Adam Orth discusses how “Internet toxicity” has the power to destroy creatives

Saturday, 22nd March 2014 19:34 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Adam Orth, a former developer at Microsoft provided an extended version of his GDC Next talk Mob Rules: The Destructive Power of Opinion and Online Community at GDC 2014 this week, and explained how Internet vitriol affected him on a personal level.


According to GI International which attended the session, Orth discussed how death threats against him spun out of control, and how folks were “wishing cancer upon him and his child.

“I was becoming the next victim of the Internet hate phenomenon. It was an absolute feeding frenzy. My public and private life was fair game,” he said. “People began to distance themselves from me. I was dejected, ashamed, and embarrassed. I destroyed my career and feared being blacklisted by the industry. I went from income to no income.

“The reason that Internet threats are terrifying is not the possibility of the realization of a violent act; it’s that society has regressed to a point that this behavior and discourse is an acceptable and expected response to something someone doesn’t like or agree with. Most developers don’t even raise an eyebrow at this because this is the new normal.

“As an industry we’ve become desensitized to this insane behavior because it’s overwhelming, ubiquitous, and unstoppable. Somehow we’ve devolved while moving forward, and there’s no going back.”

Orth said he wanted to provide quotes in his talk from other game developers, but most would not go on record for fear of being bombarded with ‘revenge’ in the form of internet toxicity, and the developers who would discuss it, would only allow their opinion or experience to be divulged anonymously. Those who would speak with him, said such behavior was making them reconsider their careers.

“Be the shining example to inspire others to action. Never forget the joy you get or that you give by illuminating it with video games,” he offered. “Internet toxicity has the power to shit on something beautiful and destroy it, [but] I survived.

“You either curl up in the fetal position or you carry on…This was the best thing that happened to me. When I tell that to people they can’t believe it, but it’s fucking true. I saw it as an opportunity of a lifetime. I grew closer to my friends and family, I matured as a person, I became a better parent, got healthy and lost 50 pounds, and I recommitted and rededicated myself to my creative life.

“Life is too short to worry about anonymous internet activity. You have to look inward and block it out. What they are saying is a reflection of their life, not yours. Fighting back on their level is pointless. Eventually they tire out. Keep building, keep dreaming.”

Orth is developing a game called Adrift, which spotlights the destructive power of Internet toxicity



  1. blessedetherstar

    Prime example of a man who has not learned the lesson of when to shut your damn mouth. His career would have been fine if he didn’t try to act all high and mighty to the consumer…. You did this to yourself. Sure the internet amplified it…but only a fool would say what you said and mocked your user base…. I’m GLAD Microsoft dumped you.

    #1 9 months ago
  2. Edo

    “Orth is developing a game called Adrift, which spotlights the destructive power of Internet toxicity” …well,as long as he’s moved on…….

    #2 9 months ago
  3. SpacemanSpliffz

    Adam Orth, you are a gigantic pussy. You deserved to get fired, and I’m glad you did. You post the garbage that you did (online I might add), and then expected people to actually NOT care about what it was that you did and said. You are an idiot. Then, you go to various video game websites to complain about the backlash you so rightfully had coming, and to promote your stupid fucking game. Do you not see the blatant stupidity and irony of your moronic actions? DEAL WITH IT, YOU FUCKING DOUCHE.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. JPickford

    “Internet Toxicity” is bullshit.

    Be a twat online and you’ll very likely be called out on it. This is what happened to Orth.

    #4 9 months ago
  5. Hcw87

    Anyone who thinks it’s OK to threaten a guys life and harrass his family (who had nothing to do with any of it) based on his comments are beyond retarded.

    Sure he made some ridiculous statements not fitting of a man in his position, but to actually defend those internet tough guys is just dumb.

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Tormenter

    This kind of behaviour is NO DIFFERENT to being in any ‘large crowd’.. it’s only the intensity multiplied by the numbers that is any different.

    For this era, and don’t see us evolving anytime soon, people are going to remain dicks. That fact is either going to have to be accepted AND TO LET IT RUN IT’S COURSE, WHICH WILL BE WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER or that fact is going to make some people very unhappy.

    The WORST thing would be further legislation and restriction…. That kind of action doesn’t work and NEVER has and will only exacerbate the situation OR fuck things up even further, rights to freedom wise, for the rest of us.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. NocturnalB

    Bull shit! What a fake victim… The internet did indeed respond to Adam Orth with vitriol, but it’s his own fault for stirring that pot! The statements he originally made last year were said in a sharp-tongued, antagonistic context that he KNEW more than well was going to stir up the gamer-graphic that keeps it’s finger on the industry’s pulse, which would then echo everywhere else.

    If he was a man who stuck by his word and believed in his own word he wouldn’t be feeling embarrassed and “ashamed”. Adam Orth’s own actions is what got his ass canned. He caused the frenzy, not the internet. From the get go, the guy had a shitting attitude, and now he wants to play victim when he isn’t one.

    #7 9 months ago
  8. The_Red

    The sad thing is that “internet toxicity” is real but an asshole like this guy is confusing it with something else. When the actresses from Sherlock TV series or Breaking Bad get death threats and other crap from assholes on the internet, that is real and pure internet toxicity.

    When someone goes downtown and starts shouting “fuck you” to everyone who passes him/her by, that is NOT internet toxicity. That’s being an idiot like Orth. His talk, his new game and his other actions just show how badly he misunderstand internet, its toxicity and its abuse and also how he is still unable to admit to his own mistakes.

    Simply, pathetic.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. YoungZer0

    Interesting how everyone seems to think he’s full of shit and deserves it for the ignorant antagonistic comments he said, but when Anita Sarkeesian does it …

    #9 9 months ago
  10. Luciferous

    @YoungZer0 The thing with Anita is is that she does have incredibly valid points, but instead of presenting them from a neutral standpoint she presents them from a defensive feminist perspective, which makes people treat her terribly because of overwhelming bias.

    If she had come at her issues without trying to turn it in to a crusade against the patriarchy she would have been better received by the public.

    Orth on the other hand was just an outright muppet who didn’t think before he made comments that turned the majority of Xbox’s user base against him.

    #10 9 months ago
  11. YoungZer0


    Her ignorant and ill-informed points matter in the same way Jack Thompsons points matter; they don’t.

    She stated clearly in a video that she does not play videogames, so why has her word any weight?

    #11 9 months ago
  12. rmeehan2686

    So he openly mocks and insults just about all of his customers, and somehow he’s the victim in all this? Yeah, sure. whatever guy.

    #12 9 months ago
  13. ctankep

    Oh fuck you Adam Orth.

    #13 9 months ago
  14. The_Red

    Her statement about not playing video games was actually a sign of honesty IMO. With that said, I do agree that her antagonistic tone and methods have ruined any good message that she might have had.

    Orth and Sarkeesian are like 2 similar tales about someone going to the town square in broad daylight, staring at the crowd and shouting at them:
    - Sarkeesian: If that person shouted “Fuck you, it is midday”.
    - Orth: If that person shouted “Fuck you, it is nighttime”.

    Sarkeesian is the asshole who is relatively right while Orth is the asshole who is definitely wrong. Thankfully Sarkeesian seems to have learned a bit and at least partially moved on while Orth hasn’t. Focusing on his message with a game and then having this talk are simply insults to the real victims of internet toxicity (Which I do believe is terrible and unfair but not in Orth’s case).

    #14 9 months ago
  15. YoungZer0


    “Her statement about not playing video games was actually a sign of honesty IMO.”

    I don’t understand how you can say that to be honest. The video was leaked, she did not release it intentionally. In her official videos she proclaimed to have played videogames since she was a young kid. She was bullshitting, no honesty there.

    I think you’re making the whole thing worse by saying she was in the right here, or honest.

    #15 9 months ago
  16. salarta

    Orth may have been wrong, and rude, but nowhere near a point where “let’s send death threats, wish cancer and completely wreck his entire life and career” would be in any way acceptable. The rampant excessive hatred on the internet over these things is one of the few things that legitimately makes a damn good case for killing the chance at anonymity on the internet. And I like anonymity. It allows me to say things I couldn’t say otherwise. But I don’t love it so much that I’d prefer to see lives ruined because of it.

    Also, Orth is right on this specific topic. Internet hatred does kill creativity in people. How many people do you really think have it in them to put out what could be a controversial game or film or whatever when there’s a very real risk of hatred for it and things they say leading to not being able to make a living?

    #16 9 months ago

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