As gamers, we’ve all faced negativity. It’s either been in forums, message boards, Youtube comments on game trailers, or, the most common, behind a headset and television screen. But what does all this negative noise do? Do our comments, yelling, swearing, and, for some gamers, threats actually affect the industry as a whole, or is it just to those people we’re directing our anger or disdain at? The answer is that it affects everything, from the macro to the micro, and can have some severe consequences when put in the wrong context.
There have been recent two examples of negative backlash that have sent ripples through the industry, and both of them were severely inappropriate to the people at hand. The first one to address is the attack on Phil Fish, the indie game developer that created the game “Fez.” Fish was attacked viciously by an editor for the gaming site gametrailers.com over the leak about Microsoft’s game development feature in the Xbox One. The editor made a personal attack on many indie developers, especially Fish, for remaining silent on the matter. Fish said that he did not want to comment on the situation until Microsoft made its official announcement. The vitriol that soon occurred from both people who wanted information on the matter, and the people who were idiotically following the editor’s example eventually caused Fish to snap on Twitter. This outburst led to Fish abandoning both “Fez 2” and, according to him, the gaming industry entirely.
This is a rare example of negative vitriol leading to not only the end of a game’s development, but the end of a developer’s entire career. These don’t really occur on this scale often, however it’s a important to take note of this, and try to learn from it. I doubt many of us would want to have other Phil Fish’s leave the gaming industry due to negative backlash over nothing at all. It’s a dangerous precedent that needs to remain an isolated incident or else we’ll keep losing a lot of good developers, which is something this industry can’t afford.
The next example I want to point out is something of grave concern, to both developers and just gamers in general. I’m talking about the unbelievable hatred that was spurred by a simple update to guns in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The developers realized that certain guns in the game were overpowered and needed to be nerfed in order to try and keep the game fair to other players. The changes were not even related to the stopping power of the guns themselves. The changes were related to the reload times and firing rates of the weapons, and were only put to fractions of a second. One of the guns in question had its firing rate changed by .1 seconds, a truly minuscule amount of time. What came from this seemed like something out of fiction. Gamers that played Black Ops 2 released an onslaught of hatred, vitriol, and anger, to the point where the developers of the games were personally threatened with their own deaths and the deaths of their families.
This was all due to nothing else but the fact that these gamers were selfish and wanted to keep the status quo, to the point where they threatened the lives of the people who made the game they were angry about in the first place. But is the status quo something worth threatening the lives of innocent people over? The answer is clearly no, especially in gaming. It appears that what a lot of gamers fail to realize is that all a game consists over at its core is binary digits and data. The game is not real, tangible, or has any effect on their own lives.
The disgusting behavior of some people in the gaming community is appalling. The scope of some of these events, and how escalated they can get is almost terrifying, and it needs to stop. Treyarch even said that these negative gamers are a scourge on the industry, and their behavior speaks volumes in agreement. Now, it’s clear that these are a minority of gamers, but it’s still important to realize that gamers don’t have the best reputation in modern culture, and events like this don’t make us look any better. If negative noise is one of the biggest problems in the gaming industry to the point where developers leave entirely, then we need to find a means of silencing this disruptive noise before it starts to corrupt the entire world of gaming. Whatever means that may be, I pray that it comes swiftly and doesn’t cause a schism in this brotherhood that gaming has forged between gamers across the globe. This is Saxy, and let’s keep on gaming.