I was going to make this over in D&D but decided to put this in G&T since it is video game playing / player related, and it may help to reach more people.
News has broken this morning that Jen Hepler is quitting Bioware after receiving more shitheel internet-user abuse, ranging from general abusive comments to death threats against her children.
Article in full:
(Edit - I will note at this time that it turns out the Metro news source put a slant on the story; Hepler left Bioware to work on a book. However, the abusive / threatening shit was still a real thing happening, and this correction to her reasons for leaving doesn't suddenly make shitheel behavior on the internet OK - we now return you to our regularly scheduled thread)
The senior writer on Dragon Age II has decided to leave developer BioWare after ‘graphic threats’ were made to kill her children.
Jennifer Helper was working on sequel Dragon Age: Inquisition but is quitting BioWare this week to go freelance, in large part thanks to threats she and others of the team received in the wake of Dragon Age II’s release.
The game was unpopular with many hardcore fans and although Hepler was able to ignore most of the threats and abuse on the BioWare forums and Twitter she also received emailed death threats and threats against her children, as well as abusive phone calls.
Hepler revealed the threats in a wider article on the subject of fan abuse on website Polygon. The story is also reminiscent of an incident last month, when fans threatened to murder a Call Of Duty developer because of minute changes to some of Black Ops II’s weapons.
The catalyst for Hepler’s abuse was a six-year-old interview in which she admitted she didn’t enjoy combat in games. This was enough for fans to blame her for unpopular changes in Dragon Age II, describing her as a ‘cancer’ that was destroying BioWare.
‘I was shown a sample of the forum posts by EA security,’ says Hepler ‘And it included graphic threats to kill my children on their way out of school to show them that they should have been aborted at birth rather than have to have me as a mother.’
The situation highlights both more general problems with cyberbullying and the targeting of women via Twitter, both of which are likely to see more strict legal sanctions in the future.
Another part of the problem for Hepler though was BioWare’s sympathetic portrayal of homosexual characters, which has not only been the catalyst for some of the abuse but also much of the positive support from fans.
‘The outpouring of support I received — large amounts from female and gay fans — was incredibly heartening,’ said Hepler. ‘Without the negativity, I’m not sure that I would ever have heard from all of these people confirming that there is a need for characters that tackle touchy social issues, for characters who are untraditional or even unlikeable.’
I'm starting this thread not to discuss "oh people on the internet are being insane," because what is there to discuss
- anyone over 12 years of age knows that this kinda crap is not okay. No, I'm starting this to say that enough is enough and people need to start taking action. Start pressuring their peers into being better people. The reality is that as this kind of crap goes on, it fuels the flames of doing away with anonymity on the internet and we get more instances of people being arrested for their crappy comments. Hell, after reading this story my initial reaction was, "Fuck it, we don't deserve this good thing we have going." It infuriates the hell
out of me.
We all play games with random folks, not just people here on the forum. And plenty of PA forum community members are community members on other sites (be they big and notable or just small club house type affairs). It's simple really - if you see shitheel behavior, don't condone it. If you see or hear someone being a rageaholic and/or making threats, tell them why they're being ejected from your game or community and just do
it. Unfollow their accounts, urge others you know to do the same, because those jerkoffs will just shout into the void literally at nobody.
Community managers also need to crack down with use of their authority. It's time to discard that, "Speak pleasantly to any customer regardless of their behavior," crap. "ZOMG BLIZZ I WILL KILL YOU" should not be met with, "I'm sorry you feel that way." It should be met with, "You just made a threat. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out." Take away their toys
Never be silent. That doesn't evoke change.
Obviously this kind of ugly behavior goes on beyond the media that surrounds video games. People need to put effort in those places too if it is seen. Ignoring this crap and hoping it goes away is just going to let it fester.
So that's that. I'm out. Droppin' the mic.
Edit - An article was posting to Polygon yesterday about this topic and it's worth a read. Read it. No seriously read it.
Nobody likes me but that's okay. I'm used to it.