to hundreds of thousands of people, instead of just a few people receiving grumpiness on the net.

This is a dynamic that has always existed in art and performance.

And for what it's worth, I don't think the option is "be nice" or "hurl abuse"...there is a distribution of behaviors and I'm suggesting that the more negative ones have their own reasons.

>>I mean, they had the same choice--not to work on fucking up the IP.

This argument always strikes me as something said by a child or a person who never had a job and never had to feed their family ever in their life. I work as a C++ programmer in a games company - I really don't care what you think of the changes that I make, I have a Jira list of tasks to get through and have to pay my bills at the end of the month. If you want to send hate mail to someone, there's a PR email you can contact - normal programmers working 9 to 5 have zero say in design decisions that upset people, nor do they have the time to follow the community - we have PR people for that.

Fine, be angry. Even if the reason for anger was justified, the abuse isn't. Write a scathing blog post, rant on youtube, don't buy future products, organize a boycott. Fine. Death threats, calling people at all hours, swatting them, harassing their employer, egging people on to do these things. That's abuse, and nothing that should ever happen because in your opinion someone "fucked up [their own] ip".

If you feel that somebody "fucked up" a product, don't use that product. It's really that simple, and it can be applied to every aspect of your life, not just games.

This sounds like a lot of industries I've worked in, most of which involve IT. I'm sort of amazed how many people think it's okay to hurl abuse at other people in general. Don't like a completely voluntary video game? Don't buy the next one and stop playing the game. Maybe submit some feedback on what is causing you not to continue playing and move on. I'm both a child and a parent and while there were a few years where I was will of spit and vinegar and mouth off at other people, I've never felt it okay to send the types of comments that some people think are acceptable (I've looked in case my memory was rose-colored).

What amazes me more are the people who bring this attitude into the real world. I've had my job threatened, co-workers physically threatened (I'm apparently somewhat imposing so I don't get physical threats often), screamed at, had someone shoot a nail gun at me...It never ceases to amaze me how people can have so little respect for themselves or others. Kindness literally costs you nothing, and yet it can often be so hard to find.

The mistake is to take the users' comments at face value, IMHO. They are not that upset about a game; something else in their lives is painful for them and they are taking it out on you. They are unable to deal with their emotions otherwise. That perspective can help in a couple of ways:

First, you know it has nothing to do with you or your game; you are just an object, a mental construction, at which they unload their anger; they might as well be talking to the pin-up poster on their wall (or to the pixels which form an enemy on their screen). Second, if you realize these are troubled people who feel powerless; if you have some empathy for them; they lose their power over how you feel. Here's a recent story about the comedian Sarah Silverman taking that approach and going a step further, with amazing results:


Also, it may be important to ask why so many young males (if that's the demographic) have such emotional problems, why so many can't process their emotions effectively and feel so vulnerable. I think we sort of take it for granted that young males (and to a degree, all males) can't process emotions and act out, but I think that's a mistake.

I also wouldn't be surprised if there's a default positive correlation between angry or confrontational gamers (writing abuse or not) and games designed around having "stab your enemy in the face" as part of their marketing and gameplay loop.

That said, the article contains some other examples (like Terraria) which don't fit that mold.

I got a glimpse of this working on my open source Minecraft clone, and it's at least half of the reason that game is sitting on the backburner. Gamers can be a pretty entitled group.

I also see this in the rest of my open source work, to a lesser extent. On the whole I probably get slightly fewer "fuck you"s than I get "thank you"s.

> Gamers can be a pretty entitled group.

Just like sport fans, moviegoers, fooding enthusiasts or people who buy books. In every circle you'll have a tiny loud minority who behaves like crap, it has nothing to do with gaming. You'd think people who buy books have a better education and behavior? People like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King have had plenty of stalkers and death threats, King wrote plenty of books about on subject.

In my experience gamers are a clear outlier.

Compared to what? violent hooligans in football?

Other online communities. I haven't really met any violent holligans in football so I can't compare to that.

Because you think hooligans aren't being mean and hateful online as well? let's not even talk about political circles which have nothing to do with gaming. You are talking from you experience standpoint but you're wrong, there is way worse than gaming communities.

A sample can be simultaneously greater than the mean and less than the maximum.

Well, as a user of your software, let me adjust the balance by one thank-you: thank you for sway.

I'm glad you like it :)


Seriously, I run a bunch of FREE websites and I'm amazed by the stuff that shows up in my inbox. When did it become ok to harass someone running a FREE website?

If you don't like it, hit the frigging back button. And get a life.

This reminds me of an article I read a long while back (I don't remember the title..) that basically argued that by lowering the barrier of entry to your content, be it a game, app, etc., you make it such that others have nothing to lose for slinging mud. IIRC the same article did a study on online free-to-play and subscription games and noticed that games with higher barrier of entry, be it with price or even a lottery system, tend to see more civility in their communities, since people have something to lose if they are banned.

It would be great if someone could link that article in or something.

In my experience the more people pay you the better behaved they are, people who get things for free are the most entitled and abusive.

I would disagree based on experience at a previous workplace. We were paying a Salesforce consultancy a lot of money, so our technically clueless founders thought that gave them a licence to act like arseholes. One consultant had a nervous breakdown after a couple of months.

That’s a bit of a different relationship. The ability to fire the consultant changes the power dynamic.

"I want [something] and I want it now."

This is what I hear from reading most of those angry tweets/comments.

Sadly, sometimes they are simply shouting because the game is not what they were hyped about. Maybe we are over-hyping games to get pre-orders in? I remember a time when the first time I heard about a game was when it was actually on the store shelves (good ol' boxes). Now there are dev-blogs and the likes years before a game is actually going to release...

The thing is marketing a game does not justify death threats, rape threats, doxxing or even personal insults. Poor user reviews, not buying a game, refunds and civil complaints should be enough to signal that a game isn't good enough. If making a game to the best of your ability, marketing it, and not quite hitting the bar for a subset of gamers justifies abuse then I'd recommend developers stop making games. There are better job options that don't subject people to that level of abuse. If you made abusive comments toward startup founders because the MVP doesn't live up to the hype of the landing page on HN you'd get banned or at least heavily downvoted, I don't see why game developers should tolerate that kind of abuse.

That's victim blaming. Hype is irrelevant. The problem here is not just entitlement, it's that some people feel perfectly ok leveling abuse at other people. This isn't a new phenomenon. There's always been a subset of "I need to speak to the manager" folks who have been willing to treat individuals doing certain jobs in an inhumane and abusive fashion. Today the boundaries on those sorts of interactions are drastically changing, and the levels of abuse that are commonplace have grown much greater. A fast food worker running into an irate customer who avows that they will kill them and rape their family has always been an extraordinarily rare occurrence, today that sort of behavior is commonplace in many contexts and especially in the realm of game development. That doesn't mean everyone is doing it, but the fact that it's tolerated and ubiquitous means that it has a universal impact on those affected.

I guess it's not just game developers, I work with my team in finance sector on a customer portal and we also get almost similar level of feedback from some people... But we have millions of users. I like to think that at this scale we can't avoid to have some of those guys.

I was going to write something insightful but then realized that yeah, people are just being incredibly rude when they provide feedback in that manner, to the point that their comments are not useful as feedback.

This is just an ugly side of humanity that has always been there, but is magnified by the combination of anonymity, disenfranchisement, and ever more addicting Skinner-box style entertainment.

We are a tribal species; in the past this type of behavior would be socialized out of you or else you would be a recluse. You didn't have the opportunity to sit in your own filth and project your self-loathing onto anyone across the Internet.

As a species we're just not emotionally equipped to deal with the current reality.

That's a cop-out. This isn't genetic, this isn't universal, this is a cultural trend.

A cop-out? No, it's an explanation. How are you going to reverse the trend? First you have to understand the underlying factors. It's incredibly naive to think this type of impulse never existed before just because it's permanently recorded and visible for the first time.

Humans aren't feral, their patterns of behavior are dictated by culture, education, etc, regardless of "impulses". People may have impulses to hurt or steal from others, but those impulses can be controlled and the impacts of those impulses can be diminished on society. Socio-cultural norms and education teach people that there are other ways to get what you want than theft, for example, and provide strong discouragement against engaging in such "anti-social" behavior. On top of that there are legal proscriptions against such behavior. All of this adds together to massively reduce the level of murder, rape, and theft in civilized humans vs. hypothetical feral human populations.

And the same dynamics can occur with individuals hurling abuse online. Those individuals could experience consequences for their actions (from twitter, valve, potentially the criminal justice system in some cases, etc.) from institutions as well as from society as a whole. Telling a game developer "I will rape you!" should be an action that dramatically curtails the perpetrators career options and results in losing friends, but today it doesn't.

Sure, people hold dark impulses inside them routinely, everyone understands that. That doesn't mean they are uncontrollable. This is a recent phenomenon, which itself is proof enough that it is not due to some uncontrollable universal urge.

How do you hold people accountable without compromising anonymity, though? And if you compromise anonymity, how do you avoid a chilling effect on those who depend on it for e.g., political activism? Seems like a dilemma to me.

Anonymity isn't an issue for some of these things.

For example, when you're interacting in a customer service context on, say, steam, you are not anonymous. Valve can change its TOU to make it so that you forfeit all claims to redress if you use abuse during a customer service interaction, and can further scale that up to include additional consequences (banning you from participation in certain ways or from certain benefits).

Additionally, "in band" consequences don't have to compromise anonymity. On twitter or facebook, for example, you can have abuse reports that are verified result in different levels of account restriction. You can make it so that the account's posts are no longer visible in other people's timelines as replies, for example (e.g. they are only visible to people who specifically follow that user or when specific posts are linked to directly). You can restrict accounts in other ways and even block access to accounts for short periods of time. Or you can ban people forever. All of these techniques have been used for years and years to prevent abusive behavior, the only reason they haven't been used effectively against this particular sort of abuse is because of apathy on the part of most platform owners, but that can change easily.

I don’t think this is a trend at all. Just go to a baseball game and you’ll see plenty of people yelling invectives at the umpire and players. That’s not new at all.

Road rage is another related symptom. There’s something special about pseudo-anonymity than enables a small percentage of people to act like jerks.

The horrible comments are just a function of anonymity at scale.


This is not about criticism this is about abuse. They are entirely different things. "Free speech" is also mostly irrelevant here. Nobody has the rights to dox or make threats of rape or homicide. Indeed, many of these behaviors are illegal but there's not much that can be done about them because the police don't have the resources to deal with them.

The bulk of the article is about reacting to largely inchoate disapproving reviews. Furthermore, those reviews (according to one post quoted in the article) make up one-tenth of one percent of disapproving reviews. That suggests it's quite easy to find a lot of reviews that aren't screeds. The article does a very poor job of explaining why it's worth taking such a small minority of angrily-worded reviews so personally.

Surprisingly, the part of the article that comes close to talking about what you brought up gets very little coverage and doesn't start the article (burying the lede). There too, according to the article, those posts (which you refer to) make up "an even smaller proportion". So those posts which might justifiably concern not only aren't featured prominently in the article, but constitute an indefinably smaller portion of what was already vaguely described as small. One has to wonder why the language you're talking about isn't the basis for the article. Seems a shame to focus on petty namecalling if publishing someone else's address presumably to encourage the public to shame or harass them in person or to "try and find their family" (quoting the article) presumably for some in-person dealing is commonplace. I don't know if that's the case, and neither your reply nor the article help anyone determine how frequent that is.

The article claims "What I’m drawing attention to here is the normalisation of online abuse — both from the perspective of content creators and from the point of view of the audience. It is now, for a significant part of our audience, the way in which they communicate with creators.". That's an evidenceless innumerate claim from the article which very much needs some backing. We simply aren't given information we need to make sense of the claims. What constitutes "normalisation"? How much is "significant"?

But what we are given is propaganda -- "creators" -- a word used to compare the programmer to a deity so as to "elevate authors' moral standing above that of ordinary people" (as https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Creator explains), which is preposterous. They're programmers or software developers, working people who sometimes write programs some people don't like and less than 1% of whom (we're told) express themselves very poorly.

You are going well beyond the article with your evidenceless claims about the police, police resources, and everyone's speech rights.

Focusing on rape and homicide threats here.

I assume they are a very small proportion of feedback. On the other hand, in my current non-game-development career, customers never threaten to rape or kill me. Never ever! It's never happened!

It's great that people threatening rape or homicide comprise less than 1% of game customers and not 20% or 50% or 80%. But a little goes a long way, when it comes to people threatening to rape or kill you. Many people are going to treat those threats as a significant incentive to stay out of game development.


HINT: This post was ironic

I have no idea what it was but it wasn't civil and substantive, so please don't post like that.


Well, try to publish an academic paper, and prepare for abuse in the form of reviews. At some point you need to learn to just shrug it off and focus on your work. Same is true for making games, I guess.

Do reviews of academic papers typically come in the form of "Hello, FUCK YOU - people do not read this SJW paper, it is retarded and a piece of crap"?

Different words are used, but the meaning is sometimes the same

"Hello, FUCK YOU" would be an improvement over some of the the passive-aggressive backstabbing I've seen.

It's like, at least you'd know...

I'm sure that negative feedback on research papers hurts, and that there is more emotional vitriol thrown in there than necessary for constructive criticism, but I highly doubt it's comparable to the type of abuse gamers send game designers on-line, let alone that researchers have to worry about death threats and doxxing from fellow researchers.

Public backlash to controversial research is another topic entirely of course

What we need is to take a page from Uber and have user-side ratings along with the producer-side ratings. A forum like steam could let producers or peers downvote gamers and then producers could choose to not sell games to people whose ratings are too low.

Something tells me there may be an inherent danger to isolating these people further.

You may be on to something, but perhaps restricting sales is not the best use of user-ratings.

I've often wondered if weighing a producer-side rating against the user-side rating could work (e.g. a user with a low rating can give a 1 star review yet have little effect on the game rating).

Slight aside, but:

> Would you sign up for a job where you get screamed at all day, every day? Why would you go through that, when there are a million other fields where that doesn’t happen?

The amount of customer service rep/call center jobs we have answers this with a "Yes", I think.

(Not taking into account the reasons people sign up for those jobs though. Probably not because it's their passion...)

When I was younger there was a popular line of thinking that the typical highschool job in customer service was where people learned to grow up into the kind of people that wouldn't yell at customer service. It sounded like the kind of thing that could be true, but was certainly the kind of thing you want to be true if you have one of those jobs. I've recently been thinking it has merit.

-Having someone directly in my face yelling at me over a couple of dollars made it a practical necessity to cultivate in myself an industrial-strength version of "you can't control other people, you can only control how you react to them." And that includes calibrating your level of fear to the actual level of risk. Even if all you are is a wimpy teen somehow made shift lead, ya gotta look a scary motherfucker in the eyes and tell them "No," when the only thing you've got to defend yourself is "Get out or we're calling the cops."

-My sense of how to treat others is based on concepts of shared humanity. When someone is screaming at you, there ain't time or good reason to try and empathize with them. But you can't stoop to their level, either. So peg a bare minimum for behavior as a personal standard, and then try to live up to the standard. -- Consequently, I don't understand the trendy ideas on empathizing that posit I have to cultivate a personal connection before I can determine "oh yeah, it turns out I shouldn't be a prick to this person, either."

In all seriousness, no, I don't think so. They get some of that, but not all day, every day.

I shadowed a call center person for an hour at a Fortune 500 company. None of the calls were like that. They do get such calls. We talked about that. But, no, it is not exclusively what they deal with.

Retail it's not all day, every day but not uncommon either. The military can be that way though I guess it is expected a bit. Lots of jobs include abuse.

I'm sure this is worse for game devs but I think it affects anybody that creates customer-facing apps. The culture of rudeness and entitlement among customers today is very deep rooted. It's one of several reasons why it's smarter to build B2B businesses.

> Abuse is the cost of doing business.

Reading the article, that's the guy behind Firewatch. I think the problem is not his games but his social media use. I'd wager most of this abuse he received was after he DMCAed pewdiepie after pdp used the word nigga while playing. People don't like devs who have a "stream our game all you want it's free publicity for us" message when launching it and use spurious DMCA claims on people they don't like.

Maybe the problem are people who decided to make the video game industry woke and all about US centric politics. Or maybe the huge difference between the author and his father is "social" media and giving a damn about what is written there.

I left the industry because of the entitled behaviour of the community.

Do all game devs experience similar types of abuse, or only the devs of games with environments in which the developer's company is attempting to monetize the player as they move through the game?

For example-- there is some beautiful sidescroller game I've seen where the animation looks like old-school Fleischer studio cartoons. Do devs of games like that get abuse from players, too?

Yes - look at the tweets in the article. I've played Don't Starve Together and Terraria, and neither of them have any in-game monetization. Those are also both family-friendly games. Don't Starve has a cartoony art style, too.

I can't speak for the other games. Strangely, the tweets don't either. They're not like "I am angry about this particular feature", they're like <word salad of swear words>.

Terraria (178k followers) and Don't Starve (63k followers) get this stuff because they have the kind of playerbase size that makes people feel like the devs won't ever see their message anyhow. They tried to ask for stuff, or saw others try and didn't even see evidence that the devs saw the question. So they figure it's fine to just yell at the ocean.

The first tweet they link to is directed at the makers of 'Firewatch', which doesn't have any in-app purchases at all.


If Firewatch isn't safe, I'm not sure anything is.

The Firewatch devs took a public stand on the Pewdiepie drama and got hit in the head as a result. It went far beyond Twitter harassment and their Steam reviews got bombarded with negative reviews. The hate campaign they got has nothing to do with their development or business practices.

Thanks for providing some context. I don't know what they expected getting involved in YouTube drama (which is essentially like pissing in a sea of piss).

> took a public stand

it was also a declaration to "dmca takedown" his content even though permission have very explicitly been given. (this seems like it could be legally problematic, but not sure)... also publicly called for other game developers to participate in similar actions. seemed like some questionable ethics.

No idea, but there was a bunch of articles and probably related tweets accusing this game developer of racism because of the era their animation style is an homage to.

I'm very much tired of articles whose sole basis for existing is random fucking tweets. You can always find bad ones, from every sect of society. Deranged scribblings on walls did not used to be worthy of news articles.

> old-school Fleischer studio cartoons...

Sounds like the game you are referring to is Cuphead in which case I am pretty sure the devs for that game are getting plenty of abuse from players.

> there is some beautiful sidescroller game I've seen where the animation looks like old-school Fleischer studio cartoons. Do devs of games like that get abuse from players, too?

You're probably talking about Cuphead. Yes, the devs have gotten an enormous amount of abuse from that game.

> Do devs of games like that get abuse from players, too?

Yes, without a doubt. It's a huge problem.

Several of the devs tweeted at in the article (camposanto and klei at the very least) are being tweeted at over games which have traditional (ie non microtransaction based) business models.

Let's assume for the moment that players only send abuse to devs who excessively monetize games (but you're wrong about that): it's still wrong. It's still not acceptable to tell someone that they should die in a fire.

Check out Fez

Seems like most of the abuse could be avoided by leaving Twitter.

i suppose a couple questions might cause some people to infer otherwise, so to be clear: it's not implying the behavior is "fine" or shouldn't be critically analysed.

ok. so, things like online death threats and other such things get talked about a lot, and i have two main questions:

a) what kind of conversion rate is there - that is, threats being acted upon (how many threats vs how many events)?

b) has there been any analysis that shows these threats are credible and should be considered as demonstrating legitimate danger?

(again, this isn't to meant to excuse such behavior.)

my question stems from the fact that there is a rather long standing "internet gaming culture" which provides a context for hyperbolic aggressive commentary and interpersonal behavior, that some people may not be familiar with. for example, for as long as i can remember (i started with quake 3 over modem) to lose a match was to 'get raped'. to go on a win streak was to be 'fucking raping everyone'.

my thinking is that the vast, overwhelming majority of 'death threats' are hyperbolic and aggressive, but also utterly throwaway comments void of danger. as a consequence, talking about real world fear and even actions (like moving house) doesn't really garner a sympathetic reaction from many in the internet gaming culture, because it (from their perspective) demonstrates either significant naivete and ignorance, or some kind of intellectual dishonesty (given the idea that the threats do not represent an actual danger).

I have followed dreams that became unsatisfying. But I can tell you life can survive a dream. And enjoying life doesn't have to be difficult. I did do some indie game work but because of my own incompetence I could not make sense of the business. Fortunately I have gathered skills which had value elsewhere. And you can always have the satisfaction of knowing what the dream really was all about. Sadly most of us never even try.

Isn't this just overstimulated people having their gratification loop interrupted? I guess gamers are more likely to be this way. Even the ones that aren't so shrill seem to enjoy watching others act it out for them on twitch.

I can't help but wonder how much this is rooted in general distress out in the world. If you feel you can't control your life at all and a game is your escape, controlling that can take on an excess of importance.

Four years after Gamergate, how can this be news to anyone?

I don’t understand what forces devs to participate directly in this public discourse. Barring those so small they can’t hire someone to run interference, why precisely are you publicly interacting with your customers?

Anyone who works with the mass public, be they cashiers or physicians, knows damn well that the Public is terrible. Don’t give them a hotline into your head.

Did you read the article? He laid it out pretty clearly:

> All of this is hardest on indies for two reasons. Firstly, because they are generally at the coal face of their games. They don’t have a marketing person standing between the hostile feedback and their work — it all comes in direct and unfiltered. Secondly most indies don’t make mass market games that appeal to the broadest cross section of players, and that include every feature under the sun.

Lots of book authors and other artists who have to "promote" themselves on social media run into similar issues.

Did you read my comment?

“Barring those so small they can’t hire someone to run interference,”

Let’s both appreciate the moment.

Can you please not engage in flamewars on Hacker News? You've arguably crossed the line in this thread, and it's quite unnecessary.


You're assuming that game developers want to live in some sort of isolated ivory tower.

Everyone I knew who got into the industry did it to share the joy that gaming brought them to other people. It's an explicitly social industry in that respect.

Also, I don't know of a single place that can afford to run interference for every single dev. Even on the large AAA stuff I worked on we were lucky to have 1 or 2 marketing people who were even aware the dev team existed.

I’m assuming no such thing. I’m saying this is a “have your cake and eat it too” issue. Either you’re accessible to millions or you arent, and that choice comes with benefits and drawbacks. If one can’t handle the drawbacks of being publicly accessible to millions, one should go to great pains to prevent that, rather than lamenting the inevitable - and I do mean inevitable - long tail of jerks.

And when I say “run interference,” I mean “handle all public interactions for the product, which your devs shouldn’t be involved in at all, because they’re devs, not marketers.”

While what you're saying may be true, maybe we should be questioning why this kind of communication is considered acceptable and without consequence in the gaming community.

Whether it’s acceptable isn’t the point. If 70% of people do it, it’s acceptable. If .1% of people do it, it’s not - but if you’re taking .1% of a very large number, the result is untenable for those on the receiving end.

This is a problem -without- requiring it to be acceptable behavior.

It's ok to be an asshole because it's over the internet? These people wouldn't say what they're saying to others in real life.

It's a serious problem with online interactions, especially in the gaming field where people get unreasonably passionate and there's a lot of sexually frustrated young men needing to vent their anger.

Hell, I've been an asshole here on HN, I know I have been, it's so much easier to be without seeing someone's face.

It doesn't make it ok or acceptable though, and unfortunately I feel I have to downvote and speak against you because what you're doing is defending hate and evil. It shouldn't have to be a cost of business, it's not business, it's an unfortunate side effect of the free and open and anonymous internet. It doesn't mean we should accept it though.

No, it’s not OK to be an ass because it’s on the Internet. Since I didn’t say that, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t take a jab at straw men. In fact, I didn’t say a word about the people being jerks - but about the practicalities of being, in effect, a celebrity.

When you’re on a platform serving an arbitrarily large number of people, even a vanishingly small percentage of them amount to more toxicity than a single recipient can handle. That’s the asymmetry of celebrity, and has nothing at all to do with whether the toxic behavior is acceptable or not. It’s a large numbers issue.

Dealing with toxic people is a guaranteed consequence of opening yourself up to communication with millions. Yes, it -is- the cost of celebrity, and always has been. It’s just the weird nature of the internet that the nature of “celebrity” has changed.

Right, you are simply saying, “if they don’t want to be abused they should hide”

I am saying, “if you don’t want the drawbacks of celebrity, don’t engage with masses of people.”

Unless you have unlimited time or financial resources, you can't make a great game without having a dialog with your audience. Game developers' instincts are not infallible and they need to be able to get feedback and suggestions from their audience. Unfortunately, some of that feedback might be 'die in a fire.'

edit: And there's also the matter of games with live service components, where you're in a state of constantly tweaking the game based on feedback, potentially for years.

Games have credits. Developers have Twitter accounts. Devs are excited about their work, share what they are working on. The devs are not seeking these interactions at all.

All of my patients know my name. It’s on a badge, with a picture ID and all. This includes drug seekers, people looking for a suit, a handout, and just a general smattering of crazy folks. Yet they don’t manage to find my fb, my Twitter, my LinkedIn.

Part of this is that devs plug deeply into social media, personally and professionally, and have few (or no) firewalls between the two.

Unless you -have- to be the public face of a product, your professional media interactions shouldn’t be accessible to the masses. Your private definitely shouldn’t be. They need to be heavily firewalled. If I can trivially message the lead dev of my favorite game, he’s done something wrong. If I can reach him on a private account he can’t just burn or ignore, he’s done a lot wrong.

The internet hosts the majority of people on earth: it’s a very, very long tail of crazy, poorly socialized, immature, etc. There is no changing that if you are accessible to seven billion people, some tiny percent of that will amount to an overwhelming amount of shit.

The answer is jealously guarding your privacy and communications channels, which isn’t something I’ve seen in these discussions.

Im not trying to victim blame here. I just don’t see as fruitful lamenting something that boils down to “dealing with the public en masse sucks.” It does, and it will:

Think about scale. A good indie game might have hundreds of thousands or millions of players. Is that the same order of magnitude of patients you see?

No, of course it isn’t.

But then, I’m pseudonymous or anonymous everywhere, and do my level best to keep my pseudonyms unrelated to one another across multiple platforms.

As opposed to letting my patients trivially connect my real name to my various social media channels.

> No, of course it isn’t.

Then maybe it's time to put down the keyboard and listen to the experiences of the people who have found some level of success.

When you've shipped a title that's moderately successful you're more then welcome to come back here and tell us how were doing it all wrong. Until then I find it hard to listen to the advice of someone who can't empathize with what is happening here.

Comments like this are equivalent to saying you cannot criticize a football players performance because you've never won a championship. It's illogical on many levels.

Do you need to constantly network so you can get a new job as a doctor if your next big release fails and your employer / project folds?

I mean, kind of?

Not to and with patients, but certainly to and with other docs and healthcare executives. The age of “I open a private practice and work there until I die” came to an end about a decade ago. Never mind requiring a constant stream of referrals. I have to network pretty constantly.

It's a big deal that games have credits, because they didn't always. However, as a person who works on popularish internet services, I'm pretty happy my name isn't published as a developer of it -- even just polite people trying to get customer support would be an avalanche of communications anywhere I use my name (although I share a name with a Pulitzer Prize winning author, so it's harder to find me).

Promotion is vital to an indie game-dev. If they don't spread information about their game via the usual social media channels it will sit untouched and unknown. It is a super necessary part of modern entrepreneurship.

let me introduce you to mobygames: http://www.mobygames.com/game/xbox-one/disney-infinity-30-ed...

like movies, games have credits. entertainment products (movies, games, music, books, etc.) have traditionally been about following talent around to find more work by them. we're all basically entertainers.

that, and angry gamers can chase down people to yell at. especially the higher you are in the responsibility chain, the easier you are to find. linkedin makes sure of that. resumes and all that. because, you know, game devs want jobs, too.

this often means game developers don't have the choice to not be derided in public. not unless step one to joining a game team is the switch your entire life to "private". delist your home address. everything. and, i know plenty of devs who've had to. we all shrug and say, "man, that sucks."

because the difference between making games and making boring, insurance middleware? nobody really cares about enterprise middleware as craft. nobody wants to do it, much less thinks they can do it better.

EVERYONE passionately thinks/hopes/wishes/wants to make better games than you.

(. . . well, maybe not everyone, but certainly a whole lotta folks)

This is just something that happens when you put something out into the world. I had a project I worked on reviewed by a major newspaper as, "At best obscure, at worst ridiculous." That (temporarily) stung worse than "CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT" ever would.

The difference is that the newspaper doesn't actively send you their review hundreds of times per hour, or try to discover your personal information and intimidate you with insinuations of what they could do to you directly.


I think if your emotional reaction to a developer not developing their game in the way that you want is "hatred" you should probably consider that you might be overreacting?

Or, even better, he can create his own game. One that can fit his requirements to a T.

Don't cry, dear, I didn't post any bad comments about your game, it wasn't me :) "Go create your own {product}" is so childish response.

this usage of 'dear' seems passive-aggressive.

why is it okay to demand a game designer to not design as they wish? in comparison, is it okay to demand that musicians not compose the music as they wish?

I answered to passive-aggressive. Is it common in game industry to think user is always wrong?

I think if developers are ignoring feedback for months they should expect overreacting.

Why? In what world do people have to respond to unsolicited commentary?

In this one. If you really don't care about feedback and (polite and constructive) commentaries are unsolicited - you deserve hateful feedback.

I think this attitude is likely to achieve the polar opposite to what you say you'd like to happen.

Be sure, your attitude is a reason why gamers think that developers are too arrogant to communicate.

It’s a very normal expectation that unsolicited communication may not be responded too. That non-response is met with indignation and threats only tells me that not responding was the wisest course of action as anything short of complete agreement is likely to result in the same. What I’d like platforms to do is stop normalising this abusive behaviour so that creators can engage with fans who aren’t going to abuse them at the drop of a hat.

why are the expected 'to communicate'?


> that teaches people to show a little class

Are you serious? This will get you labeled as a "SJW" and then the crazies will DEFINITELY flock to you and try to Dox you. That's the easiest way to get a target painted on your back.

If there's one thing on the internet that is dangerous, it is deciding to have social commentary in today's political environment.

Show, don't tell. Do it right, and no one will even notice what you're up to...

Yawn. A lot of professions deal with this. I work in high frequency trading, and i get told I'm the Devil by people multiple times a week including major publications. But i love what i do and nobodys unintelligent abuse is going to change that.

You get told to "hang yourself" and told you should "die screaming" or just have someone yelling "cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt" at you multiple times a week?

I used to work for a hedge fund. Mostly people just didn't understand it and were skeptical, but phrased it in a way that gave me an out: "I don't understand how it provides any value to society," or things like that. Nobody ever harassed me online with just "cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt".

> The big issue here is that when you speak to players (and I have, a lot), a large number of them would agree with this statement “There are times when it’s reasonable to send personal abuse to a developer,” although they differ on when those times are.

Seems disingenuous. Without qualifying what those times are, it's logical that almost anyone would agree with that sentiment on some level. Did the developer take a drug-fueled sex tourism jaunt with your Kickstarter donation? Yeah that person probably deserves a little abuse.

> And what will happen when the best established developers and most talented up-and-comers decide that it’s not?

I think that gaming is probably the last industry that will suffer from something like this. There's always going to be a glut of people that want to work on games/in gaming.

I don't think this editorial really says anything. Some people on the Internet are loud assholes. Game developers put themselves on the Internet. Ergo, some people on the Internet are going to be loud assholes to game developers.

You can find someone complaining about anything:






This has been a problem for decades, and probably ages before that:


Loud, angry, vocal minorities tend to drown out the majority. If you can't ignore that, you'll never succeed.

I've seen a few indie developers actively antagonize so called gamers.

I've seen abusive companies like EA get rightfully called out.

So Im skeptical of the depth of the claims, but I believe there are a few crazies.

I've ran a few foreign tax information websites, and I got extraordinary death threats very graphic and very detailed.

I think the internet really allows the mentally ill to scream for the attention they desperately want.

Do you think the type of abuse that EA received was appropriate?

The answer is: Absolutely not. Remember when Mass Effect: Andromeda came out and the facial animation system was broken? Some enterprising players looked through the game credits, found a woman they thought was responsible for said animations, and personally harassed her about it.

If you think this abuse is limited to complaining about loot boxes, you're wrong; it isn't.

That article was signal boosted by every indie game dev I know of so I wouldn't dismiss it so casually.

A thousand raging jerks treating random employees like shit because they think the game they made is somehow abuse.

Zero people tweeting about the abuse the employees suffer for being in never-ending crunch time until their studio folds.

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