Why developers believe abusive vitriol is the cost of doing business with games

When is it appropriate to send verbal abuse to someone you don’t know personally? When is it appropriate to tell someone that you hope they lose their job or suffer significant personal injury? The obvious answer to these questions should all be “never,” and yet a new article by small indie developer Morgan Jaffit points out that in the game industry, dealing with vicious targeted abuse is part of the cost of doing business. Development across the board is dealing with people who feel that there is a point when all of this is appropriate, even if they differ on the circumstances when it’s appropriate.

Needless to say, this has a pretty huge impact on development, and it spills over to related fields. (Is it appropriate to say awful things to a community manager over a feature you don’t like when the community manager is not a developer and had nothing to do with it?) The article cites the omnipresence of social media and the popularity of personalities who “tell it like it is” (read: spew invective and curses at top volume), and it’s the sort of thing that everyone who cares about the future of games should read and consider.

In fact, similar abuse is something we’re subjected to on a regular basis here at Massively Overpowered, despite our obvious status as not being a developer. We’ve included a small selection of appropriate comments from the last couple of weeks just below; these are unedited from our deletions pile and contain some cursing. We also picked out samples that don’t specifically mention games or companies because really, it doesn’t matter which game or company is being discussed – the abuse comes in regardless.

“It’s not a game yet… So fuck off morons! […] So anybody judging this on the playtesting, is a complete idiot! […] (You folks don’t really know much about business huh?) *Jealous much?* MassivelyOP, you folks are idiot’s! OP my ass! Underinformed, opinionated jackholes!”

“Let me rephrase this: You filthy clickbait whores are SCUM living in the ass of publishers. You talentless jealous little hacks can only type shit on the internet have no education and no actual jobs. Fuck you and fuck this trash site”

“Fuck you assholes, I hope your crappy clickbait site flops. Fucking useless hacks! Journalists are worse than cancer”

Source: Medium
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110 Comments on "Why developers believe abusive vitriol is the cost of doing business with games"

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kgptzac

Obviously people as a whole can always use more self-respect and less rudeness, but let’s face it, there’s no way to eradicate assholes.

Also, I see a difference between wishing Electronic Arts to go fuck itself, and tweeting to a specific EA employee and wish them harm. Companies should treat the former as something to suck it up, and the latter should be avoided.

That’s why I don’t quite understand why game developers would make twitter accounts, etc, under their real name, and say I’m the dev of this company etc. It should be part of employee training and corporate policy, and even more so, common sense, to protect the privacy of employees.

To sum it up, game companies absolutely should face the cost of toxicity of Internet. Individual developers, however, should not.

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Rhime

Internet posting isn’t a right nor should it be treated as such. Game companies should hire “hall monitors” who only purpose is to sift through the nasty forum posts and such deleting threads and banning all the douchebags who feel the right to rip into game devs. They could then release the positives (and proper critique) posts to the devs and everyone wins. After all, posts that target people personally aren’t even worth reading anyways…

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kgptzac

They already do that. Some do better than others, but no company let their own forums go full anarchy, and most of such forums are quite heavily censored.

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Dobablo

When make develop my game (which will have all my best ideas and be the most amazing game ever produced while coded entirely by just me in my spare time), anyone that insults me will go on the naughty list and be perma-banned.

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Space Captain Zor

But wait… Where are all the shocking and deleted comments from BalsBigBrother??? Those are the ones we all want to see!

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mysecretid

Oh, B3’s rage is not something you want to see. He regularly comes by my house and beats me with his shoe when Massively posts an article about a game he doesn’t like. He’s such a rage-monster, that guy! Hee hee hee :-D

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A Dad Supreme

My only *valid* criticism is that MassivelyOP doesn’t cover The Division anywhere near it should be considering it’s numbers and player activity level.

When you compare that AAA MMO to what Massively staff usually cover (and play) that aren’t even made yet, made but barely surviving/floundering, and things that barely have 10,000 players or have ever been heard of, it’s a pretty big snub.

That aside, I wouldn’t dare think to abuse the staff or guest writers in the ways posted above just because we have different tastes in video games.

In that spirit, I’m including the ‘re-review’ that Massively SHOULD have done at some point, especially after 1.8, that someone else did fantastically four days ago.

Hopefully, someone there will at least WATCH it so… enjoy!

Tom Clancy’s The Division – The Review (2018)

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connor_jones

Ty, I’m going to take a closer look at this game. You’ve piqued my curiosity. You are correct though in that I’ve not seen a whole lot of stuff from Massively on it.

BTW, love the old Coltrane piece called ‘A Love Supreme’. ;)

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mysecretid

Although, Massively has never really done reviews of games. The closest they get are opinion columns.

Cheers,

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Valen Sinclair

This is the main reason why I don’t play many online/group/mmos anymore. I still play games but found I’ve migrated back to single player games. I just don’t have the stamina or interest in dealing with idiots online. I also am not nearly as involved in the “gaming community” as I used to be. Toxic is an understatement.

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Dobablo

I think it is also a reason for why single-player MMOs are popular.

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Utakata

I am personally glad they didn’t quote something of mine they put into moderation. Not to say it’s anything as bad as that. Just it least gives me an indication I’m still in the Bree’hammer good books. :)

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Dobablo

I keep a rant section of my blog where I let spew with all sorts of obscenities. Then once it is perfected instead of publishing I press the delete button. It feels good, I get to put the world to rights, and feel morally superior because I didn’t pollute the internet with my filth.
The only downside is then need to tell people that I deleted my rant so they can know how fantastic I am.

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Bree Royce

I’ve never seen any regulars spout off QUITE like that before. :P Usually the worst you guys ever do is off-topic or feeding the trolls, and I get those urges myself, so no hard feelings!

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Utakata

Well…that’s good to know! <3

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Castagere Shaikura

I grew up long before people had personal computers. So i respected adults and was taught to be a polite person when dealing with others. So when i’m online even when i run into these people i don’t get really mad. So i have never replied in a personal attack ever. I just quit the group and put these people on ignore right away. I have had heated debates but never get personal. When i say heated i mean i would say i disagree or your wrong and leave so i won’t get pulled into it.

I remember once in LOTRO in a group a guy looted items from boss fights that his character could not use and called him on it. He said it was for his alt. To me this was wrong because it was a item a minstrel could use and i was the minstrel in that group. Never piss off your healer was the lesson they soon learned as the rest of the pug were his friends and stuck up for him. I quit them at the last boss fight. Zoned out as they started the fight.

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connor_jones

Of course online abuse and personal attacks are clearly wrong; by-products of the internet disinhibition effect, but what ever happened to ‘sticks and stones will break my bones…….’?

I forgot, we’re in the age of ‘safe spaces’. Sighs.

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rafael12104

Internalize the abuse as a cost for doing business? Seriously?

So, I use colorful words on occasion. And certainly have occasion with the shenanigans we see from AAAs. But, I steer clear of personal attacks. And while I can lambaste EA, for example, I never go after devs on a one on one basis.

It is an important distinction, that I make because a big companies course is not laid out by devs alone. And more importantly, because crappy decisions by any company does not excuse harassment, and or shaming of any individual.

Abuse is never a cost you must pay for business. And I’m surprised that any dev would shrug it off as such.

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Schmidt.Capela

I don’t thing it’s about shrugging off, but rather accepting that it happens even if you try to fight against the abuse.

Like it or not, given our current society, abuse will happen. We need to fight that abuse and hopefully bring it down, of course, but until that happens, anyone that can’t take that abuse in stride is better advised to stay away from any visible position in this industry.

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rafael12104

I think you are right. Shrugging it off was the wrong turn of phrase. Accepting it, that is what I don’t understand. And I agree abuse is an unfortunate issue these days and various spheres. And it has been ignored for a long time. But maybe things are changing.

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wandris

Why are game popular? Because it provides an outside area with loose rules, little to no consequences where people can let loose, relax, an say whatever the hell they want and engage in as much savagery and uncivilized behavior as they prefer. It is a great thing to have an outlet for all your frustrations with the world, and the one place where all people good and bad can co-exist. Things getting a little too toxic for you? block the offender, change the channel, join a guild, paint a picture, fly a kite. Everyone has choices. Even though I personally do not engage in toxic behavior I extremely resent media forces and outsiders trying to civilize players becasue”toxicity’.’ I would be surprised if I am alone in this. Every game community has its own level of acceptable behavior depending on the audience. It isn’t uniform, and some places are worse than others, however this is the point, everyone can find a place which suits them. If there is such a demand for sanitized non-toxic environments go ahead and build some. Moderate the shit out of it, although I would bet by doing so you will alienate around 90% of your customers who enjoy the drama and salt. As for abuse targeted at employees, that is another matter. How would it be handled in any other industry? you protect your employees, but not by trying to change your customers. When you work in the gutter, you are going to get shit on you, and that’s why you wear a hazmat suit. The only good answer is for companies to do a better job of insulating their workers from hazardous elements. Put up a wall, and hire professional hard asses when you need to venture out into the muck and ignore the mockery, insults and abuse.

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Bryan Correll

living in the ass of publishers

At least it’s warm there. ;-)

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Cosmic Cleric

living in the ass of publishers

At least it’s warm there. ;-)

Talk about ‘toxic’ though.

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Armsbend

Is it just me or did this kinda make you wanna see a monthly mailbag roundup of crazy hatemail? ;;;>.>

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Bree Royce

You really don’t! :P Honestly, this is the stuff that is like… shocking for a moment, and then you’re like, oh what a tool, delete, and you never think about it again. The most insidious abuse doesn’t even look like abuse from the outside. Guess that’s true IRL too, right – big whoop, some trucker flipped you off for stopping for a red light, but a decade of gaslighting from a relative, that’ll do you in.

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Dobablo

Just today I’ve noticed that Dilbert’s theme for this week is how to stealth insult your co-workers and the BBC has an article up on the confessions of a gaslighter.
It is probably just my confirmation bias noticing these all at the same time.

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Cosmic Cleric

You really don’t!

I don’t know. Imagine one of those YouTube Hitler bunker scene videos, where’s he’s quoting that toxic stuff. Might make for an interesting watch! :p

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Arktouros

In an ideal world, sure, none of this would ever happen. However I won’t justify or attempt to explain others’ toxicity but instead say I think the alternative, a world where mass censorship and a lack of freedom to express ourselves, is ostensibly worse.

I’ve experienced this first and second hand numerous times over the years where game developers and website owners will remove intelligent, thoughtful, fact based and constructive criticism over their game or a topic and simply delete it along the same criteria as if it’s a vitriolic one liner full of foul language. Ultimately, this is how things like reddit came about because it removes the control from people who are incapable of understanding what is and isn’t an abuse of their own rules or their own power over discussion of their game.

So yea, I gotta put up with some memes and I gotta see people acting shitty to one another (and we’ll chide them for being so) but I’ll take that any day over the jackbooted alternatives we’ve seen out of certain developers in the past.

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Bruno Brito

I disagree with mass-censorship being the complete opposite of toxicity.

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Arktouros

However that is the solution people take to toxicity. They squelch players in game removing their voice. They ban them from discussion forums removing their voice. They delete their posts in topics in forums silencing what they had to say. That is, by definition, censorship.

I’ve seen any number of well thought out, well reasoned, proven with examples forum posts on game developer’s forums suddenly disappear within 24 hours of posting as I have vitrolic shitposts who do nothing but spew pure toxicity. I say mass-censorship because not only are they removed but anything related to that topic or discussing that topic are also removed effectively creating a topic that can’t be discussed no matter in what format (civil discussion or otherwise) are allowed. I’ve seen this in games forever even into last year.

That’s the issue at hand and it’s not something we can just compartmentalize because one scenario and how we solve it ultimately affects other scenarios.

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Cosmic Cleric

I disagree with mass-censorship being the complete opposite of toxicity.

However that is the solution people take to toxicity.

I’d suggest that what you perceive, and what is, is not always the same.

Life is not an on/off switch, it’s a volume control knob.

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Arktouros

By all means, prove otherwise! What other ways have developers handled toxicity? So far I’ve only seen them silence it (if they have the ability) or just accept it and try to not respond to it.

Again, I never claimed censorship was the opposite of toxicity, I simply said it was the method in which people use to handle it regardless of how toxic the message actually is.

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Cosmic Cleric

I never claimed censorship was the opposite of toxicity

Apologies if mis-read, but it sure seems like that’s what you are saying. …

However I won’t justify or attempt to explain others’ toxicity but instead say I think the alternative, a world where mass censorship and a lack of freedom to express ourselves, is ostensibly worse.

And truthfully, I was speaking more towards the hyperbole of the last part of the statement by you (italicized).

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Arktouros

First, I’m saying that I am not justifying or explaining why other people behave in a toxic manner. This is to cover my viewpoint is not to apologize for or say that acting toxic is good, acceptable or alright. In essence, it is not my intent to argue that people acting in a toxic manner is a good thing.

Second, I go on to say that I would rather discuss the alternative point that mass censorship and lack of freedom to express ourselves is a “greater evil” than accepting toxicity is a part of things. I make that claim because the most common method used to combat abusive vitriol towards developers, game studios, web site owners, etc is censorship. I then go on to make the point that such censorship goes beyond managing vitriolic abuse and is often times directed towards constructive criticism, intelligent discourse, or legitimate criticism equally. However when this occurs not only are those topics censored but anyone else trying to discuss the censorship are also censored (hence: mass censorship).

An example of what I’m talking about happened recently last year in my very own beloved BDO game. A player was banned for data mining. Any discussion regarding him was initially removed, censored and hidden and they went as far as to even reach out to Reddit mods to also have it hushed up and removed. This kind of censorship was vastly more common back in the day when places like Reddit or Discord weren’t as much of a thing and a big reason why places like Reddit became so popular. Hence this is not hyperbole, but rather reflective on the kinds of moderation activities that occur. Moderation activities, I might add, that are often times prohibited from being discussed in many cases.

So you see I’m not arguing that censorship is the opposite of toxicity but rather that so far it’s the only method used to combat toxicity and it’s bad one.

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Cosmic Cleric

I think the alternative, a world where mass censorship and a lack of freedom to express ourselves

The point you’re failing to see, that others are calling you out on, is that you relate policing toxic behavior to (in your mind, based on your comment) “MASS censorship” and a “LACK of FREEDOM”, like there’s nothing in between. You could have made your point without that hyperbole.

Please stop trying to continuously move the goal posts, it makes it where nobody will want to listen to your opinions, and I’m sure that’s not what you want. I know its not what I want.

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Arktouros

like there’s nothing in between

A point which, if you look above, I clearly ask you to show the alternative ways developers have handled toxicity:

By all means, prove otherwise! What other ways have developers handled toxicity? So far I’ve only seen them silence it (if they have the ability) or just accept it and try to not respond to it.

Something you have failed to do. I have backed up my arguments with examples (not hyperbole) and proof and you continue to “call me out” by claiming there is something else without showing an example of something else that not only wasn’t full on censorship but also prevented toxicity.

I know you love your logical fallacies, but there’s no goal post moving. I stand by everything I’ve said. I’ve proven what I’ve said with examples. You, on the other hand, have yet to provide any example or proof to refute what I have said but have instead chosen to focus on how I have said it.

Furthermore I strongly doubt many people will want to listen to my opinions because they are rooted hard in pragmatic reality rather than idealistic optimism. No one, as they say, likes a downer and reality is very rarely else but.

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Cosmic Cleric

Furthermore I strongly doubt many people will want to listen to my opinions because they are rooted hard in pragmatic reality rather than idealistic optimism. No one, as they say, likes a downer and reality is very rarely else but.

I do, actually. Not that I agree with what you’ve said so far (you seem very mired in your own reality bubble), but honestly, everyone should be heard, so that ideas can be formed, and decisions made.

Anyways, good day citizen.

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Bree Royce

Not that we owe wild claims refutation, but there are plenty of real-world working examples of ways gaming companies deal with toxicity before getting to banning people, as a longtime Massively OP reader would surely be aware. Riot Games poses the best examples as one of the richest companies with mountains of time and money to throw at the problem. Riot instituted a policy of warnings, of player-led judgment tribunals, of temporary timeouts, of explaining to people what they did in the hopes of actually knocking loose some attitudes, of granting clemency, and then of tracking whether any of that worked. Small companies without a fleet of community managers and behavioral scientists on staff don’t owe toxic players/posters any of that, nor could they afford to anyway.

Course, this was never really about gaming studios.

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Arktouros

A wild claim would be one that can’t be backed up by proof or examples.

I didn’t mention banning as a method of censorship but that is indeed one of the methods used to censor someone. In fact I specifically brought up how, such as in the case of Black Desert, posts were in fact removed or posts were modified and then locked with a little blurb about what is and isn’t allowed within the rules over the banning of a particular player who broke the rules to bring us the data the developers didn’t want us to have. Even more specifically that not only were the vitriolic and abusive posts towards Pearl Abyss/Kakao removed but also the intelligent, thought out and non-rule breaking posts that attempted to discuss the matter were removed as well. Censorship at it’s finest.

Those are very good points about Riot’s attempts to try other methods. However I’d also point out at the end of the day their go to method for dealing with toxicity is still removal be it a temporary one or a permanent one in the case of “famous” examples like Tyler.

Your point about a lack of personnel to deal with the problem with alternative methods other than censorship (banning, post deletion, moderation, etc) indirectly supports what I’m saying because without that kind of support censorship is really the only other viable method to dealing with toxicity besides simply accepting vitriolic abuse comes with the job.

Of course it’s about the gaming studios and we’ve discussed nothing else but examples from gaming studios.

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silverlock

Software development is a weird field to begin with, the ego’s are just insane. I swear I never had to resort to physical intimidation as much as I did when I worked in software and yes that includes High School.

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K38FishTacos

Any place of work, especially with “professionals.” Wanna talk about big egos? Try working with trial lawyers and judges. There are worse things than physical intimidation.

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MeltWithYou

Oh the old dogs of development are a colorful bunch. When I first started, I was intimidated too, the salt was real. It took me a while to wrap my head around 1 very simple fact – if you have a question, you better damn sure you make it look like you did everything you could to solve the problem yourself, if all else failed, have your facts straight

…after a while though, you learn to love them dearly, kind of like a crazy uncle or aunt.

When you step outside yourself and look at the situation from a birds eye view, you realize, they are actually helping you become self sufficient

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Cosmic Cleric

By physical intimidation, do you mean arguing, or being literally physical?

Been a developer for over thirty years, and I’ve been in screaming bad words at each other type of arguments, but never saw one come to physical violence, ever.

Having said that, yeah, on average, 20% of your dev time is coding, and 80% is dealing with other human beings.

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Arktouros

I’ve worked as a software developer for over 9 years and I can’t think of a single time anyone has ever had to physical intimidate anyone where I work.

The ego thing can be pretty real though.

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kelvar

I… really don’t know how to respond to this, I’m genuinely stunned by your comments. I’ve worked in software development for many, many years now. Sure, there are some egos, but that’s true in any and all disciplines.

But your comment about resorting to physical intimidation “as much as you did” (implying it was a lot) is just shocking to me. I would suggest that if you’re falling back on those methods you’re significantly contributing to the problem. I would also say that, for any company I’ve worked for, if you physically intimidated anyone to get your way or make your point you’d face severe disciplinary action up to straight up termination.

In short, you’re very much doing it wrong. Wow.

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kelvar

Anonymity is the enemy of civility.

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Paragon Lost

That’s simplistic and not actually the problem. The bigger issue problem is that whether it’s game developers or social media outlets, most of them are taking a pass at investing in maintaining their own TOS policies. Yep, it costs money to enforce and monitor but that is the price of doing business.

In the current lack of enforcement anonymity is your friend, it protects you from more serious harassment that “is” so often the norm anymore. Ask Brian Krebs how it feels to be repeatedly SWATTed, have his credit information stolen repeatedly etc as one example.

No thanks, I prefer my anonymity and try to self police myself by always trying to debate the points and not attack the poster. That’s what a responsible person does who wants to be taken serious. No, anonymity is not the enemy of civility, the enemy is doing nothing by those who host the websites, games etc.

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kelvar

It was meant to be simplistic and to the point, but I’m happy to expand.

Anonymity divests people of their social responsibilities, plain and simple. Your example references responsible people, but that’s not who I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the people out there who feel entitled/empowered/emboldened in spewing their vitriol because there’s no social consequences for them. You put those same people face to face with the person they’re hoping die in a fire and their responses will be different.

Internet anonymity facilitates that behaviour, but it’s not confined to that. I did customer service over the phone in my early career and had the most heinous things said to me. These people felt “safe” doing so over the phone, but I highly doubt they would do so to my face (yes I’ve worked retail too and had my share of nasties, but nothing like over the phone and certainly nothing like over the ‘net).

You speak about the issue being lack of enforcement of TOS, but I doubt the answer lies there. Pirating is against TOS, so is the whole private WoW servers, and many other things yet those are frequently violated.

Could they shut out anonymous nastiness? I doubt it, you can still make and verify accounts and be a jerk on there… sure you’ll get banned but there are ways to make more. Even with a verified account you’re still “anonymous” because you’re so far removed from everyone else and you’re still obscured enough that the fallout of your behaviour is minimal, if any.

You say that this enforcement is the cost of doing business, but you don’t mention the amount of that cost against the ability to function. How many people will you hire to enforce this? How many people do you risk alienating because someone had a bad day (for example). How many paying customers will you turn away because they offended you and what is the threshold for those offences?

It’s a complex problem that I don’t think anyone has solved yet. But I 100% believe that internet anonymity as I’ve described it certainly facilitates this horrendous behaviour.

Consider a “debate” on a message board against a debate in a room and observe the behavioural differences, and the different kinds of consequences leveraged for them. That lends further credibility to my point.

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Paragon Lost

None of what you just posted in my opinion counters my point(s). Also yes, enforcement matters, we’re gonna have to strongly disagree here. Which is cool with me.

I’m old, I recall when things were different and when what you did and said mattered. (If this were the case today then yes I’d all for doing away with anonymity, it’s not the case currently) You were held accountable for what you said and did as a norm, now you aren’t most of the time.

Basically my experiences and what I have observed tell me that what you’re selling is a failure that endangers others. It’s what’s been pushed by many and anytime I see it implemented it’s not been a success.

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kelvar

Well, we can be old together then :).

It’s a common fallacy to harken back to the good old days when streets were safe and no one locked their doors and folks were simpler and honest (and I know that sounds sarcastic but I don’t intend it to be – tone doesn’t translate well to text all the time)… but that’s just simply not the case. People were mean and dishonest back when as well – in the nearer past with BBSs and in the futher past with editorial columns and written in responses. The difference between then and now is not necessarily the behaviour, but the reach of accessibility of that behaviour. I’m sorry, but shitty people now are the same as shitty people then there’s just a great reach today.

I’m not sure what it is you’re referring to that I’m selling though. I don’t think anyone could argue that anonymity changes the social constructs / consequences to negative behaviour (people will behave badly when they think they won’t get caught). I’m not saying it’s good or right, I’m just saying it is and as I mentioned earlier it’s not something confined to the internet it’s just that that is the farthest reaching and most easily accessible.

I don’t know what kind of enforcement you could do to change that phenomenon. I *do* think enforcement matters, I just don’t see how it can reasonably be managed in a balanced way in this scenario. I don’t think just doing it (what does “it” look it – what is it specifically) can just be swallowed as cost of doing business when, depending on what “it” is, could cost the entire business.

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Space Captain Zor

*Looks at POTUS’ Twitter feed*

Well, sheesh. I guess the cancer goes all the way to the top.

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Jerry

Developers have the right to put in loot boxes that have a .001 % drop chance on items. Nerf gear just to incentivize new gear which happens to be coming out in a new DLC. Lie when Marketing, lie to fix PR errors, lie about features that will be cut. Look at EA recently, Bungie and Destiny 2, Funcom marketed features on the box of Age of Conan that never made it in. The list goes on and on. But lets focus on our reactions as players. We are being “rude”. Lets have the Federal Government police all microtransactions and see how the Devs like that. I’m sure they would prefer nerd rage over that.

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Bruno Brito

You missed the point. Completely.

It works like this: No one is above criticism, specially if they offer a service.

But if your reaction is “go die, shitstain”, you’re NOT giving proper feedback, nor you’re showing proper capability of understanding how human relations work.

So, please, drop the “whataboutism”, ok?

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Jerry

“Whataboutism?” I will drop nothing. Toxic and Exploitive monitization and dev decisions will be dealt with by harsh/rude language. It is what it is and it will continue. No one can stop it. It’s called “consequences”.

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Space Captain Zor

This isn’t an article that claims game developers are above criticism and/or don’t make mistakes. This is an article about how people the world over are quite incapable of being an adult about it.

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Cosmic Cleric

how people the world over are quite incapable of being an adult about it.

To be fair, none of us really know how much of the toxicity is driven by immature youths, vs. adults (immature, or otherwise).

We can all guess, but maybe this is just a case of immature people now being heard much more easily now (Internet) than in the past. /shrug

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Ashfyn Ninegold

It’s not okay. And when developers think it is, they become part of the problem instead of the solution.

There’s nothing cool about being coarse, rude or indecent. It’s just being coarse, rude and indecent.

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Schmidt.Capela

Accepting that abuse exists is different from being okay with it. Locking your front door doesn’t mean you think it’s just fine for people to burglarize unlocked houses.

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Bree Royce

I get this, and it is my concern too – I don’t want it to loop back around into placing all the responsibility for fighting trolls on their victims and their victims alone, right? On the other hand, if you’re locking your doors because you know there are burglars lurking, and you’re doing nothing else – not warning people, not reporting what you see, not advocating for more police, etc? That’s a problem too. Yes, maybe taking the metaphor too far, but I think that’s what Ashfyn meant. Shrugging off abuse does normalize the behavior as part of gaming culture, and that makes it worse for everyone else too – game devs, journalists, and players alike.

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Schmidt.Capela

Everyone needs to fight this issue. That includes devs, of course, but should also involve players, media, and in more serious cases even the police.

I mean, imagine if a player being abusive would be immediately kicked out of any guild or other player group he was a part of and denied a place in any other group, until he publicly (and candidly) apologized to his target. This would greatly reduce abusive behavior in gaming.

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Paragon Lost

Nicely said. I’d up vote you a few times if I could.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

We can do that for ya :)

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Soy

It’s the thought that counts.

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Dug From The Earth

Its never something that should happen. The reality is that it does. BOTH of these concepts need to be understood by people, so that they can both strive to not be part of the problem as well as be prepared for when and if it happens to them.

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Greaterdivinity

I think I remember some of those comments, and can take a pretty solid guess as to what game the article was about : P

It’s frustrating, but it seems to be the case on the internet overall : (

There’s so much toxicity pretty much everywhere, and it’s hard to find small, nice corners where folks aren’t getting nasty about something. Being salty is one thing, I know I’ve been plenty salty over the years and will continue to get salty about things for years to come. But the nastiness that seems to be pervasive amongst some of the more hardcore/larger communities is disappointing. I know I can trend towards being a bit hostile (and very blunt) periodically, despite my best efforts not to be, so I’m not pretending that I’m a saint and not likely a small part of the problem.

It’s hard to read folks calling you out for “appealing to emotion” and “virtue signaling” simply because you’re reminding them that while they may be mad about leadership decisions, that the folks in the trenches at a developer don’t deserve the hate and vitriol being spewed as they have no control over it. At what point did treating people like human beings become “appealing to emotion” : /

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Sally Bowls

I see three issues:
1) People can be awful
2) People on the Internet are worse
3) Gamers are even worse.

To focus on the game-specific issue, I certainly agree with the devs on this. The downside of this is I can’t see why any dev would be motivated in communication – anything you say is going to trigger somebody. My go to example is all the vitriol that BW got when they gave a free month of SWOTR to anybody with a level 50. Nor can I see a dev be all that interested in feedback from players. Ghostcrawler (lead WoW dev) once had a boss recommend he not read forums and I certainly understand the advice. Note that this is not just the toxic. Look at all the irrational beliefs that people have about pricing and upsell and features being cut etc etc etc

tl;dr: If your for-profit company makes games, it is in spite of not because of the customers.

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Armsbend

Your #3 used to be true but now people on political websites are worse than gamers imho.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i think fast food patrons are way worse than gamers. as are sports fans.

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Dobablo

You are all wrong and therefore stupid. Haberdashers are the worst. :D

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Sally Bowls

BTW, I think it would be a useful PSA to do some foundational articles and periodically remind people of them. Specifically, from this article “the community manager is not a developer

Community team does not add/cut features or fix bugs or delay releases or sell products or issue refunds. (I thought CCP getting rid of the community team was Bad, but the software dev in me wondered why people here were so upset. laying off actual devs would also be bad, although in a different way,)

The employee who decides how big Anets budget is, the people who decide what and when the expansions/content will be, the people who do the actual development, testers, the people who fix bugs, the support people who talk to you about those bugs, the people who handle money/refunds, and the community managers are all different people. You can give feedback about any of it to the poor CMs, but they control little of it.

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Armsbend

“but the software dev in me wondered…”

More more piece of my puzzle has been discovered.

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Dobablo

Everyone has a software dev in them. That is how we know that real software devs are wrong, stupid and incompetent and our simple fixes are so much better than their implementations.

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Arktouros

I don’t think people, wholesale, don’t misunderstand that but rather simply don’t care.

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Veldan

I never understand why these people say what they say. I mean, do they expect anyone to agree with them? Don’t they see that by typing that crap they’re making themselves look like most of the things they’re calling others?

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Dividion

Unfortunately, I don’t think they see it that way. They’re a product of their upbringing, peer pressure, or possibly simple immaturity, and haven’t learned that being an a-hole isn’t acceptable. With more employers doing background checks that involve looking at your contributions to social media, it sometimes catches up to them.

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Dividion

If you can’t say something nice … type it up on the internet so it’ll last forever.

Thankfully I wasn’t raised that way, and try to treat others the way I want to be treated.

Sadly, too many people get the impression that by putting others down it makes them more important, and that “feel good” endorphin rush just encourages them to keep doing it until it’s a full-blown addiction. The anonymous nature of the internet doesn’t encourage that behavior, but it doesn’t discourage it either.

I think the best advice is still this oldie but goodie: Don’t feed the trolls.

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Robert Mann

Sadly, disrespect of others is considered ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’… despite everyone wanting to be respected in general. It may be another losing battle, to take on anyone who does such things, but by all that is good I will yell at them until they leave if in a location where I physically can, and I will call them pathetic fools who can’t even make a point if not.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much each of us can do, and likely it won’t matter unless the vast majority take action. I can, however, proudly say that I kicked more than a dozen such jerks out of a store back when I worked retail and was management. You didn’t disrespect the employees trying to help you there! Period! *Thankfully, the other customers always had my back on the matter, and the supportive notes kept that going while I was there.*

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Zen Dadaist

We shouldn’t be normalising this shit. We shouldn’t be in a society where people who make video games are “expecting to” and “resigned to” recieve this kind of abuse. This should not be a race to the bottom. Why should recieving death threats be an acceptable “price” to pay?

It’s one thing to get a little heated in a discussion about something you personally care about, it’s another to get violent and angry – even over the internet. This is not OK and it should be called out and dealt with. Simply shrugging and accepting it isn’t going to magically make this crap go away.

Also applies outside of the games industry.

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kelvar

I completely agree with you and I’m certain any reasonable person would. However, what can be done about it? That’s the problem.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

This calls to mind the old saw about how the battles in academia are so bitter because the stakes are so small. People often become the most hateful about things that matter the least in the grand scheme of things, while being utterly oblivious to the impact of problems that actually can and do change their lives in bad ways.

Also, the article may as well have been written about how dealing with hate is a cost of doing business if you’re running any digital service where your relationships with customers are all or mostly virtual and anonymized. Game developers feel this universally because that’s how they all operate these days, but it’s a fact of life in any business that operates primarily over the internet and does not involve any IRL contact with customers.

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Robert Mann

Sadly, even being in face to face contact doesn’t stop it, but people sure do like to be jerks all the more when they don’t have the possibility of somebody raging and decking them!

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i’ve seen enough fast food restaurant rage videos on youtube to realize this stuff happens for any kind of business digital or not.

the internet merely makes it more visible. and with that visibility we convince ourselves it happens far more often and from far more people that is really the case.

as it goes with the 24/7 news cycle since the 90s or so.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Maybe. But if people get physical at McDonald’s the cops get called. And my experience in retail was that it happened, sure, but it was never a typical day for every 10th person in line to come up screaming they’re going to burn down your house because their fries were cold.

The unstable individuals show up now and then in face-to-face interactions in any business, but it’s not the same non-stop daily stream of hate you get over the most mundane topics in almost any virtual setting.

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deekay_plus

and when people get phyiscal over the internet like with swatting the cops get called too.

and it’s no where near 10% of game consumers making threats. this is literally one of the most popular if not the most popular form of entertainment in the world with billions of people consuming games every day. it’s probably more like much less than 1% of customers going on social media or writing emails to rage at let alone threaten game devs.

if there was a single central mcd’s and they ran out of chicken nuggets it’d look alot like the raging we see with games online i imagine.

edit: i would bet you good money that if i look at mcd’s twitter feed mentions/rplies and their facebook page i will undoubtedly find a steady stream of people raging and threatening them over the most trivial things.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

I agree that it’s not 10% of players, or even 10% of commenters, but do you really think more than 90% of comments directed at game developers through game-related forums and social media are rational, well-reasoned, and polite?

Cause if so, I’d like to know what internet you’re using, and what game you’re playing. I think only 10% of comments on a daily basis being some degree of personally hostile is on the low end. Death threats may be rare, but lower grades of assholism are routine.

That’s both the lament of the article and the complaint here; the fact that we view this as “normal” in a virtual setting is part of the problem.

The distinction is that IRL one customer is one interaction, more or less, when you’re dealing day to day and face to face. In a virtual setting, you have zero interaction with 95% of your customers, so the vitriolic assholes account for a far larger share of the interactions that do occur.

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David Goodman

I think rational, well-reasoned, and polite doesn’t describe humanity. :) However, 90% of commenters are not toxic – they’re just unremarkable, one way or another, and that’s the important thing.

It’s a boring answer, but here’s the truth: Most people in an community / forum are just ‘also-theres’. For every toxic player, there are a hundred well-intentioned, well-spoken, polite posters, and for each of them, there are legions upon countless legions of people who ask one question, get one answer, and then their post falls to page 1,000 within 10 minutes to be forgotten and never heard from again, and yet, they are undoubtedly part of the community.

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Tanek

I think that visibility makes it even more of an issue. If people don’t push back against it when it is right there for all to see, then it will be normalized, it will be what kids see and some of them will think it is how to act online.

Even if it is a small percentage, if they are allowed to be the loudest voices and are not confronted, eventually they matter more than the rest of us.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

the internet like cable news networks before it makes mountains of mole hills out of the tiniest niche things.

did that normalize butt chugging and rainbow parties?

if anything it’s weird that we convince ourselves that twitter trendign hashtags represent society as a whole or even a large fraction of the population nowadays.

but certainly news outlets these days love to cherry pick tweets from those hashtags to present a narrative about how “society feels” or “this group of people are awful!”

and confronting these people being awful oti tends to just help them rationalize and justify their shitty behaviour. and any argument to the contrary is taken as either what society feels somehow or more evidence of your own group’s shitty behaviour.

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bobfish

Its not really a games industry specific thing, anything that people can get passionate or emotional about will result in abuse.

I worked in retail before the games industry and verbal and physical abuse was a known problem that came with the job, though thank fully not a common occurrence. So when I made the move to the games industry it wasn’t a surprise to me that it existed.

It is kind of sad though that it exists to the extent that it does. I think I had worked in the games industry for about three years before I received my first death threat, and this was before social media was a thing, before Facebook or Twitter.

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CMDR Crow

A great deal of this is effected by the fact that humans react and hold on to negative feelings much more readily than positives. It is a natural, evolutionary trait to remember bad things concretely while allowing better stuffs to easy be forgotten.

So we focus on the bugs and moments of disruption over the hours of joy. We take out anger and frustrations in an anonymous, online setting because it becomes overwhelming and comes from many areas of life. Companies respond to anger. Anger drives scores and metrics. It is far easier to lose good-will than it is to cultivate it.

So we remain stuck in a cycle where we crisis-mode respond to negatives which further pushes out positives and then the whole cycle is negative because positive doesn’t “drive” profit like sparking outrage. Just enough outrage makes your game the most visible for a few days. Gets that front-page, high-engagement. Too much and you’re done. Too little and you never grow.

Community Management is the art of never allowing outrage to tip over, while maintaining enough buzz to get new people in the door. The only way to escape is to lower expectations and seek out the smaller, positive-driven communities either within larger words or smaller worlds, themselves.

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misterpiece84

I think that at it’s core, the problems comes from what kind of people plays video-games. It is pointless to say “but I’m not like that”, what counts here is the majority. When the majority behaves in a certain way, everyone follows the lead. Groups can influence behaviour very deeply, an example would be the professors at universities being harassed when facing a crowd only to receive deep apologies from the students through private channels few hours later.

Whether the average MMO player is a despicable human being with very questionable moral values or he behaves so only in the MMO context doesn’t really matter in the end, because what each of us has to deal with is this avatar of hate and rudeness. So I think that we can say that, for all intents and purposes and without offending anyone, MMO players are one of the worse kind of human beings.

Pair that with how easy it is nowadays to create a new account on any site like reddit and use it to throw insults around, and you get a volatile mixture.

Seeing how certain players behave, is for me motivation to get out there and do my part when I play MMOs. These kind of articles remind me that it falls on us, the “decent” players to raise the standards in the communities of the games we play.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

just because a group of people is visible and vocal does not make them the majority.

just like how raiders in mmo’s are super visible and vocal but when devs reveal their internal metrics for how much of the playerbase is actually doing that content it’s a super small minority.

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Bruno Brito

These minority groups also cause quite a lot of damage.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

it’s kind of interesting you linked a tweet from scapes. my friends and i dealing with archeage (NA/EU launch) issues and his curious behaviour/personality we became convinced “he” was a dummy account used by multiple people at trino.

we were even more surprised when he left trino and went to a different company to do much the same weird postings from what i recall and it deepened the mystery.

which in both games’ cases we could totally get why such a thing would be done – that is make a dummy cm account to be used by multiple people to take on the verbal abuse over w/e issues.

which is pretty much the entire job of the CM – to be a buffer between the customer and the producer/developer, much like ticketmaster takes the rage of concert goers for high ticket prices away from musicians.

ultimately it’s something that exists in most if not all forms of commercial enterprise and while we can certainly cringe and find it obnoxious in gaming (and it is rather obnoxious), rage like this is fairly muted in gaming compared to many other types of business’s customer rage fits.

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shibby523

From Trion he went to Bethesda and now is at Frostkeep.

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angrakhan

I have a good bit of experience in the home building (14 years) and property title (6 years) industries. I build software for those industries, and I can say that the customer rage that I’ve seen involves not only the verbal abuse, but the threat of lawsuits, actual lawsuits, and even union protests (good times). I can definitely agree that this kind of customer rage is not limited to the gaming industry.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

that’s another good point. even when they have good reason to gamers almost never sue game companies for any reason.

there’s at least a half dozen of examples of scenarios that played out where i thought “they really probably should sue over this” but nothing came out of it.

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Cosmic Cleric

1) People should never treat other people that way. We should police each other, as a society, with a minimum amount if “who are you to say …” counter comments.

2) Game/publishing companies are not 0% at fault for this rise in toxicity. Treat your customers well (don’t abuse the for profit sakes), and spend monies policing your game world’s, and this would be less of a problem.

3) See #1.

4) Meta: A side effect of the shrinking/gone middle class? (People get angry when they can’t get their root beer.)

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bobfish

Middle class people can be just as toxic, because one of their defining qualities is they are self-entitled, which leads to a lot of anger when they believe they are wronged.

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Robert Mann

Meh, it’s an attitude problem. People need to get their cheek slapped a few times over it, and learn that it just plain isn’t acceptable behavior. That, sadly, won’t happen.

If it did, then people would likely learn (in the majority) to take a moment to channel their frustrations properly, and respond with a less hateful tone. That doesn’t mean less assertive against things where they feel wronged, just less of that attitude which prompts others to want to knock their teeth in.

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Bruno Brito

You mean a metaphorical cheekslap, right?

Because violence never helps.

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Robert Mann

I’m afraid that if things don’t hurt, people don’t learn. Whether physical or not. I’m fine with metaphorical, but… it’s the fear of just retribution that keeps the worst elements of humanity somewhat in check, and that is sorely lacking online.

I don’t really advocate violence, but there are times I do think the possibility is all that keeps some people relatively civil.

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BalsBigBrother

It is never ok to subject anyone to abuse verbal, written or otherwise in any circumstances let alone over a game. You can disagree, even vehemently without needing to resort to such abuse. I find it rather sad that this seems to be a default starting position for a fair number of folks, really sad /sigh

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Zora

At times it gets surreal, when companies hire as their public faces people that are/were renown as exactly that kind of verbally abusive people and pit them against already unstable communities.

I swear unto our lord and saviour Chris Roberts that I am not thinking about Blizzard /whistles innocently

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Robert Mann

Eh, Blizzard has had many a terrible CM. In fact, their issues there led to me saying goodbye to the studio. I haven’t touched one of their games in over 5 years now. I wish everyone who enjoys their games well, and don’t want anything other than to avoid a company that treated me as a paying customer very poorly.

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deekay_plus

i’m surprised any game company would touch frost after his debacle at carbine.

not sure if that’s who you’re referring to tho.

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Denice J. Cook

Clearly, people with mental health issues permeate all areas of life. If they game, this is what you read from them.

It’s driving down the street next to their cars, or working beside them that I really fear, though.

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Bruno Brito

In Brazil, we call these people the “good citizens”.

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Denice J. Cook

ROFL!

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Cosmic Cleric

In Brazil, we call these people the “good citizens”.

Seriously, what is it about the Brazilian culture/society that their gamers have such a bad rep for toxicity? Honestly want to know.

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