Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how toxic gamers try to intimidate Blizzard devs

As the discussion and response to Overwatch’s legendary toxicity problem continues, even the development team isn’t spared from the impact of this, ahem, “passionate” community.

Game Director Jeff Kaplan wrote a somewhat raw essay to tell players what it is like to be a developer on the project and deal with the stress and harassment that comes with it. “Developers speak to you directly, using our real names,” he said. “And if you’ll allow me to speak openly for a moment — it’s scary. Overall, the community is awesome to us. But there are some pretty mean people out there. All of our developers are free to post on these forums. Very few of us actually do because it’s extremely intimidating and/or time consuming.”

Kaplan also paints a somewhat sad picture of a team that is pressured to keep up with the game and on top of all of its controversies: “Overwatch is a 24/7, 365 days a year affair for us. Overwatch doesn’t stop because it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday evening. Overwatch doesn’t stop because it’s our kids’ birthday.”

Maybe it’s OK to take a break once in a while? That kid deserves a dad to watch him blow out the candles on his cake. Just saying.

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76 Comments on "Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on how toxic gamers try to intimidate Blizzard devs"

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Byórðæįr

ten hours with 45 minutes to 2 hours a day is what attorneys are legally allowed to work since beyond those hours you start making too many mistakes. I can not see how that does not effect developers the say way.

The California traffic likely eat another two hours a day out of developers working in Anaheim, but I have missed way too many of my kids birthdays due to working for the department of the defense over the years but if you have the option of posting a head of time to the forums slight delay this weekend kid’s birthday is being celebrated, you might get some people freaking out but most people would wish the kid a happy birthday. We are gamers not gamblers.

The mean people they are either the ones that are looking for an outlet in games and can not tell the difference between blowing off steam in a single player game and remembering that mmo let you relax and find humor in the weird thing some one says that makes you laugh when you are stressing out. Stress does not go away from blowing it off, it goes away from taking a nap and having someone make you laugh or giggle.

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socontrariwise

“Overwatch is a 24/7, 365 days a year affair for us. Overwatch doesn’t stop because it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday evening. Overwatch doesn’t stop because it’s our kids’ birthday.”

I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with a company that talks that way – and yeah, I have a very demanding, well paying job in critical environment.

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Chris Mc

Talk about a drama queen.

ceder
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ceder

Its a vicious circle though. Both sides contribute to the toxicity in their own ways.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Experience is a wonderful teacher, maybe Jeff needs to keep this in mind when he is working on a new game with designers and developers.

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steve

Toxic players trying to intimidate poor Jeff Kaplan, aka Tigole Bitties, who earned fame in the annals of MMO history with regular gems like this:

“Whoever came up with this sheer fisting of an encounter can go fuck themselves. Do me a favor so I don’t waste my guild’s time on this kind of jackass shit-fest again, send me an email at tigole@legacyofsteel.net when you decide to A) Implement an encounter that wasn’t designed by a retarded chimp chained to a cubicle A.)Get a Quality Assuarance Department C) Actually beta test the fucking thing and D) Patch it live. And please for god’s sake — do it in the order I laid out for you. Don’t worry, I won’t charge you a consulting fee on that one. And for good luck you might as well E) Pull your heads out of your asses. While you’re at it rename the game to BetaQuest since you’ve used up you’re alotted false advertising karma on the Bazaar and user interface scam of ’01.Fix the Emperor encounter. Fix Seru. Rethink your time-sink bullshit. Fix all the buggy motherfucking ring encounters (I suggest you let whoever made the Burrower one do this since that dude apparently laid off the crack the rest of you were smoking). Fix the VT key quest. Fix VT (just guessing it’s fucked up considering your track record). Don’t have the resources to fix this stuff? Move the ENTIRE Planes of Power team over to fixing Shadows of Luclin AND DO IT NOW. If you don’t fix Luclin, you jackassess will be the only ones playing the Planes of Power.”

Perhaps those toxic players are just trying to do it the way you did, Jeff. You made out pretty well for becoming famous for being a toxic douchebag who helped RUIN RAIDING with your egotistical, elitist bullshit.

Don’t let this guy, of all people, preach to you about not being a douchebag.

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Utakata

Now this is a “both sides” argument. Being shortsited when developing the raid or die paradigm that is inflicted upon WoW is not really the equivalency of being a toxic D bag. Even if he were being a D bag about it, it’s just not the same thing IMO.

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steve

Of course. Once Kaplan was picked up by Blizzard he was always a professional as far as I know, and he never made death threats or criminal statements even in his early days. His ‘salt’ was entertaining, though still incredibly toxic and bullying by any standard.

But I argue he wasn’t shortsighted in his early behavior. He was bullying the EQ developers and he and the Raid or Die set had an incredible influence on, and almost a symbiosis with the development process.

I don’t tolerate teammates who “act ugly” as grandma would put it, and a death threat is a criminal act and should be lawfully dealt with, but what he did back then was the same sort of developer abuse he’s now preaching against. I’m not against his message, but I’m not going to trust his intentions.

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Sorenthaz

Yes, because nobody can change in 15 years.

…You realize that’s from 15 years ago before he was even hired by Blizzard, right?

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steve

I was there through most of it, and was aware of his influence on WoW as I moved to play that game at launch.

I’ve no doubt the man has learned to communicate in a non-toxic manner. I am not implying that Jeff Kaplan would say things this way now.

But that’s how he started. By the time he’d cleaned up his act he had leveraged his behavior into enough influence that growing up became a matter of survival, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the current position of authority he now uses to berate toxicity was built upon the very sort of toxic bullying of developers he now wants to preach against.

Jeff might as well have said, “Don’t behave like I did, or you might become so influential in the industry that you wind up bullying your way into a senior development gig.”

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Bruno Brito

Wish, yeah. You can think anything.

Keep to your thoughts, tho

styopa
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styopa

“…sad picture of a team that is pressured to keep up with the game and on top of all of its controversies…”
Meh, while I agree about not generally being a dick to anyone, this part falls flat.
Nobody’s making them do these jobs. If they want to work an 8 hour shift and be done, there are plenty of folks out there working such jobs who would be DELIGHTED to trade jobs – any paychecks – with Blizzard developers.

FWIW I can sympathize. I work a job that’s 9-10 hours a day, plus I’m more or less on-call 24/7. I’m a small businessperson; what I gain in freedom and income, I’ve paid in missed kids birthdays, missed sleep, etc. I’m not complaining. I too know that there are a LOT of less stressful, simpler jobs out there but to provide for my family I need this income.

And any ‘controversy’ is at least half ginned up by their own marketing dept & management. They don’t HAVE to stoop into the mess of it, their response could simply be “we’re sorry you feel that way; we’ve made the best game we know how to and hope people enjoy playing it” full stop.

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Schmidt.Capela

As far as I could understand, it’s not about how demanding the job is. Rather, talking to the community isn’t actually part of their jobs, it’s something they volunteer to do — and then they get flak from the community, ranging from people making demands too forcibly to actual death threats.

In other words, if the community (or part of it) treats devs that talk to them as trash, don’t be surprised if devs stop talking and start ignoring the community.

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Greaterdivinity

I know I fail at this as well, but pretty relevant –

View post on imgur.com

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Scratches

Do you fail because your name is actually Richard?

I mean, that ‘motivational poster’ could cause quite an existential complex for such a person, if you really think about it….

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Knox Harrington

I’d argue that it isn’t that easy because emotions run high in competition. Even amongst family, brothers fight. Why would it be any different among strangers you’ll never meet?

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Bruno Brito

Being a dick is different than acting on impulse.

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Utakata

I wouldn’t go that far. But either way, it doesn’t nor should it excuse such behaviors in any way, shape or form.

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Bruno Brito

We have societal laws to make people answer for all the crap they did on impulse.

The core difference is: Everyone acts rash sometimes. Not everyone is a dick.

If i end up in a fight because of a rash action, i have to deal with the consequences anyway, but i still have the leverage to say: “my bad, it was on impulse.”

If i go picking fights everyday, i’m a raging asshole.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Millions of gamers manage to compete against strangers and argue with developers every day without threatening lives or spewing slurs. Please don’t normalize crappy behavior.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah there’s definitely a line between “wtf are you guys doing you just threw the game with that idiotic play ffs” to “kys you bronze trash and gtfo of my game”.

Getting frustrated is natural when you have any sort of desire to win a game and put a lot into it. I’ve done that plenty of times while playing LoL and other competitive games and so far haven’t had any penalties applied to my account, probably because 1. I don’t do it regularly and 2. I’m not telling people to go kill themselves, calling them horrid slurs, or doing other stuff to intentionally tear them down.

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Knox Harrington

Threatening lives and spewing slurs is on a whole other level of toxicity than what I was referring to. That’s beyond just “being a dick” and more in the realm of “being a sociopath”, at which point “being nice” just isn’t an option because you’re dealing with someone who has a mental health issue.

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steve

I’ll accept that from you, Mrs. Royce. It’s true.

It’s also true that, death threats aside, this is Tigole. He made his reputation off of browbeating devs to favor the ideals of a bunch of elitist jerks, then he got picked up as a rockstar developer and pushed those bad ideas for years in WoW.

I understand that it’s been a long time and he’s not that same toxic player, but he remains a poor spokesperson for being kind to poor developers.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I do not disagree. It loses some impact coming from someone with his history. It’s still true, just weird to see him as the face of anti-toxicity at Blizzard. Everyone grows up, I suppose.

(Mrs Royce is my grandmother. I didn’t change my name when I married. :P)

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kgptzac

“Developers speak to you directly, using our real names,”

Call me crazy for calling you crazy here… why do you have to use your real name? Does your boss force RealID on your forum account?

Inconceivable.

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Stormwaltz

In the early days — we’re talking turn of the century — it was normal for devs to use pseudonyms. These days, most companies have policies that require developers who interact with players to do so under their real names, clearly identifying themselves as employees of the company.