Developers who have suffered from harrassment at the hand of indignant fans may soon be able to find support groups organized by the International Game Developers Association.
A number of recent incidents of developers being abused in social networks by their so-called “fans” has led to an industry-wide discussion about the relationship between devs and gamers and the effects of social media.
IGDA director Kate Edwards told Polygon that her organization was looking into forming support groups for affected developers.
While she says the problem isn't yet having a major effect on game development, she admits that “we're at the cusp of where it could.”
"Fans are invested in the stories and worlds that developers create, and certain design decisions can be seen by fans to threaten those stories and worlds,” said Nathan Fish, lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Department of Science and Technology.
“Harassment silences and repositions content creators in ways that protect the interests of certain fan groups, which again is no justification for the kinds of abusive behavior and language seen online today."
Fisk argues that anonymity and the lack of social cues and consequences in online communication means that harassment is easier through online social media.
Also, game developers are still learning how best to fill their growing role as public figures.
"In particular, I think that the game developers — more recently independent developers — are struggling with becoming public figures," said Fisk.
"I also suspect that problems with online harassment have long been a problem for the gaming industry, but with the level of visibility provided by platforms such as Twitter and the growing public concern over various forms of harassment among gamers, that industry representatives are no longer willing to quietly ignore harassing or threatening comments."