Elite Dangerous has drawn a line in the sand on toxicity – toxicity against its staff, that is.
Frontier’s lead community manager, Arthur Tolmie, posted a missive to the forum telling players that while feedback on the game is fine, harassment of the Frontier devs isn’t acceptable. While Tolmie doesn’t mention a specific incident, it sounds a bit as if players have been hassling devs on their personal social media accounts. Here’s the key section, wherein Tolmie suggests that attacks on the staff will be met with permanent bans.
“[I]t is unfortunate to see members of the community relaying their frustrations by insulting, making accusations, and launching personal attacks towards my team or other staff members. I would like to address this form of communication directly. ‘Shooting the messenger’ is no longer something I will be tolerating going forward, as these comments are actively harming our efforts to improve the experience for our community. Similarly, those attacking other members of the community will not be tolerated either. From this point forwards, posts that attack, insult, accuse or are deemed harmful towards individual members of staff or teams, will result in a permanent ban from the channels they are posted on: forums, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. This includes, but is not limited to, private messages to personal social accounts of staff members. Remember, going forward, that those you are addressing are real people. Frustrations surrounding a video game are not a justifiable reason to attack another human being’s mental health and wellbeing.”
You would think this goes without saying; heck, we just wrote a long piece ourselves about toxicity toward developers that stemmed from harassment of a Pokemon Go staffer who was run off social media by toxic players. Yesterday, we had a similar dust-up present itself when a WoW author received death threats over her work. It doesn’t help you get what you want from the game. It just chases decent people from the industry and makes you an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.
The forum thread is locked to replies, though the Reddit discussion is ongoing, but it’s hard to tell whether any lessons have been learned here. Many players are upset about the attacks on devs; others are doubling-down or calling for firings. Some are arguing that Odyssey’s poor launch “brought all the crazies” out of the woodwork; others are accusing Frontier of lying or using player toxicity to deflect legitimate criticism of the botched release. One player even sarcastically called it “emergent gameplay,” presumably a nod to when Frontier has used that term for toxic behavior in-game while doing little to confront it. Perhaps that’s the real lesson here: As far too many studios have been slow to learn in this industry, you do get exactly the playerbase you tolerate.