Playing: Dead Rising 3
Watching: The Strain
The internet has been a pretty depressing place to hang out the last couple of weeks.
While it isn’t normally a shining beacon of decency and civility, recently it seems to be especially ripe with anger and negativity. From the comments on the violence in Ferguson, Missouri to harassing Robin Williams daughter after his death to people actually hating on the ALS ice bucket challenge because it’s “annoying” or “a fad”, I can’t seem to go 10 seconds online without reading some ignorant and hate filled comment that makes me want to toss my iPad through a window. If you judged the world by only what you read online, it would not paint a very flattering picture of society.
One form of hostility that is getting alot of attention lately is the harassment and threatening of game developers. With the increasing popularity of Twitter and other social media as an outlet for gamers to communicate directly with developers it is becoming apparent that it is also an outlet for people to torment and abuse. With the annonimity that the internet provides some people seem to feel they have free reign to act as offensively as they’d like without any recourse. This week Phil Fish, the outspoken creator of Fez announced he was leaving gaming and selling his company after hackers obtained and posted personal information about him online including bank information and his social security info. Before deleting his Twitter account Fish said “I am done. I want out.” and “Nothing is worth this.”
Fish was seemingly targeted because he defended another developer who was coming under attack. Zoe Quinn, developer of the indie title Depression Quest became the victim of a nasty harassment campaign on Twitter after an ex-boyfriend began posting attacks and details of their relationship online. The comments that I saw posted about her were so beyond disgusting and disturbing that I won’t post any specifics, but it’s incredibly scary that people would say such revolting things online about another human being. Nobody deserves the kind of violent, sexist, horrible attacks that she has had to endure. I can’t even begin to understand the faulty wiring that must be going on in their heads for them to justify such behavior.
From death threats against the makers of Call of Duty for changes to the game to a writer at Bioware recieving threats against her children. Yesterday I saw someone tell Tim Schafer of Double Fine that he should go kill himself. The escalating problem is hurting all of us when it causes developers to quit the industry all together. Video games are supposed to be about fun and entertainment and we should be celebrating the creators that we love instead of terrorizing those that we might disagree with. These are the artists that have brought so much joy to so many of us for years, they should get the same level of respect that you would give to anyone else that you meet on the street. In response to the recent hostility a Twitter hashtag was started to show support for those being targeted. #welovegamedevs is a good way to let them know you appreciate their hard work and passion.
I imagine that the kind of twisted, sick person that engages in this kind of behavior is someone who probably doesn’t have much control in their real lives. Message boards and Twitter give them a release and an outlet for the anger and frustration that they cannot express at home or at work. But that’s not an excuse and it doesn’t make it okay. These people are a cancer on gaming and something needs to be done. I don’t know what the solution is to this problem. I don’t know how to change the way people behave. All I can do is try and treat people the way that I would hope they would treat me. Kindness can be contagious, so when you’re online and you see someone being offensive or threatening don’t attack them with anger of your own. Instead attack them with kindness and maybe explain to them that what they are doing IS hurtful and IS damaging. It may not work but if we don’t do anything at all then before you know it the gaming community is going to be an even more hostile place than it is now.