Howdy, gamers! Here’s a fun quote. “All the stuff you ever wanted to know about game development would be out there if not for the toxic gaming community.” Yikes! What’s the deal? That’s a quote from a Twitter account of a relatively known game developer. I won’t name them myself, for reasons we’re about to get into. But in the thread I’m referencing, which has blown up huge in the gaming community, one thing is clear: gamers are shooting themselves in the foot by being jerks all the time.
I’m sure you may be familiar with the scenario I’m about to introduce. A game comes out. It has a bug or two, maybe one that’s particularly frustrating and requires some deliberate maneuvering to get around. Maybe a game comes out on multiple platforms and performs poorly on one. Perhaps a game comes out on multiple platforms but the one you want it on the most is left out. Whatever the case, somewhere there’s a message board post, tweet, or even worse, ten or more-minute YouTube video calling the developers lazy, negligent, incompetent or appealing targets for murder.
Something about being into video games in a big way seems to trick people into thinking they know how making games works. This, to the point of people being so angry at individual developers because of whatever the daily drama, is that it’s deemed necessary to scream at the person, call for their firing, or send them emails threatening to hurt them or worse. Every time some developer thinks it’s a good idea to give extra insight into the process, perhaps to defend a decision made by the upper level, the conversation immediately sinks under waves of Internet troglodytes screaming about the developers lying or reneging on “promises” or some other nonsense.
And while it’s probably already been obvious, here we have a concrete example of why we don’t know more about how game development works. Developers share with each other all the time, but when it comes to being public, it takes a journalist like Jason Schreier writing a book to really get us a deeper understanding. Those same devs can’t trust us to take reality-based information in good faith. As a community, we’ve yelled, screamed, and insulted so much, we’ve destroyed our reputation. The medium we love and the people who keep it going because they love it too are straight-up afraid to talk to us like we’re reasonable human beings, because a lot of the time we aren’t.
Mediums like YouTube and other social media channels aren’t helping. It’s easier than ever to point a camera at your face, spout off nonsense, and create a hurricane of false assumptions and aggression while making money for doing so. We have “pro-consumer” internet pundits contributing to things like the “Framerate Police” on Steam, which only really succeed in providing bad people targets. We’re not really fixing any problems, because we don’t understand the nature of those problems. We see the end results like poor performance, bugs, and microtransactions. But we don’t understand how these things come about and information is so locked away we likely won’t, which compounds the problem. But as much as it is things like PR spin and bad business decisions from the non-development portion of the industry, it’s also the boots on the ground just trying to get through their day without some dork Tweeting their address out and threatening to kill their family.
We need to assume some responsibility, again as a community, for this issue. As soon as something distasteful happens with a video game we find the easiest target and lash out at them without really understanding what we’re screaming about or doing any research on who we’re screaming at. Just look at what happens whenever a big BioWare game comes out and does something off. Massive crowds of people find one person, usually a woman, and the torches and pitchforks come out. When Mass Effect: Andromeda was new, people were attacking someone who didn’t even work at BioWare anymore. If we don’t alter our collective behavior, the cycle of us vs them will continue, and our understanding of our favorite pastime will never reach the levels of deeper understanding and appreciation we claim to seek.