PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

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rainbowcascade
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PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#1 Post by rainbowcascade » Thu May 15, 2014 6:16 pm

I've been reading a few articles on the relationship of audiences/critics and creative artists and of course, the most extreme negative reactions are the ones that get the most views.

See http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/02/ ... nsane.html
- this piece discusses the circumstances that led to Dong Nyugen taking down his game Flappy Bird, even though it was making tons of money.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2 ... els-fez-ii
Phil Fish quits the game industry for good due to his lifelong struggles with anonymous trolls.

The most interesting comment I find from that article is this one by Sam Brown:
"I remember once, long ago when I was starting my first videogames job, my then boss told me that "People work in videogames because they couldn't possibly work anywhere else," his meaning being that while everyone he employed was brilliant at their job, they pretty much all had major character flaws that made it impossible for them to work amongst civilised people without getting fired within the first month. (Yes, I've never been sure where that leaves me ;)"

http://penny-arcade.com/report/article/ ... try/signin
And this is Penny Arcade's follow up op ed after their interview with Dan Teasdale resulted in a lot of folks typing angry messages at Teasdale. I read the original interview article and Teasdale never came across as an arrogant asshole to me. I just read him as a guy with a strong opinion and a very targeted goal in his mind. Two factors that are important when you are starting your own company.

And see http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/vi ... Submission
Zoe Quinn's harassment simply because she released a game about a serious topic on Steam.

And finally, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ9YozVtUag PBS Game Show takes on the question on how do we deal with negative people who actively threaten the well being of game developers. Commenters suggested their opinions on PBS Game Show's other episode at 7:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw_SVsZ2v7Q

So my question is, if you are a fledgling or even veteran game developer, how do you avoid these PR disasters? Is it something one can even avoid in the first place? Of course there's the conventional wisdom of always being polite and don't feed the trolls but can you really follow that advice when the trolls actively tell other people who have no idea about you, really negative things that put you in a bad light? You gotta fight back somehow! And see Dan Teasdale, the poor guy just stated his own opinion and got attacked for it!

Yes, it is important to have thick skin and be able to tell apart helpful criticism from outright trolling but for some unfortunate creators, no matter how polite they act, or how good their game is, they get completely buried by trolls and end up leaving the games industry altogether.

Have any of you guys handled issues like this? And if so, how did it turn out for you guys?

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#2 Post by Asceai » Thu May 15, 2014 6:28 pm

Phil Fish mostly showed that he can dish it but he can't take it. That whole incident was so ridiculous I don't really feel bad for him nor do I think that it's indicative of any problem other than with Phil Fish's awful personality.

That said, I do find it pretty sad that you can never put anything out there without being attacked. However, it's important to have perspective and to understand that the people that do this kind of thing really are a minority of a minority. If you put good work out there the majority of the responses you'll receive will be positive, so focus on those. If you're selling stuff, focus on the sales figures. People say shit on the internet, but you need to be able to screen it out even when it's directed at you, so you can focus on legitimate criticisms and ignore the noise.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#3 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu May 15, 2014 6:38 pm

I'm not in the business myself, but I know a few people who are, and they've endured no shortage of abuse. What I've come to understand from them is that the best way to respond to misinformation spread by trolls is to counter with the truth---and only the truth. There's no need to get into shouting matches. Just let the trolls dig their own graves. Most of the time that's enough.

Of course, if anybody starts getting threats over the phone or something like that, then more must be done.

Enduring repeated abusive comments is definitely not a picnic.
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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#4 Post by Sailerius » Thu May 15, 2014 6:45 pm

I've gotten enough harassment/hate mail/death threats in the years since I've been making games to fill a novel with.
What I've come to understand from them is that the best way to respond to misinformation spread by trolls is to counter with the truth---and only the truth. There's no need to get into shouting matches. Just let the trolls dig their own graves. Most of the time that's enough.
In my experience, that will just make matters worse. If you respond to them in any way whatsoever, they will take the opportunity to attack you more and louder because they know you'll respond, which means that they know you read what they said. They don't care about the truth. If you correct them, they'll ignore you or find something different to attack you about.

Unfortunately, this is just the reality of being a game developer. You have to learn to deal with it. It takes a constitution of steel to withstand it, and if you don't think you can take it, I hate to say it but you should probably not make games, because it will happen.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#5 Post by rainbowcascade » Thu May 15, 2014 6:54 pm

Sailerius wrote:I've gotten enough harassment/hate mail/death threats in the years since I've been making games to fill a novel with.
What I've come to understand from them is that the best way to respond to misinformation spread by trolls is to counter with the truth---and only the truth. There's no need to get into shouting matches. Just let the trolls dig their own graves. Most of the time that's enough.
In my experience, that will just make matters worse. If you respond to them in any way whatsoever, they will take the opportunity to attack you more and louder because they know you'll respond, which means that they know you read what they said. They don't care about the truth. If you correct them, they'll ignore you or find something different to attack you about.

Unfortunately, this is just the reality of being a game developer. You have to learn to deal with it. It takes a constitution of steel to withstand it, and if you don't think you can take it, I hate to say it but you should probably not make games, because it will happen.
Jesus, it's so sad that there's no way for game devs to fight back. I feel like almost every indie developer has a inbox full of threatening hate mail. There ought to be some kind of mental health/sanity union for indie developers to support/take care of each other.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#6 Post by Cith » Thu May 15, 2014 7:04 pm

Sailerius wrote: In my experience, that will just make matters worse. If you respond to them in any way whatsoever, they will take the opportunity to attack you more and louder because they know you'll respond, which means that they know you read what they said. They don't care about the truth. If you correct them, they'll ignore you or find something different to attack you about.
Yep. Don't feed the trolls people.
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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#7 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu May 15, 2014 7:37 pm

Sailerius wrote:In my experience, that will just make matters worse. If you respond to them in any way whatsoever, they will take the opportunity to attack you more and louder because they know you'll respond, which means that they know you read what they said. They don't care about the truth. If you correct them, they'll ignore you or find something different to attack you about.
Perhaps, but even if responding once won't do anything to stop the trolls, it will at least offer anybody else reading a chance to absorb the correct information. That's all I was suggesting. There's no need to even address the trolls.
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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#8 Post by Asceai » Thu May 15, 2014 7:45 pm

Sometimes if there's a common criticism, it can be helpful to respond to it publicly. If it's just haters hating, nevermind.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#9 Post by Sailerius » Thu May 15, 2014 7:58 pm

Mad Harlequin wrote:
Sailerius wrote:In my experience, that will just make matters worse. If you respond to them in any way whatsoever, they will take the opportunity to attack you more and louder because they know you'll respond, which means that they know you read what they said. They don't care about the truth. If you correct them, they'll ignore you or find something different to attack you about.
Perhaps, but even if responding once won't do anything to stop the trolls, it will at least offer anybody else reading a chance to absorb the correct information. That's all I was suggesting. There's no need to even address the trolls.
No one ever reads troll comments but trolls, so it's not helping anyone to reply to them.
Sometimes if there's a common criticism, it can be helpful to respond to it publicly. If it's just haters hating, nevermind.
It's not so cut-and-dry oftentimes. Trolls like to pretend to be offering legitimate criticism in order to disguise threats or personal attacks or to get under your skin. Oftentimes, said trolls haven't even played your work.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#10 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu May 15, 2014 8:09 pm

Sailerius wrote:No one ever reads troll comments but trolls, so it's not helping anyone to reply to them.
Yes . . . I suppose you're right. I don't have any experience in this area, so I guess I'm just saying what I would try to do in this kind of situation. I don't care about trolls. I just feel that I'd want to say something to counter misrepresentation of my product and then let the issue go.
It's not so cut-and-dry oftentimes. Trolls like to pretend to be offering legitimate criticism in order to disguise threats or personal attacks or to get under your skin. Oftentimes, said trolls haven't even played your work.
This is a sad truth. In reading game threads and hearing stories, I've learned just how merciless the trolls can get.
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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#11 Post by fleet » Thu May 15, 2014 8:29 pm

Report trolls to site administrators, but do not respond directly or indirectly to them.
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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#12 Post by Ryue » Fri May 16, 2014 2:29 am

I have seen cases where that is not oossible as the troll is the admin,....
Happened mostly in browser games but iam sure it can also happen
For game developement (so as in what is described in the other thread where a company owner trolls on his personal blog.....he probably owns the server that blog is on or has enough money behind him so that informing the admins doesnt work)

Best way is always to ignore trolls completely and if they go too far (threats you hsve to take seriously,....). To tslk with your lawyer and/or the police

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#13 Post by SundownKid » Fri May 16, 2014 4:45 am

I don't think Dan Teasdale is wrong, it's just his opinion. It doesn't seem that controversial to me, I mean he's not taking fantasy games off the market.

I think it's a little ridiculous, however, to claim that "you have to be an asshole" or "you have to be socially maladapted" to want to make games. Sure, uncompromising people might make better games, but this speaks to the fact that game development is still out of reach to all but the most slavishly dedicated creators. It's not a good thing, it's something that should be changed.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#14 Post by Asceai » Fri May 16, 2014 5:38 am

SundownKid wrote:I don't think Dan Teasdale is wrong, it's just his opinion. It doesn't seem that controversial to me, I mean he's not taking fantasy games off the market.
My view is that tone and nuance are important, especially during criticism, and that defenses of creators can easily be extended to their critics. Even if they're anonymous trolls. I don't think it's a bad thing that people love media enough to want to defend it from those who are sharply - even rudely - critical of it. It's not something I would do myself, but I do think that people who like to 'tell it as it is' open themselves up to attacks of the same nature. And that's fine-- but then every now and then, you get a Phil Fish, who despite being a great aficionado of rock slinging, happens to reside in a glass domicile.

But I absolutely can't abide by personal attacks on people who aren't assholes. If you don't join in the bomb throwing, you shouldn't be forcibly inducted into it.
SundownKid wrote:Sure, uncompromising people might make better games, but this speaks to the fact that game development is still out of reach to all but the most slavishly dedicated creators. It's not a good thing, it's something that should be changed.
I'm not sure this is a bad thing. You need dedication in every other field to be successful. I mean, if the argument is that we need something for game design that is what scribbling unskillfully in an art pad is to graphic design, we already have that- there's GCSs that have lowered the barriers to entry significantly, which is why a lot of horrid trash thrown together with Unity has been appearing lately.

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Re: PR nightmare: When indie devs are attacked

#15 Post by Sailerius » Fri May 16, 2014 9:45 am

SundownKid wrote:I think it's a little ridiculous, however, to claim that "you have to be an asshole" or "you have to be socially maladapted" to want to make games. Sure, uncompromising people might make better games, but this speaks to the fact that game development is still out of reach to all but the most slavishly dedicated creators. It's not a good thing, it's something that should be changed.
How do you suggest it be changed? It's not about uncompromising people making better games, it's about having to deal with a volume of personal attacks every single day that could drive a person to suicide. It is the unfortunate reality of making games and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, especially not someone with a very thick skin. To my knowledge, no one has actually committed suicide over it yet, but I know many developers who have talked about considering it after the attacks they received.

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