The internet has been a blessing and a curse when it comes to our human existence. From one perspective, it has allowed people to connecting a way that wasn’t previously possible. But the other side can counter with the viewpoint that it has allowed the ugliness of humanity to have an even greater reach as people can hide behind avatars and usernames while displaying the vilest of behaviors. No doubt that these issues also affect the gaming community. And with the internet allowing gamers to have a bigger public voice than ever before, has that led to more entitlement?
I am a United States citizen but I’ve always thought the phrase—–“The customer is always right”—–was a very dangerous statement. This was even before there was such a thing as logging into America Online and hearing the once-popular phrase, “You’ve got mail.” There have been far too many occasions where I have seen customers, in the spirit of believing that everything they do is permissible, mistreat and abuse employees. It happens even more online because, on the internet, a person doesn’t have to possess the same boldness as when face-to-face. I believe the very spirit of that comes from a place of entitlement. And unfortunately, there are gamers out there who behave in such a manner and believe that it is okay.
The fact that Alanah Pierce, a developer at Santa Monica Studio, even had to endure what you see above is outrageous. These types of gamers do really exist. What is her crime that sparked such entitled outrage? That the release of the new God of War: Ragnarok game has been delayed. Pierce isn’t the only one. Leading up to the release of Cyberpunk 2077, developers at CD Projekt Red received death threats over the game’s delays. What is the cause of this? Is it because these particular gamers have the game pre-ordered and they believe that the developers and publishers are going to cheat them out of their money? That reason wouldn’t warrant such extreme behavior. Maybe these gamers feel a sense of power and believe these types of actions are what influence and control the gaming industry. There are more likely deeper issues in play. Whatever the reasons are, this type of behavior isn’t acceptable.
One thing to consider is that if the internet didn’t exist, the developers wouldn’t be experiencing as much harassment as they do. First off, it is much easier and convenient to go online and type a message to send directly to someone’s social media account than write a letter to mail off or make a phone call. A person like Pierce would have been significantly less accessible in the 1990s. But as people now have social media accounts connected to their jobs, it puts them in a much more vulnerable place Entitled and ill-meaning gamers that only seek to tear down and insult others are taking full advantage of this.
In my opinion, there are instances where gaming companies give consumers too much access. I applaud these organizations for having social media, message boards, and Discords to connect with their customer base. Unfortunately, there are both positives and negatives that come with it. The psychological effects of the negative can be damaging to the employees within the company. A talented developer shouldn’t have to carry the hurtful words that someone posted to his/her Twitter account while attempting to be in the right frame of mind needed to meet the demands of his/her job.
At the end of the day, we could live in a world where we don’t have video games. It’s all entertainment and we are not entitled to it. If we realize that, then we can have an appreciation for everything that is created. And there isn’t an issue with criticism as long as it is constructive and not about attacking someone personally we don’t even know. When I share my displeasure with something as a gamer, I strive to focus on the product or an action that I have an issue with. It should always be about respect and love in the end. Gamers who take that approach have a much better chance of being heard, considered, and possibly even reached out to in the future.
Let’s be careful to remember the people who provide the great games that we enjoy. And when we pay for it, that doesn’t give us the right to act as if we’ve become their overlords. It should be a transaction between two sides that equally respect each other. This is how the gaming community will thrive and be beneficial for all.