Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”
“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”
Relatedly, MMORPG veteran Raph Koster reposted slides from an older talk on Twitter that homes in on how community management has changed thanks to the “culture wars.” The 2015 GDC talk, which would’ve come out on the heels of the initial round of Gamergate, discusses large-scale communities, the problems of anonymity, the blurring of lines between communities and staff thanks to things like Kickstarter and social media, the rise of mobbing and harassment, and how game companies can head off the “negative feedback loops” that create just these kinds of fiascos without necessarily putting all of the hard work on the very people most at risk.
This very good article has many lessons that are directly applicable to community management — perhaps relevant in these days of heightened tensions between devs and segments of the player audience. https://t.co/cC7ttGntfV Also echoes a lot of https://t.co/sEhyCXooeY
— Raph Koster (@raphkoster) July 9, 2018
Further reading on the incident and ensuing fallout: