Why all that whinging online is counterproductive

Ever been left infuriated as the developer or publisher from whom you have been demanding answers online simply ignores you?

Yeah, well it could be that’s there’s a very good reason for that. You may well fall into an upsettingly large category of online forum users whom sane minded individuals refer to as fecking idiots”.

BioWare veteran and lead writer for Dragon Age David Gaider has bravely taken to the internet to explain why he tries his best to avoid BioWare’s own forums.

The overall tone of the forums has become increasingly toxic,” he said. I tend to largely avoid them these days, myself. Why? Because spending too much time there starts to make me feel negative – not just about the games we make, but about myself and life in general. That’s not a good feeling to have.

I’m sure there are folks there who would bristle at that comment, suggesting that all negative feedback is justifiable and that ignoring it is the equivalent of us sticking our heads in the sand. How will we ever improve unless we listen to their scolding and take our lumps like good little developers?

The signal-to-noise ratio does seem to be worsening, and eventually you get the feeling like you’re at one of those parties where all anyone is doing is bitching. It doesn’t matter what they’re bitching about so much as, sooner or later, that’s all you can really hear. Engaging starts to mean partaking in the bitching until you feel like that’s all you’re doing.

I imagine that can happen to any online community. Eventually the polite, reasonable folks stop feeling like it’s a group of people they want to hang around. So they leave, and those who remain start to see only those who agree with them – and, because that’s all they see, they think that’s all there is. Everyone feels as they do, according to them.

Once the tipping point is passed, you’re left with the extremes… those who hate, and those who dislike the haters enough to endure the toxic atmosphere to try and combat them. Each clash between those groups drives more of the others away.

I think there’s something to be said there about the level of rhetoric and entitlement among online gamer communities in general. Personally I’d really like to seek out positive interactions and not engage with those who are out to attack me… but that’s really hard, isn’t it?

It’s especially hard when someone takes something you’ve said and twists it, and then misrepresents it to others as what you actually said… and how would they know otherwise? Reference that misrepresentation and, as far as anyone’s concerned, I may as well have said it.

The urge to go in and correct them is almost overwhelming. But what would be the point, other than to offer them new ammunition and ultimately end up being an asshole myself?”

David – we share your pain. The next time we see you we’re going to give you a great big hug.

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