Last time I checked, video games were a pastime, something to enjoy and do for fun. More and more I’m seeing people flipping out online and venting over different problems which, to a point, is okay. I understand the need to vent. I do it quite a bit on my twitter and tumblr, but there are ways that are ok to do it, constructive ways, ways that won’t land you in jail but still get your voice heard. The way to do that is to not resort to death threats over a freaking game.
In the last year I’ve seen the gaming community, not everyone mind you, but a growing vocal part of it, start getting more involved in how they want their games to come to them, to play, and letting the companies know how they like to be entertained. Within that vocal part of the community is a rather sick set of individuals that are taking things way too far and in my opinion need to seek professional help. If you find yourself on a forum, on your blog, on your Twitter, and you’re responding to some news about a game and in your response you start threatening, or in some cases promising violence, harm, or death on another human being over something that’s a hobby and a way to spend your free time, you need to take a step back, delete whatever you’re typing, chill the fuck out, and call a professional counselor, therapist, or talk to someone you trust, because quite frankly, you have a problem.
The internet isn’t as anonymous as it used to be. It’s time parents and friends start teaching people using computers and phones to get online that there are other people on the receiving end of your grief. That death threat is going to a real, flesh and blood, human being. Would you walk up to someone on the street and threaten to kill them because their game is going exclusive or someone is making a documentary on gaming habits? I seriously hope not or we as a species are even more screwed than I think.
I’m part of that somewhat silent majority that’s not really content with how things are going. A few years ago I got a bit more involved when I started working for Diehard GameFAN and I’ve tried to keep that up as I think it’s good for me to be a bit more social, even if it’s been mostly online. I’ve been on the receiving end of threats and violence and people’s unwarranted hatred online and off. It’s not fun. And I’m more or less writing this to let you vocal people who are taking things way too far, that I’m not going to take it anymore. I’m not going to sit by while someone is threatened over stupidity. If you’re acting like an idiot I’m not going to ignore it anymore, I’m going to call you on it. I’m not the only one.
The internet and gaming community has had unprecedented growth and there are growing pains. It’s time to get over that and realize that while it’s great you have a voice, you have to be responsible with it. We’re tired of listening to you blather on about how terrible your life is because there’s a problem with your game. Yes, it’s a sad thing to have a gaming issue, but there are hundreds of thousands of people out there with bigger issues. Grief it with the company, let people know online. If it gets fixed, great. Let us know. We’ll spread the word. If it doesn’t, let us know that too. Word will still spread. Then follow up by voting with your wallet. You see, we have this great window now that we didn’t used to have before. Developers are accessible online. They see what we’re putting up there faster than ever before and we can interact with them everyday if they have time. It’s an amazing gift. And if you’re out there, threatening someone over this, not only are you ruining a good thing for everyone else, but you are terrorizing and attacking another human being and that’s not acceptable. There are ways to really go about letting them know you’re not happy, and it has to do with their profits.
So let’s talk examples of the right way to do this. I haven’t been into the Resident Evil games in awhile. The last one I bought and enjoyed was Code Veronica for the PS2. I didn’t have a Gamecube at the time, but when the revamps of all the other games hit and a prequel and they were exclusive to that system, I was mildly annoyed. We didn’t have the social media outlets we have today, but there were websites I could have vented to. Hell, when I got a GameCube I still didn’t buy them because I wasn’t going to support that decision to make that game series exclusive to a system I wasn’t fond of. I only bought Resident Evil 4 when it came over to the PS2 long after the GC version and even then I’d lost any real love for the series. My tastes had moved on, matured, whatever you want to call it. It just wasn’t the kind of horror or shooter title I wanted to play anymore. In the end I used the only voice I really had with the company, my wallet.
When my wife was unhappy with the way things were going in her favorite MMO, she posted on the forums, she let the devs know she was upset, never threatening, just a few thoughts on what she thought was a big issue as the changes they were making weren’t improving the game, but making it more like a job at least in her eyes, but she wasn’t the only one. After a month of being ignored, she decided to take it to another level. She quit playing, and she unsubbed. This MMO had an exit questionnaire asking why she was dropping her subscription, and she laid it all out in there too, taking the time to voice her concerns. She was not alone. Eight months later and we hear about a new expansion coming out for the game, so we figure we’ll give it a try again. She figured out they’d tweaked it a bit and made the game fun again, making the mechanics work for the player instead of having the player work for the mechanics. Not only did she resub, but we bought the expansion and we’re back to playing again.
I’ll admit I wasn’t happy with the original ending to Mass Effect 3. Hell, I’m still not thrilled with it for a variety of reasons, but that’s my personal and vocal opinion. I voiced it. I criticized it, but I said it without going overboard, threatening the developers, ripping into their PR people, so on. I made a clear concise post on their forums, talked about it in twitter a few times, had some discussions on the podcast, and mentioned it in my review, especially since that is something they just nailed you with. They took it to heart. They didn’t change it, but they did add to it, trying to make it feel more in line with what we’d gotten in that game and across the others. It’s better than what we had, but it was the right way to go about letting them know we weren’t happy.
So I’m seeing all these news reports of pissed off Bayonetta fans. The game originally came out on the PS3 and the 360. There was no Wii version. So I can understand people being upset about the sequel being exclusive to the Wii U, a follow-up to a system that it didn’t even release on originally. If you’re upset, you have a right to be, but without Nintendo you wouldn’t be getting a sequel at all. You have a right to voice your opinion. What you don’t have a right to do is run around on the net threatening to kill or harm the developers for the game being exclusive to the new system from Nintendo. First, there’s the economics of it. Bayonetta sold halfway decently, but not enough to really warrant a sequel, at least in Sega’s eyes. Nintendo has thought differently and thinks the franchise would do well on their new system. If you’re going to be pissed, be pissed for the right reasons and at the right people. Or maybe you should have convinced more of your friends to buy the first game when it came out before so it had better sales and you’d be getting a sequel on the console you want. If you’re not getting a Wii U and wanted this game on another system, let them know, but for the love of the great spaghetti monster, don’t go out and buy a Wii U and this game if that’s your stance. Going after the developers and threatening them, however, is not the way to do it. It’s appalling and disturbing behavior and none of us should be putting up with it.
The long and short of it is this, the silent majority are tired of it. We’re not going to sit by and let you drag us down with your rage. You wanna rage? Fine. We can nerd rage with the best of them. You take it too far and we’ll have words back for you. We jump all over people for typos and incorrect facts – threats of violence and death need to be added to the list. You really want your voice to be heard, don’t give up anything from your wallet along with your opinion and well voiced reasons for doing it. There’s no reason for this to have gone on as long or as far as it has, and it needs to stop right now. The average age for gamers, according to the ESA, is 30. It’s time to start acting like it, boys and girls. Treat others like you want to be treated. We’re tired of it, and we’re watching.