Jeff Kaplan’s Heartfelt Response To The Overwatch Community Highlights A Major Problem With Gaming

Video game developers are the heart and soul of this industry, putting in enormous amounts of time and effort into creating the games we love to play. Jeff Kaplan, Vice President of Blizzard has recently spoken about how difficult it can be, being in the public eye all the time and having to be very careful about what they say and do in order to avoid unwarranted threats and retribution. I highly recommend you read his message in its entirety and hope you take it on board.

This has led to me to think about video gaming as a whole, and while it does bring much joy to all of us who create games, create content about games or simply enjoy games, it can be a very negative and toxic environment at times. Kaplan stated in his earnest message that members of the Overwatch team are afraid of posting on forums, in case they accidentally say slightly the wrong thing that gets taken the wrong way by game fans. This then escalates into personal threats against members of development teams. This is a huge problem for the gaming industry in general. Now I know many people are, like myself, extremely passionate about their games. For me, I watch streams like the Saturday morning cartoons to find just that little tidbit of new info. But when this degenerates into personal attacks, we as a community are failing.

Imagine, for example, that every single thing, every single mistake you have ever made, either verbally or through some written medium was scrutinised and attacked. What if the one thing that slipped out through an accident became something that people fixated on and attacked for months to come. Fear is not what this industry should be about, not trying to placate a horde of irrationally angry gamers who are too old to be throwing tantrums and threatening others over pixellated content.

Jeff Kaplan has highlighted a very real problem in the gaming industry, which the anonymity of the internet has exacerbated. It should not be easy to forget that game developers and development teams are human, they make mistakes and they work incredibly hard to create the games we play.

But I understand the frustration of gaming, I understand having bad matches, bad servers or bad connections. I understand you simply not liking the way a game has gone. It is natural to get annoyed but there are simple ways to get rid of your anger. For one, you could stop playing for a while, find a new game, read a book, call your mum and tell her that you love her! Because taking out anger and frustration on the people who work so hard to make these games and do nothing but try and make a great community will not do anything but cause pain.

Imagine how many more threads and forum discussions (led by industry insiders and professionals) that there could be if everyone was open-minded and civil. But if toxicity and downright bullying keeps pervading our communities through this hate and meanness, the amount of direct conversations may fade, with developers being too afraid or fed up with the undeserved hate.

Simply put: IT’S A GAME. GET OVER IT.

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