Gaming Roundup: Raging Gamers Are Taking a Toll on Developers

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Angry gamers raging on the internet about pretty much anything and everything are nothing new. The internet troll™ came, inescapably, hand-in-hand with the inception of the internet. And who among us hasn’t been privy to the all-too-frequent multiplayer mic outbursts on Xbox Live, PC, or PSN, which more often than not devolve into racist, sexist, or homophobic rants? More recently, the rise of Twitter and increasingly open lines of communications between game studios and their consumers have produced a new target for gamer vitriol—game developers themselves.

This past week, an anonymous veteran game developer published an open editorial over at Kotaku, issuing a plea to gamers to remember that at on the other end of the insults, fellow humans exist. They cite death threats and a never-ending barrage of mean-spiritedness from gamers as the biggest downside to their jobs. This anonymous developer is by no means alone. Last July, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 developer David Vonderhaar received death threats and threats against his family via Twitter for changes made to weapon timing in a Black Ops 2 patch. Last August, Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler quit her job because of threats made against her children due to comments she made about Dragon Age II. Phil Fish, developer of the massive indie hit Fez, ragequit the entire industry last year, canceling Fez 2 in the process, while attempting to deal with certain criticisms.

But what’s to be done? The initial answer seems to be “not much.” The internet will always attract more than its fair share of idiots, and with the increased accessibility social media and fan forums provide to game developers, it’s no use preaching temperance to the masses. Perhaps some of this freedom needs to be walked back somehow. Studios themselves could also start paying more attention to the issue—former Microsoft developer Stephen Toulouse states that when he broached the topic with Microsoft, the corporate giant was unsure of what steps to take and ended up ignoring the issue. The International Game Developers Association has taken steps to establish support groups for developers, but the problem is a long way from being solved. Any suggestions, Dear Reader?

In other gaming news this week, Naughty Dog releases the first single player DLC for The Last of Us on Valentine’s Day, Episode Two of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us is coming this February, and Nidhogg brings dueling to the indie game scene, in style. Read on!

  • Telltale Games is releasing the somewhat delayed second episode of their critically acclaimed The Wolf Among Us series in early February.
  • Nidhogg, an indie dueling game that has generated a ton of buzz in gaming circles prior to its launch, is now available for Windows PCs on Steam. Check out the trailer below!

  • Want to vacation in outer space? IGN came up with an ultimate video game space travel guide last week, tipping their hat to such destinations as the Afterlife Bar (Mass Effect), Jacinto City (Gears of War), and Reach (Halo). Personally, we’d add someplace nice ’n divey like Rowdy’s Bar (Anachronox), followed by a scenic visit to Na Pali (Unreal - the game whose graphical influence still resonates today). Where else would you go?
  • So, Battlefield 4 is taking a break from the monotony of guns ’n grenades and is letting you dominate the fighting grounds with a badass freaking whip. We’re not huge fans of military shooters, but that’s pretty cool.
  • Happy Valentine’s Day from Naughty Dog! The developer has announced the release date, February 14, for the first single player piece of DLC (titled Left Behind) for their landmark post-apocalyptic game, The Last of Us. After all, what better way to spend Valentine’s Day than with a horde of infected zombies killing everyone and everything you’ve ever loved?
  • Finally, last week we discussed the future of Steam in the console business. This week Valve took a more conventional turn with their Steam Machine controllers, opting to remove the touch sensors and reverting to traditional physical buttons.

If there are games you’d like us to cover or blogs you think we should be following for more news, please let us know @tdelucci or @pritpaulbains.

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