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The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

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The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:42 pm

could it be the gamers themselves? An interesting article about the levels of harassment developers are dealing with, and how it's starting to affect the industry.

http://www.polygon.com/2013/8/15/462225 ... ort-groups
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby tullock » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:20 am

Eh, I think there are bigger threats. There are articles on the rampant sexism in the game industry, the day one dlc that is included on the disk but has to be purchased, products shipping unfinished requiring large patches on launch day or just being straight up broken for weeks/months, AAA titles that are just a map pack add on to the last 7 games but sold at the full 60$, devs and publishers straight up lying to customers, the paying customer only punishment that is DRM.

The deterioration of the personality of the fan base is just one problem among many.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:18 pm

Well realistically I don't think there is any threat that would stop the industry from existing. That's an attention grab opener in the article, but not realistic.

The sexism is kind of included in this article (loosely). The problem that they are ultimately getting too is that designers and the like (including programmers, but they're actually less important IMO) are potentially shying away from and/or leaving the industry because of the harassment. It's more of a concern of having fewer good products on the market.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Teranoid » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:43 pm

Here's an idea.

Make a better product then.

People who unknowingly buy poorly coded games (what I like to affectionately call Bethesda syndrome) have every right to be upset with developers. This isn't me excusing the death threats and the like because that's absolutely over the line but some of that article is nothing more than developers trying to get sympathy for their shady business tactics and absolute laziness.

Tullock hit the nail on the head. AAA game companies are the biggest threat to themselves with their absolutely insane production costs offsetting their even more insane sales expectations and nickel and dime add-on content.

That snippet about Lucas didn't get a single fuck given from me. He buried his own franchise in the name of the almighty dollar and now its "Why would I make any more people hate them so much I'm not the bad guy here"
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:59 pm

I have no problem with them trying to monetize the game as much as possible. If the game becomes poor quality because of that, I'll stop playing or stop buying add ons depending on the model. That's really going to take care of itself though, just like every other product on the planet. If I get bad food at a restaurant, I may complain, I may not come back, but I don't get to track down the chef and threaten the chef's family.

This isn't, "I made a bad product, and I'm crying because people aren't buying it or are critical of it". This is dealing with the reality that design decisions on games, even if they are the correct decision, will anger a portion of the population if the result isn't favorable to them. We have seen no shortage of "Blizz hates me" posts here, and that's a drop in the bucket compared to the official forums. It seems the anger is escalating more and more, and it's to the point where it could start having an affect on the industry.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Teranoid » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:24 pm

Which I said I wasn't excusing the absolute batshit insane people who make death threats because they didn't like the end of Mass Effect 3. I'm not exactly the most constructive when it comes to giving feedback on things but I'm also not going "Fucking shaman nerfs someone needs to firebomb Greg Street's house".

The internet is a cesspool of idiocy that has become even more noticeable with the rise of social media and until something is done to make people be held accountable for that shit nothing is going to change and it will more than likely get worse.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Lieris » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:30 am

The industry as a whole is reaping what it has sown and unfortunately it's the developers, not the money men, who are receiving the backlash.

I think this is what happens when you make increasingly violent games aimed at young males and have these be mainstream. Activision in particular has made a killing selling COD to teenagers. I try to keep up with the major releases on PS3 and that section of my games shelf is dominated by games with a certificate 15 or 18 on the spine. I don't think violent games turns teenage boys into killers but I do think it makes some of them more aggressive and they might channel that aggression to express entitlement. Xbox Live is infamous for being a total cesspit as a gaming community but that's the audience Microsoft have cultivated; young boys/men brought up on a diet of Gears of War, Halo and COD.

The other reason I think is this obsession to turn everything into a franchise; Ubisoft have flat out said they won't consider making a new IP unless they can turn it into a franchise. People get invested in these franchises, spending a lot of time and money, discussing on forums, buying the merchandise and of course playing them. When these franchises take a turn for the worse as we saw with Mass Effect 3 (I have never played a ME game but I watched the Angry Joe ending critique video) then obviously people are going to get very upset. They've spent several years of their life building up the conclusion in their head only for their choices in the previous two games to be largely meaningless and to be treated to a damp squib ending. The marketing machine built them up then knocked them down and then wondered why so many were upset.

My solutions:

Less violent games, more female protagonists, embrace diversity instead of catering to just teenage boys or men in their 20s, better moderated online communities and stop trying to turn everything into a franchise.

Failing that I hope the "AAA", ridiculous $100m+ budget section of the gaming industry collapses and videogames can go back to be videogames, instead of being ultra linear amusement park ride murder simulators but that's only tangentally related to this topic! ;)
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:31 am

I agree with that, and I think it's particularly troublesome because it's been occurring long enough that we have a couple of "generations" now.

Lieris wrote:People get invested in these franchises, spending a lot of time and money, discussing on forums, buying the merchandise and of course playing them. When these franchises take a turn for the worse as we saw with Mass Effect 3 (I have never played a ME game but I watched the Angry Joe ending critique video) then obviously people are going to get very upset.


People almost form cults around these games, and I don't think it's fair to blame the industry for this. The personal investment becomes so high, that it's not even uncommon to start to see it negatively affecting their personal lives. I think that's going to require a cultural shift in order to change.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Lieris » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:42 am

Such behaviour is definitely beyond the pale but at the same time this was a monster of their (EA and Bioware) own making. Mass Effect was promised to be a choose your own adventure space opera, wherein your Shepherd can have a very different experience to somebody else's with many different endings promised at the end of the trilogy. The fanbase was clearly lied to. When you promise so much and deliver so little, of course there will be a backlash and the more extreme and nasty elements of this fanbase will manifest themselves. Publishers and devs need to stop hyping everything to the heavens for that preorder money (and while they are at it, stop that disgusting retailer exclusive DLC) and be honest with their customers.

Again just to be totally clear, I am not making excuses for such behaviour, I am just saying that the games industry must bare some of the responsibility for cultivating it. They've been quite happy to rake in the money by appealing to this narrow demographic, spending millions on well-orchestrated marketing campaigns (including getting the gaming "press" to always be "on message") and selling extremely violent games to children, it's up to them to re-evaluate their priorities and to be more moral in their approach to videogames development.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:28 pm

Lieris wrote:Such behaviour is definitely beyond the pale but at the same time this was a monster of their (EA and Bioware) own making. Mass Effect was promised to be a choose your own adventure space opera, wherein your Shepherd can have a very different experience to somebody else's with many different endings promised at the end of the trilogy. The fanbase was clearly lied to. When you promise so much and deliver so little, of course there will be a backlash and the more extreme and nasty elements of this fanbase will manifest themselves. Publishers and devs need to stop hyping everything to the heavens for that preorder money (and while they are at it, stop that disgusting retailer exclusive DLC) and be honest with their customers.
Yeah, but this backlash is unique. It's not exactly rare for a product to be overhyped. We've all seen bad sequels, read bad books in an anthology, and have purchased many an overhyped product. While we may be critical of them and give them bad reviews, the whole culture around games is just different and much deeper.

Truly, although I never played ME, I don't get the sense that it's a "bad" game. I mean the reviews rip into various features and the ending, but still rate it highly overall. It may not have lived up to expectations, but people still seemed to play it. Also, there's another very important distinction...This isn't just about bad or misrepresented games, in fact the article is dealing more with games where simple balance adjustments are causing the same sorts of behaviors.

I certainly believe that the industry does have some blame, especially with the gaming worlds they create and the affects of those worlds on their populace. When a game embraces qualities of abhorrent behavior outside of social norms, you'll get some of that with your player interaction. So to that end, I think they have some ability to help, but not all that much. There needs to be a cultural shift away from getting so emotionally attached to a fantasy world. There's just something about these game worlds that people attach too with amazing fervor.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fetzie » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:55 pm

Maybe they wouldn't feel the need to get so attached to a game world if it didn't cost them 60-80 dollars (which is quite a lot of money, especially for the 15-18 y.o. target demographic) to buy in. That would have been 20 weeks of pocket-money for me.

You spend half your annual "income" on something it had better be damned good.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby benebarba » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:06 pm

well, do we actually know if this *doesn't* happen to book, movie, etc. creators? Seems like the article chose its focus because of what they cared about, not necessarily because of the desire to discuss a more general trend.

I'm fairly certain I've heard of a number of bizarre community efforts aimed at George RR Martin, that weren't jokes, for example.

I also wonder how much of this is due to companies putting their developers out in front of the firing squad (and to some extent customers for essentially demanding that). I mean, I don't get the complaints about things I design straight from customers, nor am I (or even my boss or in some cases even higher-up folks) expected to... we got people for that (granted I work for a very large company). I just get the important stuff that I actually need to know. Developers =/= PR people.

On the topic of violence in media, that's a pretty deep conversation that I'd love to point one of my friends who actually does work in that area to... sufficed to say beware of multiple correlations. Angry/disgruntled teens/adults are hardly a rarity in any time or place. We now have 1) products arguably directed straight at them and 2) a medium in which it is easy for their voices to become distilled/dominate because of the rise of targeted social media related to those products. The Greater Internet F-wad Theory also comes into play.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:23 pm

Oh I'm sure authors/filmmakers get it somewhat too (the article talks about George Lucas for instance). A lot of authors have a website and forums and what not. Their wares will generally have reviews at their retailers sites (Amazon) too. I don't think that they are excluded, but I don't think they get quite the same type of following that some games do. Games, especially online games that receive content updates are just a constant stream of interactions with their players, whereas other media is really just going to be around release time. I'm sure that constant interaction probably adds to it, along with your last paragraph and the greater internet F-wad theory.

Yes, I think to a degree putting designers/developers out in front of the public adds to it. It certainly increases accessibility and makes threats seem that much more viable. That's one of those areas, particularly with the XXX-cons, that gaming companies tend to bring some of this on their teams. I've always kind of questioned the decisions to do that, but I'm also a pretty private person so I have my own issues there.

Developers =/= designers necessarily either, especially not the code monkeys. That can vary quite a bit from company to company, but overall devs don't really seem to be a good target for this stuff.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Dion » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:52 am

Fridmarr wrote:I agree with that, and I think it's particularly troublesome because it's been occurring long enough that we have a couple of "generations" now.
If you look past 7000 years, you notice human beings aren’t been really that pleasant with each other. Arthur Conan Doyle received fair amount of death threats when he killed Sherlock Holmes if I recall right. You can call it progress even! Instead of putting axe through your neighbor skull, we now have watered down death threats. And if they get to point where they burn games and along them the developers of said games, it could be called getting back to ones roots.

Oh and Lieris. Middle age called, it wants it critique of books back.
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Re: The Biggest Threat to Gaming...

Postby Darielle » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:19 am

It's a chicken-egg situation. Part of the backlash comes purely down to really poor handling (Xbox, Simcity) of the customers. Part of the problem has absolutely nothing to do with games and is a consequence of poor adaptation to where technology actually is (social media, etc.)
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