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IGDA looking into support groups for developers harrassed by fans

Friday, 16 August 2013 15:23 GMT By Dave Cook

The International Game Developers Association executive director Kate Edwards has revealed that the group is looking into starting support groups for developer harassed by fans. The group believes that abuse directed at developers by gamers is on the cusp of damaging the industry.

As part of a feature by Polygon, Nathan Fisk – lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – told the site, “I think fans harass developers for a range of reasons, but again, it is always about power and position.

Co-author of ‘Bullying in the Age of Social Media’ Fisk added, “Fans are invested in the stories and worlds that developers create, and certain design decisions can be seen by fans to threaten those stories and worlds. Harassment silences and repositions content creators in ways that protect the interests of certain fan groups, which again is no justification for the kinds of abusive behavior and language seen online today.”

Suggesting that online anonymity has a part to play in the abuse, Fisk continued, “There are groups of fans harassing developers and representatives, and it can be assumed that very few (if any) of those fans have actually met those developers in person. Further, game developers are in many ways becoming public figures as they openly interact with gaming communities, and social networking technologies have made making contact a simple process.”

It follows a torrent of abuse aimed at Call of Duty: Black Ops 2′s David Vonderhaar over changes in one of the game’s balancing patches, which in turn prompted a response from BioShock Infinite’s Ken Levine.

On the other hand, Fisk added that indie devs may also have a hard time suddenly becoming public figures thrust into scrutiny at the hands of games. “In particular, I think that the game developers — more recently independent developers — are struggling with becoming public figures.

“I also suspect that problems with online harassment have long been a problem for the gaming industry, but with the level of visibility provided by platforms such as Twitter and the growing public concern over various forms of harassment among gamers, that industry representatives are no longer willing to quietly ignore harassing or threatening comments.”

Check out the full piece for even more insight from Fisk and former BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler, who left the studio this week after a hail of abuse from gamers over her work on Dragon Age 2.

Personally, as someone who has to face a mountain of slung shit from the internet on a daily basis just for reporting the news, I have to admit that I don’t envy any developer taking this kind of abuse from the game-playing public.

In short, it fucking sucks.

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44 Comments

  1. Goffee

    Stuff that, they should be looking at a trans-national effort to track down the scum posting these messages and sending the region’s constabulary around to give them a good kicking/psychometic evaluation/lobotomy or whatever is prevalent in under local jurisdiction.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Christopher Jack

    Or those that can’t hack the ‘tards shouldn’t be involved in social networking.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    @2 Just like female gamers shouldn’t have to put up with sexism, developers shouldn’t have to put up with constant abuse from people. You underestimate juste how extreme some of these people can be.

    To quote what I said in another thread, “Nobody should ever *have* to do something about of another person’s assholeness.”

    Victim blaming is a bullshit mentality. The victim is never the one at blame.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. TheVoiceOfReason

    @2 pretty sure anyone who uses the term “‘tards” is part of the problem been addressed here.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @2 I’d say that’s not fair at all. So people should avoid social networks because of the abuse they get?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    It’s shit like everything mentioned above that makes it genuinely hard for me to log on to this job some mornings. Can’t believe how utterly nasty some people can be if I do something as small as a typo or say I report on a Microsoft story, I’ve been accused of being an Xbox 360 fan boy, or paid off by MS.

    Fucking madness so it is. It’ll be the thing that drives me away from working in the industry. I’m sure of it.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. karma

    Those devs have my sympathy, after all a good many of us gamers know exactly what its like to have malicious abuse thrown our way over a multiplayer game.

    All I can say is, perhaps if these games didn’t allow it to flourish in the first place, it wouldn’t have gotten to the stage it has.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Djoenz

    My initial reaction was wtf is this serious? but I can understand it. On the other hand this is the internet so deal with it. That woman from DA2 got a hail of abuse?

    Isnt this the responsability of the social media medium?
    Like Twitter etc.

    Anonimity on the net or not be careful people from the industry.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. SplatteredHouse

    From the source of this article, a point that caught my eye – “I could go on and on about this, but I’m just going to consider one example: the word ‘noob.’ If you decide to take up almost any other hobby in the world, you can find beginning classes teaching you how to do it. If you want to knit, you can go to a yarn store and meet fellow knitters who will help you get the basics. If you want to play basketball, you can join a rec center or community league at a beginner level. And generally, the people already involved in those hobbies are thrilled to have someone with whom they can share their passion. But if you want to get started as a gamer, you get told, ‘go home noob,’ because people in this hobby hate newcomers so much they turned the word itself into an insult. How are we supposed to thrive as an industry if we are actively hostile to growing our audience?”

    Inclusion vs exclusion – which is more likely to maintain the wheels turning and the lights staying on.
    The comments from the IGDA director that was interviewed do sound like this may be just the start we hear of this.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Djoenz

    @9
    Generalisation! Ive always helped out ppl in games and got help too!

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Ireland Michael

    @6 I got out of the field for that very reason.

    Putting all your time and energy into researching stuff, writing about and talking about the hobby that you enjoy more than anything else… only to be responded to with nothing but strings of verbal abuse, threats, animosity, indignity… you name it.

    Sometimes it feels like nobody has anything to say online unless its negative. “Positivity? Respect? Fuck that!”

    Personally, I couldn’t hack it. It doesn’t sit well with my personal identity, and its an atmosphere I refused to continue exposing myself to. I commend anyone who can put up with it. Female writers get it especially bad.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. VibraniumSpork

    “Fans are invested in the stories and worlds that developers create” – it’s just a mystery why they have to be such assholes about it.

    Maybe it’s just an age thing. When I was younger (mid-to-late-teens) I lived, breathed, slept music and comics. If you didn’t ‘get’ NOFX or Spawn, in my mind you were a Goddamn idiot and probably deserved to live under a bridge in a Dunce Cap for the rest of your sad, pathetic little life.

    Then I grew up, let go of all that angst and partisan BS and just grew to live and let live…but I got lucky. There was no Twitter or Facebook for me to vent my bile on back then…if I was a teen today, I’m pretty sure I’d be just as much of an odious little prick, I’d just have a bigger Megaphone to use when I got on my soapbox.

    NOFX still rule though btw. Spawn…not so much.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. FeaturePreacher

    This seems pretty pointless. But I guess some people are new to the internet.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. SplatteredHouse

    @10: Well, maybe it is a generalisation. But, it’s also a commonly-held impression, and it didn’t spring up either out of thin air, or overnight. It’s intended to show a stark contrast.
    An uncommon difference between gaming, and the majority of other hobbies. It is also a generalisation that has grown to colour people’s opinion of what YOU do, even if you yourself are not behaving and acting in a similar way. Of course, though, the reach and effect of that impression differs by generation, and individual.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Dave Cook

    @11 spot on. It’s sometimes impossible to get people to understand that we’re fans of gaming as much as they are. It’s why we do this job in the first place and it’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, despite what some people think.

    Some of it isn’t even trolling, it’s nasty, horrid abuse and anger from the gullets of folk with little better to do than slam people for doing their jobs.

    And yes, I can’t imagine how worse it’d be if I were female.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @13 what an idiotic thing to say.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    @13 “Its the Internet” stopped being a valid excuse years ago, if it was ever one to begin with.

    @15 Just ask any of your female friends about the degree of sexism they’ve had to deal with in the workforce over the years, and how it affects them personally… then throw that on top of the kind of crap you have to put up with daily. That’ll give you a rough idea.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Djoenz

    I can understand why I dislike so many people on the internet. All this negativity is bad for me. Im a genuine good guy but got bullied on the net as well.

    I try to ignore them but yeah sometimes its hard to do so. IRL I can hold on my own better than on the internet. It just ruins the fun. . Im on the internet to escape reality to find out people can be more toxic than irl cause safely behind keyboards ppl tend to be hot shots while irl are the biggest pussies ever.

    Dave keep ya head up man haters gonna hate!

    #18 2 years ago
  19. YoungZer0

    @6: “if I do something as small as a typo”

    To be fair I’ve seen VG247 staff react rather nasty to people who simply point out typos too.

    That said, I’ve seen a lot of nasty and negative comments towards the staff here for no fucking reason at all and I really don’t see a reason of why people should have to deal with this kind of abusive behaviour.

    Just please don’t let this be one of those one-sided argument like Ireland wants it to be. It’s not just women who are verbally abused on the internet. I know you experienced a lot of that too, Dave.

    I think VG247 has to step up its game too. If you want a healthy community, you have to do your part as well. I’m not surprised why this site has it’s fair share of trolls and assholes and why those people seem to think it’s okay to talk in this manner.

    When you continue to let people like backup and Da Man write their stuff on this website, you have to deal with the consequences. Consequences being: People see that nasty comments seem to fine and will post nasty comments in return.

    It will spread like corruption if you don’t put a stop to it.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    @19 “Just please don’t let this be one of those one-sided argument like Ireland wants it to be.”

    Excuse me?

    “It’s not just women who are verbally abused on the internet.”

    Where did I even remotely state that was the case? I was simply empathising with the fact that women have it even worse than men do. Dave agreed. I never said men don’t have to deal with it.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. deathm00n

    You should all just STFU and accept the internet LOL LOL

    Just kidding people, just kidding, I’m a funny guy remember.

    But yeah, the hate in the gaming community is absurd. I have a friend who was with those that hated DMC, and he can’t even explain why he hated it, just because everyone was hating it, he jumped aboard. And he even finished the game… It’s like sometimes there’s a mindless mob that go out to get new followers on the hate parade. Instead of showing valid agurments at things they don’t like, discussing with others why they don’t like it, the majority just go and do those horrible comments. And don’t get started on trolls…

    But I agree with @12, a great part of it is coming from teens, I’m not aged myself (20) and I noticed I used to get along on those hate groups when I was younger. But now I see them and think “that’s plainly stupid, there’s no need for it”. They are throwing insults at people who doing what they love and wish to do…

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Dave Cook

    @19 I think when that happens it’s a case of people being pushed too far. I kick myself and give myself a hard time when I make a typo or something like that, so it pushes me over the edge when I see someone being a prick about it. Sometimes I do just lose it as I reckon some folk underestimate just how hard we work here. Mistakes happen, we’re humans after all.

    (FYI I know You’re not doing or saying any of the above man, just examples)

    #22 2 years ago
  23. FeaturePreacher

    @16
    I think it’s a very succinct and wise thing to say. You honestly think this group will change anything about “so called” verbal abuse? You think the problems they’re trying to address will get any better? Are people so diluted to think that anything so easy to get into such as talking about video games will attract the kind of discussion seen on topics such as programming design patterns or the mathematics involved in quantum mechanics? Whenever you have the ability to have such whimsical opinions you’re going to have this situation. It should pretty much be expected when you don’t need any qualifications or knowledge to say anything you want. Hopefully these people who are new to the internet will get a clue and perhaps go through liaisons that are a bit more experienced. Can’t wait to see the next bunch of clowns that want to change the tone of comments on the internet.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. TD_Monstrous69

    All I can on this is that it just seems way too long overdue. Some of the vitriolic behavior that goes on in this industry towards developers and journalists is just downright pitiful, disgusting, and depressing. And to anyone that perpetrates this behavior, or has the attitude of “Can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen”, then to put my words kindly, you’re part of the problem.
    Also @Dave Cook, as one of the wise-asses who occasionally does throw in a quip about typos on this site, my apologies if I’ve offended you, or anyone else @VG247.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Elvis71

    I guess the anonymity of the internet creates some kind of disconnection resulting in decreased empathy. I suppose that most of these people would never do & say these things in a real life conversation, especially about something trivial as computer games.

    Sometimes i cannot fathom how immature people behave in comments / discussions.

    On the other hand i see to some extend what #23 is saying … it will probably not significantly change unless the state of mind / situation changes for people (growing up / getting perspective / insight etc.) behaving like this.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Dave Cook

    @24 You’re never mean about it though dude, that’s the difference. When you and many others raise typos you’re just being helpful. I appreciate that. It’s the needless barbs I can’t stand.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Solist

    I too have wondered why VG247 hasn’t taken a stance on purging some of the trolls from the site. I used to enjoy reading the comments here, on Kotaku and Shacknews but have given up on both of the other sites due to the communities being so utterly awful.

    Unfortunately the troll/asshat presence here has become so bad that I very rarely even bother to read comments anymore and just stick to the news story and move on. Another reason why I just don’t visit forums any longer…it ruins what should be a fun experience when you have to read such crap.

    Personally I’d be all for a culling of some of the folks here who seem to have nothing better to do than stir the pot…it’d make VG247 one of the few to encourage a community that is here to discuss gaming like adults and to all enjoy a hobby instead of treating it like it’s rabid political parties going after each other personally and trying to cut folks with words at every attempt possible.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. TD_Monstrous69

    @Dave Am always happy to help. And @Solist I feel your pain.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Christopher Jack

    To elaborate on #2: You can’t ever really stop all the morons harassing others out there but if you believe that you can’t mentally handle the harassment the quickest & easiest solution is to walk away. I’m not disagreeing with this article at all, it’s just you’re never going to beat the internet trolls. Ignoring them is the best solution in my opinion though not everybody is capable of doing that.

    @4, Hardly. Just referring those randomly personally attacking others online- well you think of a better word than retard & get back to me. I’m sure I’ve ruffled quite a few feathers but I never do it intentionally because it makes me horny- that’s just not meThey thrive on any acknowledgement but they particularly enjoy being called trolls so I find retard more fitting.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. fearmonkey

    The IGDA COD DEV support group?

    Besides FPS games, I can’t think of any examples of devs constantly getting harassed.

    I know that some indie devs dish it out and then cant take it types, stories about people being critical (Dragon Age2), anda few one off examples, but not being a constant thing. Maybe Wow or other MMO’s had moments when they nerfed things.

    I was thinking yesterday when I was playing Borderlands 2 that they nerfed the Bee Shield which was way over powered. There were some disappointed people sure, but no I hope you die comments like COD had.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. MrWaffles

    People just focus on the negative side of things a lot more.

    Why not create a support group for ignored evangelist of your game?
    There’s people out there trying REALLY hard to get your game in front of as many as he/her can, yet these folks get no recognition from the dev.

    In short, if you can’t deal with the bad part, don’t persue the good ones.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. pcbros

    People who protest game developer decisions are a bunch of brats. Games, like movies and books, are creative expressions. The developer has 100% creative freedom, not the consumer. If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it.

    Because of the social revolution, everyone wants things “their way”.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. bradk825

    Personally I prefer a creative person to do what they do, and then I get to enjoy it. If fans were qualified to write stories fantastic stories, they’d write stories. If they were qualified to design games, they’d design games.

    To state what you would prefer, fair game, but the bottom line is the dev makes the game and then we can choose to buy it or not.

    I enjoy storytelling in all its forms. Spoken, written, movies, games, what-have-you. When I read a particular author for several novels I start to learn about who they are through the process, as it is impossible to write a great story without putting something of yourself into it. I would hate to lose that when games are made with changes brought on by “gamer rage” or media persecution (when something that is a perfectly acceptable part of a story in other media like movies and novels is suddenly worthy of a controversy if it’s in a game).

    Same goes for gaming journalists who face abuse for everything they say. I will admit there are a few out there who are kindof, well, pricks, but I don’t think any of them work for VG247 IMO. I’d rather have Dave write exactly what he thinks in the style he likes, than something faked. I’d also rather see Dave’s real replies in the comments section than have him leave it alone because it’s going to upset someone who is too easily upset.

    Side-note, how many online journalists actually read the comments from readers and reply to them? Applause please! cbc.ca doesn’t do it, where I get my local news. A few other gaming sites I’ve tried out don’t do it. That’s part of how I landed here, constantly checking VG247 for the latest on the console war. The writers here are not afraid to connect with readers.

    Anyway, bottom line, nothing is acceptable online that is unacceptable in person, that’s my opinion. Anything you would never say to someone to their face is poor behaviour online too. I also don’t buy the garbage that annonymity causes people to act worse than they really are. On the contrary, when you tip the glass, only what is inside spills out. Annonymity causes people to behave exactly as they are inside. It’s in-person interaction that makes people fake it.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. bradk825

    @3 I am in 100% agreement with you, no one should ever have to be a willing victim. It’s like telling a mugging victim they shouldn’t have gone down that street. Fuck that. The abuser is the only guilty party, period.

    @34 did you mean to say @2? 3 didn’t insult anyone.
    edit, unless your first sentence was not sarcastic… LOL. No tone of voice in text, sadly.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Ireland Michael

    @34 I’m not posting it for their validation. It’s called having basic human morals.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. YoungZer0

    See, this is exactly what I mean. Don’t expect a healthy community if you let people like him post here. A community is only as bad as you allow it to be. So don’t be surprised about the negative comments if you allow this kind of vicious and poisonous language on the website.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Ireland Michael

    @38 What is your problem? Seriously? What exactly do you get out of harassing, mocking and insulting all of the community every single time you are here? It is *all* you ever post.

    “Really? If you did, you wouldn’t spout nearly as much mental gibberish about allegedly low IQ of millions because they play a videogame you ‘re bad at.”

    What? I don’t feel that way about any video game.

    @39 Then email Pat and complain about it.

    Dave cares, but he doesn’t have the power to do anything about, and Steph isn’t willing to for god knows what reason. Brenna doesn’t care in the slightest unless its homophobic or sexist.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. YoungZer0

    @40: How come Dave doesn’t have the power? He contributes some of the best articles on this site. I know Steph warned Da Man more than once and I really do not understand why she let’s him continue to do this.

    “Brenna doesn’t care in the slightest unless its homophobic and sexist”

    And this is why I originally had a problem with your comment. While you didn’t say that it’s only women who are being harassed on the internet you did add more fuel to the fire that their complaints are the only ones that should be taken serious.

    How is the stuff Da Man writes and less harmful than sexism?

    See the whole Halo 4 story, where misogynistic comments would result in a kick/ban, but everything else seems to be fine? When was it decided that sexism was above all other kinds of verbal abuse?

    It’s just not a healthy mindset to say “They have it worse!” It’s not a competition.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Ireland Michael

    @41 “How come Dave doesn’t have the power?”

    Email Pat and ask him.

    “And this is why I originally had a problem with your comment. While you didn’t say that it’s only women who are being harassed on the internet you did add more fuel to the fire that their complaints are the only ones that should be taken serious.”

    I claimed absolutely nothing of the sort.

    I simply said that women receive more harassment solely because of their gender. I never said either was more or less worthy of acknowledgement, attention or respect than the other.

    I seriously have no idea where you’re drawing that inference from.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. zinc

    Well if nothing else this will at least be a good support group for Devs feeling particularly harassed & raising awareness of the issue can’t be a bad thing.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. GregSolidus

    I’m confused, why do people care what random strangers with names like xX_BudsmokkA420_Xx say about them?

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Lengendaryboss

    @44
    Why do you care about people “caring” (voicing their opinion/showing compassion) about what “random strangers” say about them?

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Ireland Michael

    @47 “2011″

    I don’t feel that way about the game anymore, or people. I dropped that attitude a good while back.

    Simple.

    Christ, how do you even remember this stuff? Do you keep like a little black book of people’s transgressions just so you can insult people at a moments notice?

    You avoided the other question. Why exactly do you do this? Most of us just want to sit and talk about video games in our spare time. We’re not attacking anyone, not insulting anyone, not being abusive towards anyone. Why do you feel the need to do this? I seriously don’t get it.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Ireland Michael

    Back to the subject at hand…

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-08-16-fan-harassed-writer-jennifer-hepler-leaves-bioware

    Thanks to Beta on the forums for providing this link in his thread.

    #44 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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