Friday, September 12, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

I was openly pissed about the series of internet harassment and doxxing that fever pitched at the end of last month to developers, games press, and social justice advocates. The dust has settled and cleared since then, but instead of refocusing on the incidents themselves, let’s look at the industry’s incredible response to it all.

At the top of the month, game developer Andreas Zecher addressed this open letter to the gaming community:

We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened.
It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish. 

If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.

If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.

Thank you

The first 600 signatures included representatives from Riot Games, EA, Infinity Ward, Bioware, and Insomniac. The signature count capped at just under 2,500.

The International Game Developers Association (IDGA) has expressed profound awareness to the subject of internet harassment towards developers since last summer when industry men and women such as Jennifer Hepler and Adam Orth were attacked. It comes to no surprise that the IDGA went public in response to the most recent incidents:

"Over the last several weeks, game developers and affiliates have been the subject of harassment and 'doxxing' attacks, including threats and posting of home addresses.  While we support diverse viewpoints and healthy debate on the issues within our industry, we condemn personal attacks such as these which are not only morally reprehensible, but also illegal in many countries.  We call on the entire game community to stand together against this abhorrent behavior."

Even before late August, the IDGA has been working with the FBI to provide resources for game developers on their site when faced with harassment that will be available in the coming months. The association was considering creating support groups for developers, to then refocus efforts on creating a special interest group to investigate the mental health of developers.

IDGA’s executive director told Polygon referencing this special interest group in relation to the online harassments, "If we see that an issue is getting worse or that there is a greater need then we will serve that purpose. Obviously, given the recent events, that may be the case.

While I’m happy to see tangible resources in development to combat online harassment, I’d like to see more done. While we may only hear of high profile developers, abuse of this kind is unfortunately rampant throughout the gaming community and industry. More support groups that target gamers, writers, and developers are in need. Game sites and developers may be taking a stand on abusive behavior, but this sort of stance should be standardized and highly responsive towards such incidents.

It’s easy to feel threatened by the opposing opinions of others. But at the end of the day, just remember that we all have one thing in common: we all love video games. 

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