The Internet is not always a kind place, especially when you’re a public figure.
In the wake of questions about Blizzard’s “Designer Insights” video series, Hearthstone game director Ben Brode articulated a sentiment that’s far too common in the world of game development. He and other members of the dev team, he said, would like to make more videos and speak more candidly, but the specter of harassment looms.
“I love doing videos, and I think I can convince more of the team to get involved, so it’s not just me,” Brode wrote on Reddit, having explained that he makes many Hearthstone videos alone—in his own home, no less. “Not everyone is as excited about being a public face as [senior producer] Yong [Woo] and I are, though—there is a lot of harassment that comes with being more public.”
That said, the Hearthstone team is working on whipping up a permanent space for video shoots, so that team members who do want to be more public-facing don’t have arrange sleepover parties at Brode’s house.
Still, it’s a shame that this is the line many developers walk these days. Sure, they could be more open, but reprisal from the Knee-Jerk Legion can be swift and painful. Developers make bad decisions sometimes, but the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and harassment is garbage no matter how you slice it. As a result, many devs tend to err on the side of bland messaging or what seems to be secrecy because, well, why risk it?
A moderator of the popular Hearthpwn community named Fluxflashor summed up what needs to happen now (via PCGamesN): “Although you may not agree with certain philosophies that the team may have about the game, it is important to post with respect and stay constructive. We should be welcoming communication first and foremost, so let’s make that more of a priority this year and not feed those who want to cast plagues upon the creators. On the moderation side we can only do so much since we’re only one site of many within the community, but as a whole, we need to stop letting the really toxic posts stew.”
Don’t be a dick, in other words, and if you see other people being dicks, speak up or take action. These kinds of problems don’t get solved unless everybody’s putting in their share of work.