Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support Diversity

September 1, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

An open letter signed by a number of game developers is asking the gaming community at large to respect everyone who plays, criticizes, and makes games. The thrust of the letter is that people should respect each other even when they disagree, and should never tolerate harassment or threats.

The letter is signed by a number of game developers working for such companies as BioWare, Bungie, Boss Key, Google, Sports Interactive, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Oculus VR, Ubisoft, Spry Fox, Vlambeer, EA, Kickstarter, Humble Bundle, and many more.

The goal of the open letter is to stop harassment and threats and to highlight what is good about the gaming community:

"It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish," the letter states.

It also calls on those in the community to fight back against those who are engaging in campaigns of terror:

"If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites," the letter continues.

"If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in."

You can read the letter and see who signed it already here.


Comments

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

I doubt the trolls will care, so the gesture is largely symbolic. Which is fine. The more cynical may argue that it's a token gesture to earn positive coverage in the wake of reports of work place harassment and discrimination.

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

"...asking the gaming community at large to respect everyone who plays, criticizes, and makes games. The thrust of the letter is that people should respect each other even when they disagree, and should never tolerate harassment or threats."

The gaming community at large already does this. People who threaten violence or rape are shunned. For every one person making a comment or tweeting for such things there's a whole community of people responding to their crap. The only ones who don't shun this behaviour are those who conduct said behaviour, yet despite us they continue and seem to get all this media attention linking their actions to the label of 'gamer' instead of treating their behaviour for what it is and them for who they are. It's like writing an open letter to Catholics to respect children because some priests rape them, while I would tend to believe most Catholics already respect children and shun rapist priests.

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

I am not sure I agree.

What I generally see is while the people who threaten rape and violence are pointed to as 'we are not them', a large number of gamers use the same rhetoric and justifications.  The racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, are all supported, there is a culture where bashing and attacking is not only ok but the right thing to do and is only called out when it goes 'too far'.

It reminds me a bit too much of what I saw in the PUA (or even worse, Gorean) communities, where technically sexual assault was a thing you should not do, but within the community a lot of the supportive logic of the group set up an ethical framework where fewer and fewer things counted as assault.   They overcame their moral issues not by being nicer to people, but by moving the goalpost of what was 'too far' then established a pattern of victim blaming.. using their framework to explain why the victim had it coming in some way and sure the bad actors might have gone too far but it was still their fault.

Which is what I see in the game industry too.  Sure threats of violence are 'bad', but much of the community sets pretty high bars for what counts as a 'threat of violence' with many forms simply being dismissed as 'well that is the internet' then pushing back with 'well of course they are pissing people off, they did XYZ thing that upset gamers.  They should not have asked for equality'.

So yeah, I do not buy that the gaming community "at large" is ok, I would more say that the tacit approval the community has built for itself just minimizes and victim blames the behavior away.

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

I would agree with this but the same companies here that's asking for people to be nice are the ones that verbally attack it's user base. It's almost one-sided and these companies get away with it because they often push a political agenda which causes the gaming press to overlook a developers attacks on its user base.

Bioware's Stanley Woo, Priestly, and many others for years belittled, attacked and went as far as once banning someone from playing an offline game and then defended it (Until the real media got ahold of it and the gaming press was forced to report on it). When I read a gaming news report often about a gaming company doing something it shouldn't I often say to myself, "didn't Bioware do this same thing but the press reported that the customers were in the wrong or said nothing at all?"

If developers do not have the social skills to handle dealing with customers then perhaps developers should not be posting on forums representing their companies? Customer Service is not an easy job. It will give you grey hairs quick, try it as a part-time job or as an experiment. (I once knew a mensa member with a federal grant to study fellow workers at call centers)

If you had someone scream at you and call you every offensive names in the book in person you'd most likely snap or over react or think something was wrong with that person. Imagine dealing with that 8 hours or more a day and not being able to respond in a negative way or you lose your job.

Bioware allows it's customer service to be run by people who do not know how to talk to people or better yet, respond.

One of the former companies I worked for we got an analyst to come work and check out our department. We worked for a Private Equity but in the company we did a lot of things to shake up the market in our area. He was a cool guy gamer like myself he noticed me trading on my lunch break and we hit it off.

Problem was for those not on his level he could not tolerate nor did he know how to talk to them. For example, he wanted call center reps who do Collections which is a high turn over gig as it is and when they put in the notes he wanted them to use code which they didn't get at all. His response to one of the guys who asked a simple questioned turned into a boss belittling his subordinates asking if he was stupid.

At this point I watched as this teen Korean belittle this 200 pound black male and I tried to put out the fire. As a company you should not put someone in a role that opens your company up to possible lawsuits or bad press.

If you are better doing equations in a closed room that should be your place and to be honest that's what he was hired for but was put in a role that he should not have been in.

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

When do we reach the point where we're beating a dead horse, but the horse was zombied and can't feel any pain anyway? Cause I feel like we've gotten there.. The people that listen listen, the people that don't don't... Thoughts?

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

Sorry, what? I wasn't listening. :p

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

It's never not worth doing the right thing or simply trying to make the world a better place.

People are less likely to mature if you give up on them.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” - Aristotle

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

Perhaps it is the cynicism in me, but I find it difficult to believe the community can mature when I can't go a week (or a day, for that matter) without being pelted with racial slurs in online games; and that is the absolute tip of the proverbial iceberg.

----
Papa Midnight

Re: Game Developers Call on Gaming Community to Support ...

The people making those slurs might not change, but enough pressure on game companies might lead to better filtering and/or banning tools so you won't have to put up with them. This could even lead to people rethinking their behavior if they find out that they've been banned for the use of a slur in voice chat.

Though of course, that means that we might have to shift our focus from trying to influence gamers to trying to influence companies, which has its own share of difficulties. In the end though, they tend to respect the value of money, and if enough people tell them, "I'm not going to buy Big New Multiplayer Game unless you do something better about harassment in matches," there's a good chance they'll listen.

So hey, if that's the case, find an address at the company that seems appropriate and tell them that.

 
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