IGDA may establish harassment support group

Developer organization considering assistance to creators who receive threats, hate from players

With the advent of social media, game developers are more accessible to gamers than ever before. And while that connection allows for things like crowdfunding campaigns and open communication, it also exposes creators to more negativity than ever before. Speaking with Polygon for a feature on the trend, International Game Developers Association executive director Kate Edwards said the group is looking into establishing a support group specifically to assist creators targeted for online harassment.

"It's gotten onto our radar," Edwards told the site. "We're getting to a point where we're thinking, 'Yeah, it's becoming something we're going to need to talk about. It might be time to consider doing a more explicit support group or mechanism to help people who are dealing with this sort of thing."

Edwards fears the prevalence of such harassment from players will have longer-term impacts on the industry, driving those who experience it away from the profession, and discouraging others from ever getting into making games in the first place. Edwards pointed to Star Wars creator George Lucas, who stepped into semi-retirement recently, asking why he would ever make something again when everything he does now precipitates such hatred from people.

"If someone as successful as George Lucas, someone who has been arguably both creatively and financially successful, is basically hanging it up because he's tired of hearing the negative feedback, that's a pretty serious thing," Edwards said. "He is such a prominent person and to have him so publicly talk about that particular issue, it kind of resonates with a lot of people."

The game industry has already lost some creative talent due in part to such hostility. Fez developer Phil Fish recently cancelled the sequel to that game and walked away from the industry entirely, saying, "I'm getting out of games because I choose not to put up with this abuse anymore." Polygon also reports that BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk acknowledged fan negativity over the ending of Mass Effect 3 played a part in his decision to leave the industry last year.

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Latest comments (14)

I think its a good idea. Haters hate, we all deal with it, but often times its nice to hear your not alone, its not just you, and your not the only one dealing with it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 16th August 2013 12:59am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
I don't deal with it so well actually. I never take it personally as hate on other peoples stories annoys me as much as it does when it's on mine. But the morass of casual negativity and "clever" comments just wears you down after a while.

You can actually die from a thousand papercuts and I would happily see use comment fields removed from just about everywhere. This is the only place on the whole interenet that I feel I can get a sane discussion even with someone who disagrees with me.

And now I've laid that one up for the dunk...
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Kayleigh McDougall Studying BA(Hons) Game Design and Production Management, University of Abertay Dundee4 years ago
As someone trying to get into the industry the news of so many people leaving due to the hate that's coming out of fans does make me wary of where I end up, and if this is the right choice for those of us who may not have such a thick skin.

I agree with Todd on this subject of this being a good idea.
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Show all comments (14)
Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
This is a good idea and probably a bit overdue. Theres nothing wrong with constructive criticism or even having people completely dislike your work as long as they express that dislike in a respectable/civil manner. But there is no reason for outright harrassment or threats. If this group does get established I may look into joining their ranks.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
I'd LOVE to see more moderation of comments on some sites so the crap and threats don't get posted at all. If a dick user stops seeing his or her posts show up, what can they do? Rant about not having their threat read and responded to or pack up their ball and move elsewhere because they're not getting the attention and soapbox time they so desire.

It's not "censorship" if you're protecting your own sanity so you can work comfortably without idiot distractions and people who you don't know or care for wishing you all sorts of ill will. Now, I don't mean ALL negative comments getting clipped, as that's a bit dumb. Constructive criticism, ACTUAL problems with a product (sorry, but "I didn't like the ending, you suck!" isn't constructive at all) or suggestions for legitimate complaints that don't degenerate into someone deliberately going out of their way to make someone miserable just so they get their internet jollies for the day or whatever - those are fine and should get a response.

Anything else gets trashed and if those people who normally get away with it start wondering why they aren't heard, they'll figure it out and perhaps find something else to do (hopefully)...
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Oh god greg, heaven. For today I'm going to spend it imagining that this might actually happen.
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This is where our community guys really earn their money! Indies just need to step back, and stop directly interacting with the public.
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design4 years ago
Really? All indie devs stop communicating with their fan base or promote themselves in any way?

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David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
Maybe the IGDA should instead establish a group to research why unlike in the past, a specific demographic segment of the audience is lashing out in this way?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
I didn't say STOP communicating at all - just don't respond to and yes, ignore/block/have someone else read and delete obvious hatred that has nothing at all to do with being a fan or being in any way constructive (positive or negative) to the game making process. Who needs to sit around reading "go die!" or "I'll kill your kids" any day of the week (and over an entertainment product, at that?) No one I know, that's for sure...

Train the bad behavior out of people (which CAN be done over enough time) and eventually, that niche of stupidity hes less and less clout and finds someone else to taunt until they leave their jobs or whatever... or they just eat themselves because they have no one else that will give them the time of day.

I've cut people off in my personal life who've been complete assholes and guess what, i don't miss them at all, they've stopped bugging me and that's that. What they talk about in private I don't care about because it's out of my immediate environment and what they say means nothing at all at the end of the day because I've got better things to do than keel over with some burst blood vessels because I read a comment that got me that irate.

CTRL, IGN(ore), DEL works when applied correctly...
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Michael Carter Jr Studying Business Administration, Ivy Tech Community College4 years ago
I support this idea, and I am obviously against haters who just want to be disruptive, however I don't at all agree with using "George Lucas" or "Greg Zeschuk" as examples, as both of these individuals did basically sucker punch their dedicated fan-base and tell them, "We don't give a damn about you, we will do whatever we want with our creations". and while technically that is their right, turning your back on the dedicated fans who put you in the position you are and screwing them over, is going to get you very angry negative response, and both of these men should have expected such a backlash. especially George Lucas, considering how long his franchise has been around. So while I believe in support for those who receive malicious hate messages and threats, I also say Don't purposely antagonize your 'bread and butter' and then complain when they don't sit back and accept it.
And yes I am a huge fan of the Star Wars series, and the Mass Effect series, and I was seriously annoyed and pissed off with everyone connected to both of these franchises when they slapped me in the face and said, "you must accept what we give you and you must like it. Even though it is utter crap." and yes I did complain about it online, I of course never bothered with threats or abusive language, as I prefer to hope that my anger and outrage is actually read and understood by those who may care. Obviously people like George and Greg don't care about what us fans think or feel and decide to be like the spoiled brats on the playground and grab their toys and run home complaining we don't like them anymore. Personally I say, Good Bye and please don't come back. I would rather support someone who stays true to their creations, but also who accepts that fans don't want their worlds turned upside down for pointless reasons.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Michael Carter Jr on 17th August 2013 4:37am

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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 4 years ago
IGDA needs to become a guild.

Otherwise, it's just a useless organization that offers "advice" which practically nobody follows.

If the "I" means International, the organization shouldn't be operating with the particularly American hatred about unions. To this I might add that Ronald Reagan claimed that serving as the President of the Screen Actor's Guild - which he was - was what taught him politics.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 17th August 2013 5:08pm

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David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

I think a big part of the problem is studios and publishers confuse the need to engage the audience for marketing and brand loyalty purposes with the need development teams have to access constructive feedback. And this is largely based on the myth that the people who dominate on-line discussions are the most knowledgeable or skilled players in the audience. It should be painfully obvious to everyone at this point this is not the case.

So to save what's left of their sanity, its probably time for developers to stop attempting to separate the wheat from the chaff in on-line free for all's. Direct communication between the people who make the games and people who play them should become by invitation only. The best way to accomplish this would be for developers to start using the data all studios and services now routinely collect to screen for players who are ideally suited for providing constructive and useful feedback. After they've been identified, they can be invited to participate in non-hostile, non-toxic, non-anonymous discussions with developers which are closed to the general public. And even if the trolls learn about the discussions, they'll avoid them like the plague if verification of your name, address, age, etc... are prerequisites for entry.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
This is a necessity.

We need a support group so developers can do their jobs, because their fans - customers - have become *that* abusive.

Holy shit. Where the hell have we gone.
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