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Has threatening developers become a trend for gamers?

by Zaid Kriel (Zaid)  Posted Thursday, August 01, 2013 9:54:00 AM

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@DavidVonderhaar ONE DAY I'll find you and slit your throat for making a piece of shit game, you better lock your doors at night

That was a threatening tweet sent to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2's Studio Design Director, David Vonderhaar, over the company's decision to re-balance three of the guns within the game. Some rabid fans, like TedBund78652232 up there, decided that the re-balancing would ruin the game and the best way to address that was to hurl abuse at Vonderhaar. TedBund78652232's tweet is actually the least offensive one I could find, there's an extensive list of even more reprehensible stuff here, if you're inclined to read it. I wouldn't though, it's stomach-churningly awful stuff.

Our own Stephanie Duchenne revealed more of the details on that story here, but I'm more interested in the fact that this kind of behaviour isn't isolated to the Call of Duty fanbase. Recently Phil Fish, the indie developer behind the mindbending platfomer, Fez, cancelled that game's sequel while also asserting that he was leaving the game industry for good. And what spurred that unexpected decision? The sudden cancellation of Fez II came soon after Fish had a very public Twitter spat with Gametrailer's Marcus Beer, and the initial assumption was that it was that argument that motivated his decision. It's since come to light that Fish simply couldn't handle the abuse of 'fans' any more and the fight with Beer was merely the straw that broke the camels back.

In relation to the Fish and Beer debacle, Destructoid's Jim Sterling, acquiescing to his fans insistence that he weigh in on the matter, revealed that he had considered dropping out of the video game reporting field many times, citing abuse from the public as well. And let us not forget Anita Sarkeesian, whose desire to simply talk about gender issues in gaming opened the floodgates of hate.

My point is, gamers hurling abuse isn't some kind of isolated thing. It's not particular to Call of Duty fanboys. It's not specific to misogynists who live in denial about the gender imbalance in games. It's not peculiar to indie game followers. And the people that are the targets of this abuse, aren't just developers, it's seems to be anyone with a public profile involved in gaming. Acting like a dick seems to be the default response of gamers when they don't get what they want. And that shit has got to stop.

dont-be-a-dick.jpg

I've mentioned Wheaton's Law before, which basically states: Don't be a Dick. When Wheaton - formerly of Star Trek, frequent guest-star on The Big Bang Theory and professional geek - initially conceived the Law he was speaking specifically about Xbox Live multiplayer gamers, but its jurisdiction has since become all-encompassing. And as far as these cretins threatening people is concerned, it flies directly in the face of Wheaton's Law.

And what is the upside to this nonsense; what do they think they're achieving by threatening to rape and kill people? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ultimately all they're doing is harming the very people that create the products they love and perpetuating the stereotype of the mentally unhinged gamer ready to fire a machine into a kids' daycare centre. It's thanks to fools like that, that Justin Carter ended up getting arrested.

The most infuriating part about this whole affair is that there is nothing to be done about it. This column is probably a waste of time, since I'm probably preaching to the choir. Chances are those of you inclined to be a Dick online, aren't going to change your behaviour, since there aren't any consequences. But just keep in mind, that Phil Fish took the hard decision to simply walk away from his game and tomorrow it may be another top designer who happens to be working on a game you are waiting for. The only person that looses out is you. But since you won't be getting what you want, I guess you could always just go 'rape and murder' someone to make yourself feel better.

This is all just so stupid.

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