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Adam Orth: Internet toxicity has been "chilling" for industry

Adam Orth: Internet toxicity has been "chilling" for industry

Thu 20 Mar 2014 9:44pm GMT / 5:44pm EDT / 2:44pm PDT
PeopleOnlineGDC 2014

Former Microsoft employee describes what he went through after the #dealwithit tweet and how internet toxicity is hurting devs

By now, you all know the Adam Orth story. On April 4, 2013, the (now former) Microsoft employee published a tweet that changed his life forever. In commenting on Microsoft's Xbox One always-on policies with a hashtag #dealwithit, Orth brought on a firestorm of pure vitriol from gamers across the web. It was ugly. Four days later he resigned from his job, and during a talk at GDC today called "Mob Rules: The Destructive Power of Opinion and Online Community," he described how the outpouring of hate truly affected him on a deeper level.

"I was becoming the next victim of the internet hate phenomenon. It was an absolute feeding frenzy. My public and private life was fair game," he described. "People began to distance themselves from me. I was dejected, ashamed and embarrassed. I destroyed my career and feared being blacklisted by the industry. I went from income to no income."

Orth mentioned how the death threats spun out of control, how people were actually wishing cancer upon him and his child. It's a sad commentary on our society that this form of internet toxicity is seemingly acceptable in our society, he said. As Manveer Heir pointed out in his talk yesterday, misogyny, racism and homophobia is all too common nowadays, and Orth was subjected to it all online.

"The reason that internet threats are terrifying is not the possibility of the realization of a violent act; it's that society has regressed to a point that this behavior and discourse is an acceptable and expected response to something someone doesn't like or agree with," he lamented.

Orth continued, noting that "most developers don't even raise an eyebrow at this because this is the new normal. As an industry we've become desensitized to this insane behavior because it's overwhelming, ubiquitous and unstoppable. Somehow we've devolved while moving forward, and there's no going back..."

"Be the shining example to inspire others to action. Never forget the joy you get or that you give by illuminating it with video games"

Orth said he attempted to get comments from devs on the topic of internet toxicity, but none would go on the record by name, and even those who spoke anonymously were limited. From those he talked to, however, the pattern was clear: internet toxicity was hurting developers and making them rethink their career. "I just don't want to make games for these people anymore," said one depressed dev. Orth said he's witnessed an "us versus them theme" develop among game creators and players. "It's chilling," he said and that one developer quote "represents a total breakdown of how our industry fundamentally functions and foreshadows possible dark times ahead."

"Internet toxicity has the power to shit on something beautiful and destroy it," Orth remarked.

Indeed, there are some developers who've been driven away by internet toxicity. Flappy Bird creator Dong Ngyuen is the latest example. But the good news is that some companies are trying to change player behavior. Obviously there's no way to police the whole internet, but developers like Riot are at least setting a good example in how they've handled misbehaving players in League of Legends, Orth said, and he cited the approach thatgamecompany took with multiplayer in Journey which removes voice and text to focus on gameplay cooperation - it just removes the possibility of any toxic behaviors seeping in.

As bad as the situation has been, and as horrible as the outpouring of hate was for Orth personally, he actually appeared to be grateful for the experience as he reflected on what happened. "I survived," he said. "You either curl up in the fetal position or you carry on...This was the best thing that happened to me. When I tell that to people they can't believe it, but it's f***ing true. When everything burned to the ground, it became a forcing function for radical reset. I saw it as an opportunity of a lifetime. I grew closer to my friends and family, I matured as a person, I became a better parent, got healthy and lost 50 pounds, and I recommitted and rededicated myself to my creative life."

Orth is now making a game called Adrift, which attempts to shine a spotlight on the destructive power of internet toxicity and he asked the developers in the room to do their part. "Be the shining example to inspire others to action. Never forget the joy you get or that you give by illuminating it with video games," he said.

And for the developers who are either facing internet hate right now or those who could one day be the subject of such toxic behavior, he had a little advice: "Life is too short to worry about anonymous internet activity. You have to look inward and block it out. What they are saying is a reflection of their life, not yours. Fighting back on their level is pointless. Eventually they tire out. Keep building, keep dreaming."

68 Comments

Gareth Eckley Commercial Analyst

88 67 0.8
As someone who worked on a relentlessly peer reviewed game and was subject to internet vilification (there's an Urbandictionary entry just for me), I have some strong feelings about this piece. However, I will defer to someone older and wiser in this field to set the tone. :)

Posted:7 months ago

#1

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Popular Comment
Man. Someone really should have told him that when someone wishes cancer on your and your children, you and your children aren't actually likely to get any cancer from it. Probably could have saved him a lot of emotional trauma.
"I survived," he said. "You either curl up in the fetal position or you carry on...This was the best thing that happened to me. When I tell that to people they can't believe it, but it's f***ing true. When everything burned to the ground, it became a forcing function for radical reset. I saw it as an opportunity of a lifetime. I grew closer to my friends and family, I matured as a person, I became a better parent, got healthy and lost 50 pounds, and I recommitted and rededicated myself to my creative life."
Well, I'm super proud of him. He survived. How they made that James Franco movie about that kid who gnawed his own arm off, and this guy doesn't get a three picture deal documenting his own rise, fall, and inspiring rise from the ashes, I have absolutely no idea.

Seriously though, this whole issues is BS. Nobody is defending those who make truly toxic claims, like death threats, rape threats, threats of magical justice from above, whatever. That's all nonsense, and nobody is really much of a fan, but neither should ANYONE lose even a second's sleep over it. Those people don't matter, and they don't really care. None of them are lying in bed repeating their curses in their heads, they just said some BS on the Internet and then moved on with their day, take their example.

If you can't read comments sections without taking it personally, just don't read comment sections. You don't have to. Ideally though you should be able to read comments and filter out the stuff that has some actual content to it, stuff that makes some valid point, from the dross where they're just throwing feces at the wall. Is it sad when a talented but apparently fragile developer goes full turtle in response to a little pointless jibber-jabber? Sure, but neither is it a sign that "the culture" has gotten out of hand, or that "the Internet" needs to "check themselves," it's just a sign that the dev in question needs to sack up and get back to work, or find an occupation in which he doesn't have to deal with criticism (I wouldn't suggest anything involving the arts).

Again, nobody is trying to justify the behavior of trolls, but two wrongs don't make a right, and just because trolls gonna troll doesn't mean that developers are justified in freaking out about it.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tim Ogul on 21st March 2014 6:55am

Posted:7 months ago

#2

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,135 1,171 1.0
The hashtag was a confrontational statement. In real life, how many people dare you really to confront at once? How many Liverpool fans does it take, before you reconsider shouting "hashtag Manchester" at them?

This is just my rule of thumb, but if you are confrontational to a large group, you better bring the best arguments and include a willingness to accept the arguments tossed at you, even if that means altering your opinion in the process; information alters perception.

His statement was not only confrontational, it was also void of arguments and showed no willingness to absorb a differing opinion. To make matters worse it was distributed over a network where posting solid arguments is impossible and to the largest crowd imaginable.

Posted:7 months ago

#3

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
The social media is full of anonymous sociopaths.
Whoever you are and whatever you do there are people who will attack you.
The answer is to throw freedom of speech out of the window and to censor everything unsavoury.
A Twitter block takes a couple of seconds and should be the automatic response to ALL abuse.
Any threats should be reported to Twitter.
Any activity that spills over into the real world should be reported to the police.

People who use the internet anonymously do not deserve freedom of speech.

Posted:7 months ago

#4

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

198 659 3.3
Popular Comment
Suspect those posting "man up, wimp" haven't ever been the target of the level of abuse Orth is talking about. Mainly because I'd prefer to think people are lacking empathy rather than compassion.

Posted:7 months ago

#5

Matthew Handrahan Staff Writer, GamesIndustry.biz

121 100 0.8
Popular Comment
I see what Orth said and the treatment he received as two distinct issues. The former is localised to him, the latter is an increasingly common experience among those working in professions with public visibility. Focusing on whether Orth should or shouldn't have made those comments drags the conversation back to a place that we passed more than a year ago, and obfuscates the real subject of his talk. Everyone is entitled to see this in any way they choose, of course, but I think the argument that 'it isn't worse, it's just more visible' is self-defeating. When it comes to this kind of antisocial behaviour, visibility is basically everything. If it's more visible, it's more of a problem.

I'm not naive enough to think we can make all of the a**holes disappear by just holding hands and singing protest songs, but we can confidently hold humanity to a higher standard than we saw in the response to Orth's tweets. Condemning this kind of threatening behaviour, regardless of how likely that is to manifest as reality - another flimsy argument, it must be said - is not the same thing as endorsing a controversial ownership strategy for a games console.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Matthew Handrahan on 21st March 2014 10:29am

Posted:7 months ago

#6

John Donnelly Quality Assurance

313 38 0.1
I want to second what Anthony said.
Until you see some of the abuse first hand you cant really relate.
Have I been abused on social media, not directly but I have seen it impact on someone yet it will never make the news nor will twitter adding a blocking feature fix it.

The mob mentality rules on the internet and it is a very scary tool when its is directed at you.
This is what the point of the article is about not what drew the mob out in the first place.

Posted:7 months ago

#7

Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media

59 87 1.5
@Bruce, I don't think freedom of speech is the problem in itself, but I do agree that anonimity is what enables this kind of behaviour.

We all have freedom of speech in the real world, but nobody walks around telling everyone to drop dead just because they have the wrong haircut. That's not thanks to oppression or an imposed limitation of freedom of speech, it's just because there are consequences (e.g. you might get punched in the face) that make you think twice and use that freedom responsibly (or at least with your own safety in mind). On the internet there are no consequences whatsoever -creating a new account every time you get banned is virtually effortless.
Too bad the implications of the infamous internet ID are too scary to get my support.

Posted:7 months ago

#8

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

321 748 2.3
Mob rule is a real problem but it isn't remotely the normal way that audiences interact with developers.

I am not sure why entirely discounting what Orth originally said is helpful. He waded into a tense situation in the most inflammatory way imaginable. "Don't drink the corporate Kool-Aid" and "Treat people with respect" are both good lessons to take away from the story.

Posted:7 months ago

#9

Matthew Handrahan Staff Writer, GamesIndustry.biz

121 100 0.8
I agree Robin.

I'd just be interested to see the conversation develop beyond what happened with Orth - it's a larger issue, I think, and the fact that Orth is giving the talk shouldn't entirely distract from that.

Posted:7 months ago

#10

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
Popular Comment
The level or response was completely unwarranted and ugly. That goes without saying. However even without the extreme element of death threats, cancer etc. I still think he would have been complaining about the level of anger towards what he said even if it had all been expressed in a reasonable manner. He made a very arrogant statement and was caught totally by surprise that there was such a strong feeling against what he said. Of course none of that warranted the very extreme end of the responses but I still think he would have felt victimised simply by the size of the backlash never mind the toxicity of parts of it.

After all. I doubt he lost his job because some of the comments were extreme. He lost it because he painted microsoft and xbox one in a negative light and made them look arrogant adn uninterested in consumers' views

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 21st March 2014 12:24pm

Posted:7 months ago

#11

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
With forums you can block user names, email addresses and IP addresses.
With Twitter you can block and report members.
On Facebook the same.

All social media have quick and easy to use tools to deprive sociopaths of a voice.
If these tools are used thoroughly and persistently by anyone who is abused then the abusers are deprived of their voice, they become impotent.

Posted:7 months ago

#12

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
"mob rule"? i would call it the voice of the masses. the "deal with it" mentality is what creates a feeling of helplessness among the gamers since years. they have to deal with all the crap companies unload on them to push their revenues. orth just stumbled over his own insensitiveness in this matter. he added fuel to the fire and wondered why it lit up.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 21st March 2014 12:40pm

Posted:7 months ago

#13

John Donnelly Quality Assurance

313 38 0.1
Sorry Bruce but those tools only go so far and do not actually fix the problem we are talking about.
Microsoft, Yahoo and Google provide endless free and disposible email addresses means you can create a constant supply of new twitter and facebook and other account.
Web proxies allow you to change your IP and get around IP blocks.

A determined attacker will continue to get around the basic tools in place.
I feel like you have missed the point, the problem is not that you can blocks/hide/avoid these people it is that this is now the norm.
Why should we need to block and report when in general in person the vast majority of people involved in these abuses would not dare to say these things to your face.

Posted:7 months ago

#14
Anyone saying internet hate doesn't affect them obviously hasn't had to deal with it. The seriousness of the threats doesn't even come into it.

Posted:7 months ago

#15

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,135 1,171 1.0
If all men were equal and speech was truly free, then why would it matter who said something? Everything could just be posted anonymously. It could be your decision whether a comment has your user name next to it or not. Even in this forum, names are but an arbitrary social contract we have made with each other. It is a courtesy, not a necessity. At least for those reading and writing on the Internet. There might still be the need for a non-anonymous back end to enable criminal investigations. Which is where the more subversive nature of the Internet comes in.

For any civilized forum discussion, the general tone and quality of posts is an issue. A company which enslaved itself to financial success, will soon find its freedom was, indeed, taken by the mob. Whether the mob is eloquent, soft spoken and argumentative, or not, is entirely the choice of the mob. But we all know how that goes....

For better or worse, the Internet is not an idyllic Utopia crafted by PR friendly fairies trying to sell you aspirational content, it's humanity in a mirror and you would be a fool to try and remove the shades that do not fit your PR plan.

Posted:7 months ago

#16

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
There are no good guys in this whole sorry affair, Orth is as guilty of 'internet toxicity' as the people he provoked. Yet still seems unaware or unrepentant and the people that need convincing aren't likely to listen to an unrepentant sinner.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 21st March 2014 1:53pm

Posted:7 months ago

#17

Alex Miaris 3D Animator

1 2 2.0
Mob rule is a real problem but it isn't remotely the normal way that audiences interact with developers.

I am not sure why entirely discounting what Orth originally said is helpful. He waded into a tense situation in the most inflammatory way imaginable. "Don't drink the corporate Kool-Aid" and "Treat people with respect" are both good lessons to take away from the story.
I agree and I'd like to add the following: The public's reaction to his statement was extreme and wrong. But there was absolutely no reason for him to say what he said. I really wish that he hadn't gone through all that and I'm happy that he recovered from that, but at the same time, just as people were getting angry, he dropped a bomb like that and in a very insensible way. I feel that he should have bitten his tongue and carried on doing his job instead.

Even if what he said on twitter had any merit, which I really don't think so, I disagree with his opinion on that matter, he had no reason to make his opinion public like that. Just like Klaus Preisinger said a few comments above, you don't go to a stadium full of Liverpool fans and shout " Go Manchester! ", the exact same thing applies to the internet. People often seem to underestimate what the internet really means, because it's just "text" on a screen.

In my opinion, if you are part of a company that is in the spotlight, or is just simply part of something that generates attention in some form or fashion, especially when the company is balancing on a thin line, you best leave it to the community managers and PR specialists to speak to the public. Unless you really know what you're doing and understand the potential consequences.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alex Miaris on 21st March 2014 5:05pm

Posted:7 months ago

#18

Anthony Chan Analyst, CPPIB

92 84 0.9
The tone of the responses indicate people don't necessarily understand what Orth went through was a natural response to a "mob" with entitlement issues - and yes I stand firm against all of you who cringe at that idea.

The problem today is the gamer. Developers and publishers need to remember, your games are your work. Your console designs are your console designs. The only one who should have input as to the final product coming to market is the company who invested into it. NOT THE GAMER. I can list recent episodes where this concept is being flushed down the toilet - Bioware and the Mass Effect 3 ending, Diablo 3 Wilson vs Brevik (and pretty much everything else on the forum to this date), Microsoft and XBone, and Square-Enix and its first rendition of its FFXIV. The list can go on.

The gamer suddenly feels by being "loyal" and by purchasing a game, they have a right to input to game design. This is an ideal, and it works for some games (mostly indie). It will not work for the AAA blockbusters. It would not have worked for GTA V. It would not have worked for CoD. It isn't working for Diablo 3.

The problem is, Gamers don't realize the motivation behind certain design concepts or reasons, is not purely driven by the gamer's enjoyment level in the game. But gamers feel the only thing game design should cater to - is them. This argument is completely flawed.

Either way, this topic irks me greatly, as it speaks to a larger issue. The VOCAL population of gamers are truly an unruly bunch. The have no sense of respect, and it seems they start every argument with "I paid for this product, I have a right to complain". This mentality is wrong in so many ways, and society for the longest time did not support this. In the "olden" days, if you disagree or are unhappy with a product, you suck it up buttercup, and you swear you never hand money over to that manufacturer of that product and that's it. Today, disgruntled youth are not satisfied with that. They need the rest of the quiet masses to go along with them. They want blood. They want a revolution. They feel if they can unite as one and destroy a company, a person they see responsible for their anger, they win. Developers, by catering to them, you are letting them win. You are empowering them. It's not right people, it's just not right.

Posted:7 months ago

#19

Lewis Pulsipher Game Designer, Author, Teacher

32 42 1.3
The idea/pattern of behavior seems to have grown (in the USA at any rate) that if someone disagrees with you, not only is he "wrong", he is evil, and therefore you can do all kinds of awful things to him without taking responsibility for YOUR actions. We demonize what we disagree with. Reasonableness in public and private discourse is disappearing. When I was a kid (the 50s and 60s) we had a saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". But that point of view has gone away.

Was Orth wrong to say what he said? Unwise, yes; wrong, perhaps; evil, NO. But he was treated by some commenters as though he was evil, and that was definitely wrong. Those who disagreed with Orth did not need to demonize him, and should not have, no matter what he said.

When Romans in the Republic lost their habit of reasonableness, their unwritten constitution could not withstand it, and after a century of civil wars, they ended with an Empire. When game "fans" routinely villify the makers of games, even free to play games, who knows where it will end.

Posted:7 months ago

#20

Edward Buffery Pre-production Manager

149 96 0.6
I think the difference between Orth's situation and Klaus' example is that his tweet wasn't deliberately made in front of an antagonistic crowd. He was expressing his opinion to the people who'd chosen to follow him or the topic(s), presumably which included several people who agreed with him, but from there it reached literally millions of people he had no intention of speaking to. It's more like shouting 'Go Manchester!" while watching a game in your local pub, but someone in the room calls up his mates from down the road to come along and cause you trouble, and they call up their mates and so on until you end up being banned from all nearby pubs for starting trouble, and now you and your family receive evil stares and snarky comments from total strangers every time you leave the house.

Personally, I'm glad he's got through this because it can't have been easy. It's not simply a matter of blocking few Twitter users. Once your name is known and hated by a large, anonymous and tech-savvy crowd, pretty much interacting with the internet in ANY way becomes a risk. Checking your email, opening up Facebook, using Twitter, making a post on an article, or logging into a forum that you've known on, none of the above will be safe from random abuse. Even if it takes 10 seconds to block someone and 10 times as long for a troll to create a new account, if it's you vs 1,000 trolls then time is on their side, not yours.

Posted:7 months ago

#21

Anthony Chan Analyst, CPPIB

92 84 0.9
@Lewis ... exactly. For example, I feel the majority of gamers who are of the "civilized" world would have spoken out against Microsoft with their wallet. Consumer sentiment for the XBOne was already decreasing due to always on design anyways. This message has always been louder than the vocal minority raging on.

There was no need to wish death on one man and his family. And there was no need even get all riled up to begin with. You just needed to vote with your wallet.

But certain gamers need more than that. They feel the need to riot and rage. This is not civilized behavior, and I think Orth is trying to speak to this problem.

Posted:7 months ago

#22

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Suspect those posting "man up, wimp" haven't ever been the target of the level of abuse Orth is talking about. Mainly because I'd prefer to think people are lacking empathy rather than compassion.
I've actually been the target of trolls before, some rather vicious, although certainly not the level of stupid this guy got, but at the end of the day, it's just words, and sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. There are people in this world who say things an receive actual death threats, not just Twitter nonsense. They actually get arrested by their governments, sometimes tortured. When people in Russia protest things, they get beaten and have caustic liquids thrown at them. Having to put up with the tragedy of having to ignore a few Internet trolls is not an unreasonable hardship.
"mob rule"? i would call it the voice of the masses.
Yeah. Remember, it's not "mob rule," because that would imply that they had some level of control. They don't. The people leveling death threats online have no real capacity to pull it off. They only hold so much power as you choose to give them. They "rule" absolutely nothing.
I think the difference between Orth's situation and Klaus' example is that his tweet wasn't deliberately made in front of an antagonistic crowd. He was expressing his opinion to the people who'd chosen to follow him or the topic(s), presumably which included several people who agreed with him, but from there it reached literally millions of people he had no intention of speaking to. It's more like shouting 'Go Manchester!" while watching a game in your local pub, but someone in the room calls up his mates from down the road to come along and cause you trouble, and they call up their mates and so on until you end up being banned from all nearby pubs for starting trouble, and now you and your family receive evil stares and snarky comments from total strangers every time you leave the house.
Sorry, a Twitter account on the Internet is not a local pub. If you post on the Internet, anywhere on the Internet, you have to understand that you're talking to an audience of anywhere between 0 and a couple billion, and you have zero control over the size of that audience. You need to make your comments accordingly.
Personally, I'm glad he's got through this because it can't have been easy. It's not simply a matter of blocking few Twitter users. Once your name is known and hated by a large, anonymous and tech-savvy crowd, pretty much interacting with the internet in ANY way becomes a risk. Checking your email, opening up Facebook, using Twitter, making a post on an article, or logging into a forum that you've known on, none of the above will be safe from random abuse. Even if it takes 10 seconds to block someone and 10 times as long for a troll to create a new account, if it's you vs 1,000 trolls then time is on their side, not yours.
I doubt he faced any trouble outside of a couple of weeks. Trolls have short attention spans, and as soon as he was no longer an active story, it would be a waste of their time to bother any longer. They likely found a new target of their ire.

Posted:7 months ago

#23

Tomis programmer

18 6 0.3
I guess now Orth is the one who has to #dealwithit. Ironic, isn't it?

Posted:7 months ago

#24

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

453 724 1.6
Popular Comment
I'm dumbfounded that people are justifying "I hope Adam Orth gets cancer and his children die in his arms and very bad things happen to him in real life" with "well, he kind of used a hashtag like a dick". What the fuck is wrong with some of you?

Posted:7 months ago

#25

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
I'm dumbfounded that people are justifying "I hope Adam Orth gets cancer and his children die in his arms and very bad things happen to him in real life" with "well, he kind of used a hashtag like a dick". What the fuck is wrong with some of you?
I don't think you're actually reading the comments. Nobody is "justifying" that sort of behavior, it is universally inappropriate. The points people are making are that:

1. Justifiable or not, he had to expect that sort of reaction under the circumstances, and his own actions were unwise. Someone wandering a bad part of town with a giant pillowcase with a $ sign on it does not "justify" someone mugging him, but neither is it a wise thing to do.

2. Justified or not, the reaction he received was all just talk, people wishing him cancer did not actually give him cancer, he was not harmed in any tangible way, so all his blubbering about how mean the Internet was to him is just pathetic.

TL;DR, there are trolls on the Internet, nobody agrees with or likes them, but also, entirely separate from that, Adam Orth is kind of an entitled [redacted].

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Ogul on 21st March 2014 10:42pm

Posted:7 months ago

#26

John Scalzo Editor-In-Chief, Warp Zoned

9 21 2.3
Ironically enough, Manveer Heir was the one who was trying to talk some sense into Orth during his tirade.

Posted:7 months ago

#27

Bonnie Patterson Freelance Narrative Designer

159 432 2.7
It kind of irks me when people use the word "trolls" to describe the people committing these actions. A "troll" when I was growing up was someone who posted something they didn't actually agree with for purposes of humour or to make a point - a kind of socratic dialogue whereby the person they were replying to was made to see the error in their arguments by being brought around to argue against themselves.

Having received a bunch of misogynist abuse online, I backtraced the users with good old Google and checked out their Facebooks, Twitter and activity on other forums, and even eyeballed one or two of them in games where they didn't know they knew me. Misogynist abusers were misogynist everywhere, and after performing the same test for a few friends, the racist ones were really racist and the homophobic ones were really homophobic. It doesn't just switch off after they've posted, they don't stop being ***s and become perfectly nice normal people.

Secondly, I think some people really underestimate what actually goes on during these rage attacks. Angry posts on a forum somewhere are one thing, but it gets steadily more intrusive. Direct replies to you come closer. Then you start getting private messages. Maybe they start contacting you on a different form of social media, then someone gives out that address and that gets swamped too. Sometimes you even get people phoning you, and in some cases people get sent photos of themselves or their house.

As well as angry messages and comments, you sometimes get sent "art work" or very lurid descriptions of what they'd like to happen to you. And a lot of angry penis pictures. Block buttons are all very well, but you can only block someone after they've gotten to you.

It's the same as when a stalker keeps phoning you - sure, you can hang up the phone, they can't actually hurt you through it, but they've still violated the one space where you're supposed to be safe - your home. And that's where most of our PCs are too.

Finally, it's all very well saying "No-one is condoning their behaviour, but...", except the moment you say "but" that's exactly what you're doing. If you want to actually stop stuff like this happening, you have to condemn unequivocally.

Internet harassment is harassment and the people who commit it are worth less than dirt.

Posted:7 months ago

#28

Derek Smart Software Developer/Engineer, 3000AD, Inc

29 1 0.0
I had so much that I wanted to say. Then I realized that the thread will most likely be flooded with a bunch of a33hats who have absolutely zero redeeming qualities.

So instead, I'm just going to say that I feel for Adam and quite pleased to hear that he was able to rise above it and is moving on with a life worth living.

Some people are intrinsically wired to be assholes and they revel in griefing and putting others down because it makes them feel better about themselves and their life less ordinary.

We - as devs - are supposed to take the high road, suck up this abusive shit - and hope that stuff blows away with time. That's bullshit. I am never - ever - going to turn the other cheek. Ever. I haven't changed this stance in the 25+ years that I've been doing this - and I never will.

In fact, exactly one month to the date, shortly after Techdirt (!) put up an article related to my on-going battle with degenerate a33hats on Steam forums, I tweeted about this very same online behavior. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s0kh33

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Derek Smart on 21st March 2014 11:17pm

Posted:7 months ago

#29

Matthew Handrahan Staff Writer, GamesIndustry.biz

121 100 0.8
2. Justified or not, the reaction he received was all just talk, people wishing him cancer did not actually give him cancer, he was not harmed in any tangible way, so all his blubbering about how mean the Internet was to him is just pathetic.
Hi Tim. I feel I need to step in here. if we really must debate the validity of the tweets Adam Orth published 12 months ago then that's fine, but I find this observation to be unhelpful and unnecessary.

Your sympathies are your sympathies - I get that - but there's really no need to diminish the experience of the recipient of this kind of hateful bile. That's a slippery slope, to be sure, and anyone who expressed even half of what Orth had to endure on these forums would find themselves out of favour. Your first point is well taken, if a little late to the party. Your second only undermines that stance.

In addition, your previous remarks about people being arrested and tortured by their governments are inappropriate and altogether too histrionic. I'm sure Adam Orth had no intention of drawing comparisons between his own plight and that suffered by the citizens of despotic regimes. It's not a fair representation of the issues being discussed.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Matthew Handrahan on 22nd March 2014 7:48am

Posted:7 months ago

#30

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

453 724 1.6
Tim - I think this is the larger point. Not that people criticized Adam - like I did - but more at the sheer vitriol, and worse, we all just kind of shrug and go "yeah, been there, par for the course".

Here's a normal person's reaction to what Adam did:

Adam: "#dealwithit"
Normal people: "Wow, you're a real jerk. Why would I buy a One now? Asshole."
Adam: "k :("

This is what anyone gets who says anything unpopular, ever, since the ubiquity of the internet came about:

Adam": "#dealwithit"
Internet psychotics: *every imaginable slur known to man, and every violent crime, all being roleplayed on your child, who they have found the name, age and address of*
Adam: "What the hell!?"

Yes, sure, no one is going to do anything about it... but what if one person does? That's the ultimate fear. 99.999% of these idiots online are losers, and if they did try to do something they would probably run out of breath before they got to their door... but what if....

I've been in a firestorm before. Nowhere near this level, of course, but I do remember when, in an article, I made a crack about Asperger's Syndrome. It was a shitty line in a somewhat shitty piece, if I'm being honest, and besides being horribly insensitive and poorly thought out, it wasn't very good. My comments blew up, my twitter blew up, my phone blew up, my *mother's* phone blew up, death threats, you name it. Again: people aren't going to do anything to actually kill me. But when your family starts getting involved, it shocks the system.

Remember that all of this is over video games. "But people pay a lot of mo--" Stop it. It's entirely disposable income. Nothing we do here is going to save the world, not even Zoe Quinnzel and her depression game. We got into this business - the business of making games, or writing about them - because we love video games. To have that love be turned around and have people attacking you is one thing; to have them doing it in ways that, when you stop to think about what they're saying, makes you wonder if your audience is *literally psychotic*... I get where Adam's coming from, and that, to me, is the major point of what he said, irregardless of whether or not I think he's a bit of a prat.

Posted:7 months ago

#31

Derek Smart Software Developer/Engineer, 3000AD, Inc

29 1 0.0
Matt, you beat me to it. THAT is the sort of discourse that some people use to justify abusive online behavior, which, on the face of it, is exactly what bullying is.

Posted:7 months ago

#32

Axel Cushing Writer / Blogger

104 130 1.3
A good chunk of this whole saga revolves around extremist behavior. On the one hand, we have the ragetrolls making death threats and wishing cancer upon somebody and his family. On the other hand, we have a elitist jerk who gives the sort of remark that feels like the converse of a hillbilly who swears he won't ever go to the big city. At those ends of the spectrum, nobody covered themselves in glory.

We never heard about the masses in the middle, the ones who ranged from "I'm excited by this idea!" to "Your company deserves whatever pain Wall Street will dish out!" Speaking for myself, I thought the whole "Xbone" debacle was an embarrassment for Microsoft and Orth deserved to catch hell for what he said. Death threats, that's going too far, clearly. Wishing cancer on people. . . yeah, that's just childish. But giving him a pass for being a myopic suit, no.

It's tempting to chalk it all up to "the coarsening of civilized behavior." To simply say, "anonymity makes you into an asshole," and then try to punish the massive middle for the excesses of the minority. But those kinds of answers don't do anything to address the real issues. Consumers do not operate in a vacuum, and neither do corporations. The problem seems to be that each side believes the other does operate in a vacuum, and one that is completely impenetrable. When was the last time politely worded emails or letters from a concerned customer actually caused a rethink on the release of a product? When was the last time a corporation was genuinely proactive about reaching out the bulk of its customer base? Most of the time, it's form letters and apathy. It's when the right variables pop up at the right time that causes such a circus. Too often, corporations reach out as a band-aid move because they've screwed up and got caught doing so, or have to do such massive damage control that they can't avoid talking to Joe Smith. Too often, the only thing that actually seems to get a major corporation's attention is when a cataclysmic tide of vitriolic hate smashes into them. To believe that customers have no say in what products get made is like denying the sky is blue. By the same token, to believe that companies have to be carpet bombed into submission is ludicrous.

There has to be a better conversation between company and consumer. Otherwise, the wheels come off completely and we get this sort of scenario over and over again.

Posted:7 months ago

#33

Paul Jace Merchandiser

939 1,420 1.5
I felt that Orth's statement was not only deplorable but also the start of Microsoft's Xbox One PR downward spiral. And while I didn't agree with him in the slightest way, that doesn't excuse people from wishing bodily harm to him and his family. The lesson learned from this is that two wrongs don't make a right. Everybody(on both sides) need to think before they speak/react. Orth doesn't deserve the treatment he received because of this mistake but he should have thought before using that hashtag and making those statements. And the people who have threatened him and his family over his comments should really learn to lighten up. I mean, as a potential Xbox One owner I didn't appreciate his comments either but that didn't mean I should wish him death. I think everyone just needs to take a step back and look at things from multiple perspectives because sometimes that helps much more that you'd think it would.

Posted:7 months ago

#34

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@Paul Jace

Orth didn't start the 'downward spiral', he was just the first one to clearly articulate/admit the existing shitty corporate attitude towards customers driving XB1 policy. However hard he'd been supping the koolaid it was still an incredibly stupid thing to do, predictably guaranteed to attract all the pent up rage Microsoft had earned.

It was probably what finally convinced Microsoft it was more than a few loud voices they could just ignore. Sad that it had to happen this way but MS really haven't been good at listening to customers without getting a good kicking first.

Posted:7 months ago

#35

Paul Jace Merchandiser

939 1,420 1.5
It was probably what finally convinced Microsoft it was more than a few loud voices they could just ignore.
Actually Paul what most likely finally convinced Microsoft was two incidents: 1) the reaction Sony received at their press conference when announcing there were no used game restrictions and always-online requirements for PS4 and 2) the various preorder numbers from retailers such as Amazon that had the PS4 outselling the XBO by as much as(if I remember correctly) 8 to 1. After those two things Microsoft knew they needed to seriously change their strategy. It's just too bad they didn't have enough forsight to start changing things as soon as the Adam Orth controversy initially started. Oh well, you live and you learn.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 22nd March 2014 1:18am

Posted:7 months ago

#36

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Finally, it's all very well saying "No-one is condoning their behaviour, but...", except the moment you say "but" that's exactly what you're doing. If you want to actually stop stuff like this happening, you have to condemn unequivocally.
But, that's basically saying tat two wrongs retroactively make the first right. Nobody is saying that the trolls are ever, in any circumstances, in the right, but whether they are right or wrong has no bearing on whether the person they troll is in the right. In this case, they were obviously in the wrong, but he was in the wrong too.

Also, "condemning them unequivocally" isn't going to change their behavior in the least, because the sort of trolls that would wish cancer on someone don't care about your condemnation, if anything that is their reward. It's like saying "Those players killed that awesome dragon I built! I'm going to throw gold coins at them until they feel bad about it!"

Really in most cases this is just an issue of two sides talking past each other. The trolls say something horrible, then someone says how horrible it is that the trolls said that, but the only people who are listening are people who already agree that the trolls said something horrible, and none of it makes the trolls any less likely to say something horrible at a later date.
Yes, sure, no one is going to do anything about it... but what if one person does? That's the ultimate fear. 99.999% of these idiots online are losers, and if they did try to do something they would probably run out of breath before they got to their door... but what if....
The people who pose an actual risk are completely different than the ones who troll. You could eliminate all the trolls through some magical thinking or whatever, but the really dangerous people, whichever ones exist, will still exist. That's a completely different kettle of fish.

Posted:7 months ago

#37

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
You can't separate the story of what he originally said from the debate about extreme responses. The two sadly now are linked. It is disingenuous to pretend his attitude is not in any way part of the problem that developed. Does that make the response acceptable? In no way whatsoever. It was vile and wrong what got thrown at him. But at the end of the day he was probably not the best person to hold this debate even though he had suffered uncalled for levels of abuse. He is someone who is starting from dodgy ground in the first place. Especially when he used the phrase deal with it. The tone of what he says sounds that yes he did receive an unacceptable level of vitriol for what he said but also he still does not accept that he treated people with contempt himself. If he had started off his talk saying I was stupid and insensitive with what I said and didn't properly understand the genuine frustration of a lot of people but that didn't warrant the levels of abuse I received after then I think we wouldn't be having this debate and he would have made an important contribution. As it stands he is still totally undermining himself while trying to raise an important and valid topic

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 22nd March 2014 11:23am

Posted:7 months ago

#38

Lewis Pulsipher Game Designer, Author, Teacher

32 42 1.3
I agree with Bonnie, I see some commenters here effectively condoning horrible behavior because the original comment was "wrong". It was certainly unwise, but "wrong" is a matter of opinion, not fact, in this case. That you disagree with someone does not, ultimately, justify the horrible behavior. But some commenters here clearly think that it "more-or-less" does.

Perhaps this is the ultimate reason why so many people do NOT want to be identified as "video gamers", even if they play the games.

Posted:7 months ago

#39

Derek Smart Software Developer/Engineer, 3000AD, Inc

29 1 0.0
@lewis

Exactly. When all is said and done, that's pretty much the long and short of it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Derek Smart on 22nd March 2014 12:09pm

Posted:7 months ago

#40

Billy Inlow Studying Business Management, Columbus State Community College

1 1 1.0
Anthony, depending on how generous one feels while reading that comment, one could interpret it so you're saying "buy what we give you, not what you want." You're missing a massive amount of what game design as a whole is; the customers are vital to making better games with their feedback, as long as it's constructed in a way that it helps the designers instead of hurting them. You're taking a few examples and saying "these were fine the way they were before those filthy consumers said anything."

One of the parts that confuses me is "But gamers feel the only thing game design should cater to - is them. This argument is completely flawed." While I understand that certain choices are made for the sake of the game, for the most part any game being made would be best served by choices made to assist the player's enjoyment of the game, Spec Ops: The Line being the best counter-example, were I using an absolute, since enjoyment is actually used as a tool for moral lessons. The worst part, however is the "The (sic) have no sense of respect, and it seems they start every argument with 'I paid for this product, I have a right to complain.'" You're taking the vocal minority and applying them to the entire consumer base. Even though I personally have no experience actually making games, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about when I'm saying you need to look for the useful complaints that can improve both the game being complained about and the future games you'll make instead of not bothering to separate the wheat from the chaff and just burning the field down as a whole.

To put the best point on it I can, you're essentially saying that people that paid full price for Ride to Hell: Retribution or Desert Gunner have no right to say anything bad about the game even though it's at best a broken, badly-made piece of crap and at worst an intentional insult to the entire industry as a whole.

To add an example from the time period between posting this and this edit, buying a copy of Skyrim gives me a voice when I say "there should be an icon to show air capacity while underwater" since there's no way to tell in the vanilla game how much time you can stay underwater before taking damage. I can assume that the reasoning behind there not being a UI element for it is immersion, mostly due to the rest of the interface being invisible when there's no reason for it to be up, but in terms of actual gameplay, that's information that the players can use regardless of how immersive it is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Billy Inlow on 22nd March 2014 11:57pm

Posted:7 months ago

#41

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
Talk of Adam Orth's attitude ignores the fact that if you actually read the exchange, it was blatantly obvious that he was tounge in cheek, and that it was an exchange between two friends winding each other up.

Sure, it wasn't the best move saying that kind of thing publicly, even as a joke, as you're always playing with fire making statements that could lead people to believe you're speaking for the company you work for, but that's not the point.

It doesn't matter what he said, or whether or not it came from a place of arrogance, that still doesn't justify the Internet hate machine. Especially considering that this has happened to developers that have done nothing more than nerf a weapon in a game.

Also I don't think it's as easy to shrug off as you say. 99% of people who make a death threat on the Internet won't go through with it, but there is that crazy 1% out there that will actually do it. (And this has happened in the past)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bryan Robertson on 22nd March 2014 6:59pm

Posted:7 months ago

#42

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Talk of Adam Orth's attitude ignores the fact that if you actually read the exchange, it was blatantly obvious that he was tounge in cheek, and that it was an exchange between two friends winding each other up.
Perhaps so, but it was still unwise. You can't have a private conversation in public. If I want to have a private conversation with a friend, I'll do so via email, or via PM. If I post anything in a public forum, or on my Facebook wall, or on Twitter, I have a reasonable expectation that anyone might see it, and I have to take that into consideration. This may have been a "talk between friends," but he made it on a public Twitter account tied to his own name.
It doesn't matter what he said, or whether or not it came from a place of arrogance, that still doesn't justify the Internet hate machine.
And again, NOBODY is justifying the more extreme reactions to what he said, that is a strawman argument that nobody should be bothering to make.

Posted:7 months ago

#43

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

461 172 0.4
It becomes immensely obvious that Adam Orth suffers from every bit a disconnect between his own lifestyle and that of the world as his #dealwithit post made out. Probably more.

Talk about first world problems gone mad. This guy is a great example of someone who has had such an easy life that a couple of weeks of being slightly unpopular with the public had driven him to try and start a business making an autobiographical game. He was a high ranking employee at MS that cost them possibly millions of units of sales and billions of dollars in revenue by representing the company to it's public in a way that showed contempt and a superiority complex, and he still thinks it's the internet's fault.

I actually think I dislike him more after reading this article. Cry me a river Adam.

Posted:7 months ago

#44

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

461 172 0.4
@Anthony Chan
The problem today is the gamer. Developers and publishers need to remember, your games are your work. Your console designs are your console designs. The only one who should have input as to the final product coming to market is the company who invested into it. NOT THE GAMER. I can list recent episodes where this concept is being flushed down the toilet - Bioware and the Mass Effect 3 ending, Diablo 3 Wilson vs Brevik (and pretty much everything else on the forum to this date), Microsoft and XBone, and Square-Enix and its first rendition of its FFXIV. The list can go on.
You are right, but so insanely wrong at the same time that I sincerely hope you don't run your own gaming business.

You are right, you should decide how your game goes. You'd better hope it was a well informed decision, but yes, ultimately make your game how you want it. Listening to what your gamers want might help if you want to... you know... sell any copies, but ultimately it's your product.

HOWEVER. You should never, under ANY circumstances communicate that to the customer. The customer is number one. If the customer has not handed over his money, or has the ability to take it back, acting as if he is any less than number one (within reason) will send him packing. Adam didn't just violate that rule, he doused it in petrol, sent it to a fireworks factory (twitter) and set it alight.

And he's still convinced he did the right thing.

In a market where many people emotionally invest into monopolies where there are no competitors, the argument 'don't buy it then' just doesn't work. Take the Mass Effect lovers out there. If Bioware don't do Mass Effect right, they will be mad at Bioware; they can't exactly get anyone else to fix the ending for them as it's Bioware's IP. Same with the Xbox, and it's attachment to Halo, GoW and so many other IPs that people genuinely love like relatives and are powerless to do anything about if MS mess up. It's the helplessness that makes these people mad, and as a site full of devs I can understand that when you see the theater you notice the smoke and mirrors but to them it's magic and the childhood dreams they have inside that you are destroying.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 22nd March 2014 11:32pm

Posted:7 months ago

#45

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
You admit that you've never experienced what Orth experienced and yet - as you've informed us over and over and over - you know exactly how he should have reacted anyway. Show us your credentials - either your PHD in psychology or some lengthy behavioral study you've conducted on this subject - or shut your trap. Until you've experienced what it's like to be the subject of distilled hate and vitriol at that level, you have no_goddamn_idea what you're talking about, and insisting otherwise just makes you look like a foolish buffoon braying the same uninformed ignorance all over the place.
I haven't experienced that level of attack, but I have experienced directed trolling in the past, and I don't need a PHD to know that whining about it doesn't help. It's no more difficult to ignore a thousand trolls than it is to ignore ten, ignoring them is ignoring them, and that's the only tactic available.

Posted:7 months ago

#46

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
There is a point though I think that is slightly true beneath the unsympathetic comments that he should man up. That is that sadly there is almost nothing that can be done to stop really nasty trolling. Yes you can report it and some maybe blocked. But more will just spring up. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning the behaviour nor am I saying people are just being pathetic if they complain about it. But the very sad fact of the matter is that there is nothing we can do to ultimately stop it. Which means long term we are going to have to learn to just ignore it. It's not right or fair but we can debate it until the cows come home but we can never ultimately stop the trolls

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 23rd March 2014 11:02pm

Posted:7 months ago

#47

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
You're reasoning ignores the fact that humans are emotional rather than logical beings and that that is an inescapable reality that has enormous real world effects. If you aren't trolling and actually believe the arguments you've written multiples times (and honestly i can't tell either way because they sound like they belong in a ACME cartoon) you're either incredibly obtuse, naive, or both, but either way, you're living in a fantasy land.

Humans are wired to be social and when it appears that society has turned on you, it can have catastrophic psychological consequences, regardless of whether or not Tim Ogul thinks it should. I'd say Orth handled it pretty well, many wouldn't have survived it.
If you get attacked by Internet trolls and the lesson you take from it is that "society" has turned against you, then that is where the problem lies. Trolls are never representative of "society," you can safely ignore what they have to say, and in fact choosing not to ignore them is the very worst thing you can do. They do not matter, and if you choose to make them matter then the problem is on your end as much as it is theirs. You are cooperating with them in your own self-destruction, because there's no way they can possibly hurt you without your own help.
Here's some advice, you seem to need it. If someone in your social sphere commits suicide due to online bullying, do yourself and them a favor and don't come 'round to explain to the relatives how stupid the victim was for taking it to heart.
Advice noted. It probably wouldn't help after the fact, but it might have helped them before the event to prevent the whole situation in the first place. At the very least, it's better advice than "wallow in it and moan about it."

Posted:7 months ago

#48

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Again, you're living in fantasy land. You're projecting your own logical thought process on the emotional state that comes from being attacked - a state which is anything but logical. We do not live in a utopian society in which every member has gone through extensive logic and emotional training and even if we did, there's still no guarantee we could eradicate illogical emotional responses. You're mistaking how you want it to be with how it is.
But the point is, this is the world we live in. Trolls gonna troll, that WILL happen, and that Is outside of the developer's control. All the developer can control is how he reacts to the trolling, and ignoring it is the only result that will do any good.
and telling an untrained emotional being, "hey buddy, just ignore the onslaught of threats and hate", and then expecting that to make any kind of difference is a bad foolish joke.
Maybe, but it's still the only potentially helpful thing anyone can bring to the situation. It's not like there's anything else one could say that would have a more positive impact. If "hey buddy, just ignore the onslaught of threats and hate", doesn't work, then nothing will.

You keep ranting as if I am in some way defending the trolls, or condoning their behavior, which I am not, any more than I would defend or condone a hurricane, but I am accepting that like a hurricane there isn't anything that can be done to stop them, so the only rational response is to mitigate the damage as best you can, and unlike a hurricane, the only damage trolls are capable of (for the most part) is the damage you choose to allow them to make. It's basically a hurricane that you can opt out of just by shutting the doors and closing the windows (which is not the recommended behavior for an actual hurricane, fyi).

Posted:7 months ago

#49

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
It's been fun Tim. You are extremely intelligent and i enjoy reading and learning from your posts wherever i see them. For the record i never once thought you were defending trolls, my focus in every reply to you has been entirely on what i would call (you may disagree) the 'victim' of the attack. We agree that you can't do anything about trolls, if you look at my first post in this thread you'll see me make that case. Anyway, it's been fun - taker easy dude.
Then I'm sorry, but I'm really not sure what point, if any, you've been attempting to make here. We agree that trolling cannot be stopped, we agree that the person they are engaging with is the "victim," I suppose the only place we do seem to disagree, as near as I can tell, is the degree of actual harm being done to them, verses self-inflicted harm. I don't believe someone needs to be stabbed to know what a stabbing is, and what a stabbing is not. The trolling attacks I've had may not have reached the same scale as his own, but most of the actual harm done to him was of his own doing (for example his firing was due to the poor PR example he set, and had nothing whatsoever to do with trolls).

I just do not give anyone any "credit" for "surviving" a troll attack because troll attacks have no potential for harm. It's like congratulating someone for surviving an "assault" from a bubble blower, only even less threatening, since those bubbles can really sting if they get in your eyes. If people choose to damage themselves as a result of a troll attack then that's their prerogative, but they can always simply choose not to.

Posted:7 months ago

#50

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
There's an old saying that goes: "peer pressure is one of the most powerful forces in the universe". Whether you agree with that or not (i happen to agree), something that you can't disagree with is that human beings are social creatures who get validation and a sense of belonging from their peers.
Sure, but trolls are not anyone's peers, except maybe other trolls, and they know better than to listen to each other. Now, if a bunch of industry professionals are calling you a piece of #### then yeah, maybe take that one to heart, but trolls gonna troll, they aren't expressing a point, even an opinion, they are throwing random feces, and it's not worth even considering, much less taking seriously. Someone who wishes you have cancer is not someone who is making an informed critique about the merits of your work.
Orth was not an accomplice in the attacks because he took emotional harm from them. He, like most people, is simply wired to receive that harm and receiving it was not a choice nor is it his fault.
Yes, it is. At the most basic level, it's his fault for engaging with it in any way. Once the hint of a troll assault begins, the first drops of rain, as it were, the healthiest response is just to disengage from the mediums they operate in. Do not read Twitter, or Facebook, or email, or any other avenues they use. The moment you start to get more mad than amused by it is the time to step away. They can't follow you.

Have someone else do it who won't be personally effected by the attacks. Let them filter out what information is actually reasonable and discard the rest. If you absolutely have to trawl through it yourself, keep in the front of your thoughts the knowledge that the material is without meaning, skim for a sign that a post might have any value to it, and maintain a blindspot for the rest. Trolls are lazy, so they give up after a few weeks, or even days of not being fed, at which point you can resume normal activities.

If you absolutely cannot tolerate even a single drop of troll venom, and can't find anyone to curate it for you, then worst case scenario you can just delete all your incoming correspondence over that period and hope none of it was too important. You know, that really should be a service, "concierge troll curating." If anyone wants to do that you can have that idea on me, I bet you could make a fortune.
You can disagree and that's cool, i really am dropping it here. If you do reply tho, please spare me the "where's your PHD in sociology" question. I don't have one. Like you and your "i know what it's like to be stabbed" argument, i know what it's like to feel the pain of being rejected. If you want to argue emotional pain is not real or that it can be ignored or whatever don't bother, it is and it can't.
Yeah, fair enough, I wasn't going to demand credentials, but I do find it amusing that you felt the right to demand credentials of me not once but twice, only to prophylactically refuse to offer credentials yourself. ;) For my part, I don't require expertise from anyone (unless they are attempting to make an evidence-based case for something), I just let their points speak for themselves.

Posted:7 months ago

#51

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

820 653 0.8
In the internet, the self entitlement and abuse generally goes unpunished and people is already used and aware of this. For some this works as a warning when they enter any community and for others is a white card to releasing their frustrations over others.

Now there is a big arguments of if this people should should me ignored or frontally attacked. I would say 50-50. What I do when I receive an abuse is a "report and ignore" procedure. Just like Bruce said; by being into the internet you will be the target of attacks sooner or later and those who enjoy it (yes, they do. Or that I believe; it's the only explanation for such energy and time put in trying to be an a**hole) can't be hurt in a bigger way that being expelled of they possibilities of doing so.

Posted:7 months ago

#52

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Now there is a big arguments of if this people should should me ignored or frontally attacked. I would say 50-50. What I do when I receive an abuse is a "report and ignore" procedure.
Well, it's fair to attack from the sides. If there are features available to block the troll, then definitely make use of them if you feel up to even coming into contact with their messages, but often those features either don't exist or wouldn't be effective. in either case though, you should never respond to them directly unless you actually enjoy doing so. If your goal in responding to them is to make them feel bad or stop their behavior, then just give up that pipe dream immediately because it would only work 1/1000 times, or that. Only engage them directly if your goal is to troll them right back for your own amusement.

Posted:7 months ago

#53

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
At the end of the day we have to learn to ignore it. It's unfair but that's just the way it is. It sadly can't be stopped. We can complain all day long that quite rightly these sort of trolls are vile and should not be allowed to say what they do but it won't change the fact that they can and are impossible to stop.

Posted:7 months ago

#54

Iain Stanford Experienced Software Engineer, Tinderstone

33 126 3.8
Other industries seem quite capable of interacting with their userbase without this sort of thing happening to the amount it does in the gaming sphere. This sort of thing has almost become a regular thing.

That might be more of a topic of discussion than one single instance.

Posted:7 months ago

#55

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
It does depend though on how fanatical your audience base is about your industry though doesn't it. Again I'm in no way condoning or dismissing the behaviour but any industry that has a large level of interest particularly from the general public will attract these sorts of people. Those that are niche and tend to only attract those who are experts in the given field will attract far less of the troll element.

Posted:7 months ago

#56

Edward Buffery Pre-production Manager

149 96 0.6
@Tim, with hindsight, I have no doubt whatsoever that Orth would likely have taken different steps to handle the growing abuse if he could wind back the clock, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh? I doubt he had any idea when the first comments started coming in how wide or how severe it would become and how each of his actions and reactions would shape the coming weeks. When you're reacting to something unfamiliar that's just beginning, you rarely have time to realise what the most rational long-term tactic would be. Even if he did understand the nature of trolling attacks and how to best deal with them psychologically, how confident are you that his wife, children, and friends all did. Even if I was capable of ignoring the direct effects myself, seeing people close to me become scared and anxious would be enough to affect me.

Also, while knowing how to deal with any kind of abuse does make it easier, that's only true up to a point. If a trained therapist lives in a safe neighbourhood but gets randomly beaten up when stepping outside one day, even if the attacker goes to jail, the victim recovers to perfect health, and has the perfect background to understand to get over it, there's no guarantee they won't experience anxiety attacks when stepping outside, have nightmares, develop symptoms of depression and more, even if they're not CHOOSING to be affected that way. It's one thing to say that you've experienced lesser examples of online abuse and knew how to deal with it, but you may be surprised at how differently you'd be affected if it goes past a line that you currently can't see because fortunately it's never been crossed.

You can say that you don't have to be stabbed to know what it feels like. I agree that it's not too difficult to imagine what the physical pain might feel like and how long it might take for the cuts to heal, but predicting what the psychological aftereffects would be is an entirely different and far more complex matter.

Posted:7 months ago

#57

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Other industries seem quite capable of interacting with their userbase without this sort of thing happening to the amount it does in the gaming sphere. This sort of thing has almost become a regular thing.
That's the price paid for the game community being more Internet savvy and naturally competitive than other markets. It's not that the people who work in the game industry are doing anything that they could be doing differently to prevent it.
I doubt he had any idea when the first comments started coming in how wide or how severe it would become and how each of his actions and reactions would shape the coming weeks. When you're reacting to something unfamiliar that's just beginning, you rarely have time to realise what the most rational long-term tactic would be.
Right, which is why it's helpful to get the advice out there, but it seems from this presentation that he still doesn't seem to be getting the point, and is still blaming the trolls as something that "needs to be sorted out." They are wrong, but also inevitable, so the only viable solutions have to come from how they are reacted to. My point has been that his presentation is a self-absorbed and unhelpful way to address the issue.
Even if I was capable of ignoring the direct effects myself, seeing people close to me become scared and anxious would be enough to affect me.
For the most part they shouldn't even encounter most of it, but what they do see, tell them to ignore it too.
Also, while knowing how to deal with any kind of abuse does make it easier, that's only true up to a point. If a trained therapist lives in a safe neighbourhood but gets randomly beaten up when stepping outside one day, . . .
Yeah, but again, that's getting beat up. That's an actual physical assault. Nobody got assaulted here, it was all just words. Ignore and move on, ignore and move on, ignore and move on, repeat as necessary.

Posted:7 months ago

#58

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

257 562 2.2
Not that I posted on this, but aren't there 5 comments missing that were there earlier?? Don't ask me what they were, I just noticed 64 comments earlier and now there are 59.....

OCD much??? Ye, probably.. :D

Posted:7 months ago

#59

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
I think I may have touched upon this before, in a different thread (maybe?)... Anyway, I can't help but think that examining bullying in both schools and the workplace - and bringing the issues learned from those environments into the games industry - would be beneficial to try and deal with both Trolls, and the wider issue of the lack of manners in the games industry. From the outside looking in, it seems there's quite a few similarities.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 25th March 2014 7:07am

Posted:7 months ago

#60

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
The problem with applying anti-bullying tactics to trolls is that anti-bullying typically involves the community standing up to the bullies, encircling the victims, and ostracizing the bullies for their bad behavior. Due to the nature of trolling, with its anonymity and the emotional disconnect between persona and trollsona, it's relatively impossible to successfully shame or ostracize trolls, so the tactics really don't apply.

Posted:7 months ago

#61

Allan Schumacher Quality Assurance Analyst, EA BioWare

1 0 0.0
Are they really ineffective? I'm not sure. have seen internet message boards effectively mitigate trolls simply by universally condemning then, coupled with ignoring them. Granted, the smaller the message board is, the easier this probably is to do.


As a follow up, you consistently reiterate "Don't let the words bother you? It's just words and words can't hurt you." (A dubious claim I am hesitant to believe despite parents everywhere trying to tell their children that that's the way it is). First I have to ask: is it possible that how someone else experiences life, and what they are vulnerable, is different than what Tim Ogul has to endure and Tim Ogul's coping mechanisms. Saying "don't let the words bother you" can be as effective as telling someone that suffers from an anxiety disorder to stop being so anxious (which often exasperates the problem by creating anxiety).

Second: Do you truly believe that words are incapable of hurting people? Because it's very difficult to to disassociate your position as being fairly typical victim blaming. If someone is sexually harassed verbally, you seem to be saying that it's not the harassers fault, but rather than the victim seems to need to just learn to deal with it better. I find this perspective problematic.


As for your deference to it being impossible to do anything about it, so best to do nothing at all, I do have some other problems with this perspective. If you check out places where people need to use their Facebook account to comment, it's pretty trivial to point out that anonymity isn't an issue. These people aren't anonymous. They are free from consequence. The same reason why someone will be more willing to cut someone off in a car, rather than while standing in a line in person. They can get away with it. Part of the reason why they can get away with it is because people figure "that's just the way it is" and do nothing about it.




I'd actually like to see some communities, maybe even starting with game developers, actually attempt to do something *at all* before suggesting hypothetical measures would be irrelevant based purely on assumption. You're effectively saying that Riot Games should do nothing about the toxic members of their community because it's pointless, despite Riot themselves pointing out that minimal moderation is very effective in the vast majority of cases to the point where Riot is investing more into this because most trolls that are silenced will still play their game, and those that are victims won't move on to something else because they can't be arsed to deal with the community. Sometimes it's as simply as making All Chat an opt-in thing (instead of Opt out), and simply having people (devs and fans) actually take some time to ensure that their hobby is maintained, rather than slinking to their own shadows of anonymity and leaving the vocal representation to those many of us would prefer are not.

It's a nihilistic viewpoint that empowers the people that you claim to not defend, based on a lack of empathy towards people that simply have different vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms than yourself. Which is in and of itself problematic, because it ensures your membership in the exclusive club of game content creator, while having other people perform actions which will literally reduce the competition you have to face as a content creator.


Lets start actually rewarding people for being positive members of a community, and ostracizing those that are not, before dismissing it out of hand? Because your solution of "it's just words, don't let it bother you" has been shown to have gaps in its coverage from long before video games were even a thing.

Posted:7 months ago

#62

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Are they really ineffective? I'm not sure. have seen internet message boards effectively mitigate trolls simply by universally condemning then, coupled with ignoring them. Granted, the smaller the message board is, the easier this probably is to do.
Message board trolling is typically "amateur" trolling, people who are generally nice but sometimes kind of jerks, since the communities do have a bit more meat to them and moderation tends to be easier. It's the more unregulated spheres like Twitter, Youtube, email, etc. where they real deviants come out.
First I have to ask: is it possible that how someone else experiences life, and what they are vulnerable, is different than what Tim Ogul has to endure and Tim Ogul's coping mechanisms.
I'd be tempted to say "no," just to break up the sanctimony a bit, but of course, people are different, but ignoring the trolls is still the only effective response. It may be more effective for some people than others, but there really is nothing else that would be more effective even in fringe cases.
Second: Do you truly believe that words are incapable of hurting people?
They can only hurt you as much as you give them power to do so. If someone I care about says something nasty then that would probably hurt, because I care what they think, but someone I don't know, who doesn't know me, I put limited value in anything they say. You're the one handing out the rocks to the mob, don't hand out big rocks to anyone you don't trust. Anyone you can't trust at all, don't give any rocks. One of the beauties of the Internet is that it's impossible for anyone to force their voice on you, if the quality of the voices you're getting does not suit you, you can disengage from them entirely.
If someone is sexually harassed verbally, you seem to be saying that it's not the harassers fault, but rather than the victim seems to need to just learn to deal with it better. I find this perspective problematic.
You, like some of the other people up thread, seem to be insisting on a mis-interpretation of my comments that I've cleared up numerous times already. I have never, and will never defend the trolls. Their actions are their own, and their own responsibility. They will do what they do, and there's nothing you or I can do about that. The only things we do have any control over is how WE choose to respond to it. Do WE choose to respond in the way that they would prefer, by flipping out, becoming agitated, chastising them, etc., or do WE choose to respond in a way that offers them nothing, by simply not engaging their behavior.

Reward them or not, that's the only choice WE have available to us.
I'm saying that if you have no capability to move the elephant, then it really doesn't matter whether you are pro, con, or neutral on the elephant issue, the elephant will just be an elephant no matter what you do. If the elephant happens to enjoy the sound of loud human voices, then n o matter how much you curse and shout at the elephant, all you're doing is making him happy, no matter how much you don't like the elephant's behavior. It's actually something that comes up with dog training. If a dog does something wrong, and you scream and shout about what a "bad dog" he is, in many cases this only makes him more likely to do it again, because to a dog, all they want is your attention, and they don't really distinguish between you calling them a good dog or a bad dog.

Posted:7 months ago

#63

Yvonne Neuland Studying Game Development, Full Sail University

32 55 1.7
"Do unto others as you would have done to you." -The Golden Rule

Posted:7 months ago

#64

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,182 972 0.8
"The reason that internet threats are terrifying is not the possibility of the realization of a violent act; it's that society has regressed to a point that this behavior and discourse is an acceptable and expected response to something someone doesn't like or agree with," he lamented.
I don't think its the case that society as regressed at all, it just hasn't learnt how to cope with a 'new type of society' which exists online and through social media, a fairly new phenomena.

Part of the learning and evolution process will include a realisation that it is part of the same society we live offline and not a separate one that has no rules or consequences.

Anonomity and crowd beaviour has always had an effect on the way people conduct themselves however, so there is a lot of crossover when studying this subject.

Posted:6 months ago

#65

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
Going on a bit of a tangent here but there are a lot of posts and points about how this is essentially an "internet problem"; how people are given anonymity or freedom to do whatever they want and suddenly they're obnoxious, evil little craps of people.

I agree with Bonnie. People are like that everywhere - whether it's on the internet or within their own lives. If you think otherwise then I should point you to those stories of people committing suicide because their community turned on them, people who pathologically damage property and consistently get away with it, etc, etc.

"Mob" rule exists anywhere there is the ability to form a mob. It can be a good thing (i.e. forcing social norms) and it can also be a bad thing (i.e. forcing social norms).

This was a horrible thing to happen to a person who was pretty horrible himself. If I may be so bold, I figure the reason he made such an off-hand and offensive comment is that he thought he was part of the mob... only to discover that he wasn't (or at least his mob wasn't as big as others' were). Everyone who acted this way was in the wrong - including him.

Posted:6 months ago

#66

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
I agree with Bonnie. People are like that everywhere - whether it's on the internet or within their own lives. If you think otherwise then I should point you to those stories of people committing suicide because their community turned on them, people who pathologically damage property and consistently get away with it, etc, etc.
There are terrible people in the real world too, but the Internet has it's own variations on the theme, with different people involved in each. The main distinction is that in a community, you A. tend to know the people involved directly, and B. it only draws from the local pool. In an Internet discussion, on the other hand, you are in many cases completely anonymous, and the pool consists of every human on the Internet, so someone posting something flame-baity in LA can attract a mob of hundreds of people, none of which live within a hundred miles of each other, and in which none of their bad behavior will ever reflect on their real lives.

You can start a lynch mob in real life, but in most cases it's a lot harder to manage.

Posted:6 months ago

#67

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