It feels a little like just a few weeks ago we were reporting that there were a strike of WoW fans who have a serious and threatening aggression problem. Oh, and look here: it’s been less than two weeks since Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig talked about the problem. The problem is relatively simple and easy to put into words: Gamers sometimes have absolutely no control over their emotions when they want to criticize their favorite game. Some of them, in blind rage over seemingly minor (and sometimes major) changes, lash out at those they consider responsible for the impending disaster: the developers.
This then sometimes manifests itself in severe cases of harassment and sometimes even threats of violence or worse. Most fans realize that this is going too far. But there are still people who may think it’s normal or even funny to threaten a developer with physical violence or subject them to psychological terror just for doing their job. This is, let’s be very clear, impossible.
Pull the ripcord
Chadd Nervig, you can read it again, has found something like peace with a development team whose fan community isn’t quite as toxic as World of Warcraft. But what happens when you can’t just escape to another team?
In the Destiny Reddit, fans have noticed that the developers of the lootshooter have become conspicuously silent lately, hardly commenting on upcoming adjustments or responding to questions via social media or Reddit. “For a valid reason,” writes community manager Dylan “dmg04” Garfner on both Reddit and Twitter. There are developers on the Destiny team who have been threatened simply because it was said that a certain exotic piece of armor would not be coming into the game for the time being. And Garfner himself has been hit so hard that he’s already been on hiatus for a few weeks.
What many players don’t seem to realize when they dump their hate unfiltered onto the Internet is that their threats alone cause psychological stress. Even if they don’t intend to get really violent, if they think the whole thing is a joke: the threat stands uncommented and not taken back. While the scold moves on, perhaps forgetting after five minutes what he has just done, the fear of violence or worse remains in the affected developer.
So at Bungie, developers are now keeping a low profile. “Instances of harassment against our developers have actively made it difficult for us to communicate with the broader community. It’s affected more studios than just ours. I hope more people can speak out against this behavior in any community, games or otherwise,” Garfner wrote on Twitter. On Reddit, his response is a bit more detailed.
In doing so, he mainly addresses the fact that there are these threats against the developers, even if most players can’t imagine it and they don’t see them. “I want to be very clear that I really appreciate the studio, as it has helped me personally after some serious harassment against my family and me. Part of the reason I take time off is because of it. Just because you can’t see it directly in a particular tweet or forum response doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
That the devs now prefer to remain silent also has another reason. A particularly articulate Destiny 2 streamer and -Cheater from the Los Angeles area by the name of Luca Leone has had a lawsuit slapped on him. Not only did he violate the user guidelines and get banned 13 times for it (via Polygon). In social media posts, he threatened, among other things, that people at Bungie should lock their doors. Leone wanted to move to the Seattle area, where Bungie’s headquarters is located, and threatened to burn it down.
That’s not something you just say.
No matter what amount of anger you have inside, it would be wise to find another outlet, a much more innocuous one than threatening the developers of a game with death. Maybe just walk outside the door for five minutes and scream into the air. You may think it’s silly, but it helps.
No punishment intended for the players
Let’s best close this hair-raising story with Garfner’s words, which any other developer in his situation would likely sign, “None of this is intended as punishment for the people who can provide clear and respectful feedback to our developers, mind you. At Bungie, there are no instances of people actively pursuing a conversation and planning retaliation against our player base via hotfixes, updates, or communication strategies. Sometimes we just need to take some time to fix things. This can take weeks or months – as with any development pipeline, because we want the best for our players AND our staff.
“That means we can’t just do business as usual until things are resolved. It’s annoying, but we want to make sure people are safe and taken care of. It’s a shame that we haven’t had as much interaction here lately. The team is planning ways to communicate with all of you – I’m really looking forward to some of those plans when I get back. I can assure you that many on the team read the threads every day and share your feedback.”
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