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Do Online Games Have The Worst Communities?

Posted 11 Jan 2013 by

Are online gamers uniquely negative and prone to complain about their passions? That’s a question I’ve often heard posed in one form or another, and there’s some interesting writing about it by David Gaider, a writer for BioWare’s Dragon Age games, on his Tumbler blog. In the post he talks about how he basically avoids the official fan channels about the Dragon Age games since all of the negativity is depressing, but stresses that the loudest voices aren’t necessarily representative of the overall fanbase. It’s best if you read the whole post for the fuller context and nuance, but here are a couple of quotes:

…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.

…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.

…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.

…Best to take a breath, smile and remember there are a lot of really genuine, positive people to talk to. People who challenge you in a way that doesn’t make you feel worse about yourself. You should surround yourself with them the same way you’d surround yourself with such people in real life.

Words to live by? I hope so. The only other option is to simply avoid all online interaction with fans at all or make any such completely benign and PR-oriented, which would be unfortunate — and not, I suspect, what even the angry fan would want.

So what is it about online gamers that makes for such um… passionate online discussions? AKA why so many haters, who aren’t content to just hate and move on and do other things with their lives, but who need others to see and feel their hate?

On some level it’s a testimonial to the power of games. Diablo 2 is a good example; if people hadn’t loved the game they wouldn’t have had such passionate reactions — especially the negative ones — to Diablo 3. If D3 had just been some new game by some non-Blizzard studio, it obviously wouldn’t have sold a fraction of the 11m+ copies, but it wouldn’t have been met with such massive expectations, and if people didn’t like some of the game mechanics they’d have perhaps been angry, but not with anything approaching the vitriol or longevity we’ve seen about D3 since its launch.

Xanth and me were joking about that in an aside during the last podcast. How there are practically an infinite number of things we don’t like, in the entertainment and other fields, but in none of those cases do we feel compelled to seek out fansites or official forums devoted to those things, and commence filling them with angry posts, or posts designed to make people who do like those things feel bad.

Yet that sort of behavior seems almost expected when it comes to video games, especially online ones. Why? (I mean besides the clear and obvious fact that Diablo 3 is the worst game ever made, a fact that many former fans only became aware of somewhere around their 400th hour of play time.)


Jay Wilson tweeted the piece above, and a recent blue CM post on a very similar theme to the one quoted above can be seen with a click through.

Good game, bad community.

So everyday before I play Diablo I check Battle.net because I like to see what people are saying in the popular topics. The only downside is that every single day there is a at least one thread about how bad this game is, or where the flaws are. Now i can appreciate that some of the posts are well written, literate and informative. I.e, posts about what the overall community would like to see added to the game from a census of the community and trying to get the word to a CM and hopefully eventually to a developer. BUT then we have the threads of people raging and QQing about every other aspect of the game. I.e NERF RD TOO HARD!!!!!! Or THIS GAME IS SO BAD I WANT THIS AND THAT. It’s such a depressant to see this when I still manage to have fun with the game, there is nothing more of a buzzkill than seeing people point out all the things that may not be perfect. I understand Blizzard still has a ways to go with the game and who knows, these next few patches could prove to really turn the game around; PvP, new design features etc. All i’m saying is that there are still people out there who enjoy the game and all the people who !@#$% and complain about everything are not accomplishing anything but making other people feel worse about the game.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback about this topic.
Vaeflare : As someone who’s been browsing these forums daily since their inception, I not only understand your eagerness to check up on the buzz surrounding the Diablo III community, but also the frustration you feel whenever you see complaints from players who are sometimes being less than constructive.

Here’s the thing: there are lots of people out there that enjoy Diablo III, and I’d wager that the majority of players posting here are doing so because they are passionate about the game and want to offer insight to make it even better. But there are also some players that simply like to stir the pot. My best suggestion for the latter is to down-vote their posts and take advantage of the “Ignore” feature if you feel they are being detrimental to the community — and to use the “Report” function if they are outright breaching the forum’s Code of Conduct or Posting Guidelines. Using inappropriate language or harassing other players or employees is never okay, and we do our best to weed out such behavior from our forums.

As we’ve said many times before, we do appreciate feedback and constructive discussions, and we try our best to cultivate an environment where players feel comfortable discussing all things Diablo III. We realize the forums aren’t always going to be overflowing with rainbow unicorns and fluffy teddy bears, but that’s to be expected, and we truly do appreciate the continued passion of the Diablo III community.


Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Community Relations, Other RPGs, Vaeflare