Over 600 Game Creators Call For An End To "Hateful, Harassing Speech"

Over 600 Game Creators Call For An End To

Stating that everyone "has the right to play games, criticise games and make games without getting harassed or threatened", some of the biggest names in gaming have put their names to an open letter addressing the community conflict that's been so prominent online over the past few weeks.

That number includes developers from companies like EA, Ubisoft, Bungie, Sony, Infinity Ward, Bioware, Blizzard, Microsoft, Riot, Epic and Paradox, as well as indie developers like Tim Schafer and Rami Ismail.

The letter reads:

We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticise 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.

If you want to read the full (and ever-growing) list, you can see it here.


    bravo. if this was a petition, i'd sign it

      Of course they want this to happen. The more people who play games the more money they make.

      Just dont confuse trolling with bullying, or smack talk with hate speech. They are very, very different.

      Trolling is where you place claymores infront of a spawning point, or where you run around the map knifing people who get mad - this is annoying, but not bullying.
      Bullying is where you constantly harass a single player (or group of players) unfairly and make them feel unwanted, hated or inferior as a person.

      Smack talk is where you have fun with your friends / companions online. Such examples are saying "bitch your mamma knifes better then you" or "you want some more teabags for that cup?" (after t-bagging someone).
      Hate Speech would be something like "Niggers cant swim bitch" or "You white crackers cant shoot for shit, fuck off this game and go play with your little dicks".

      Know the difference and don't take the fun out of gaming because of a few wowsers.
      Sorry for the language - mods please keep the post.

        Interesting. Unfortunately for you, this is only your opinion and only applies to how YOU react to how people treat YOU.

        If the person who is being smack talked/bullied/trolled, feels like you are bullying them, then you are bullying them. Your opinion on what constitutes each of these things only applies to how you feel when people do it to you.

        Do I think some people need to toughen up a bit? Sure. But that's only my opinion too ...

          I understand your point, but where do we draw the line?
          Just because someone feels they are being bullied....i mean, that could mean that anyone could feel bullied for any reason!

          An example - My boss didn't give me the pay rise i wanted...i feel like I'm being bullied. let's sue him.

          You're correct though - my opinion is mine, and may not be shared by as many as i hope.
          The WWW has already been destroyed by companies and governments trying to control everything. I hope that gaming doesn't join this as well.

      Will this change anything though? Not to sound defeatist, but I feel like this would just be preaching to the choir. The people smart enough to realise this behaviour hurts real people already know. And the people who are the problem lack the empathy and emotional intelligence to recognise the problem.

      Last edited 02/09/14 12:54 pm

        unfortunately this.
        Same principle as reducing the speed limit to prevent accidents in suburban areas. those who it is aimed at are going to speed regardless of the limit and those of us who obey the limit usually drive carefully enough to avoid accidents.

        But by spreading awareness and calling people out when they hate speak, it does cause them and others around them to start to think twice about doing/saying such things. It is always an incredibly slow process but the more people who recognise the problems and call people out on them, the quicker things move along and start to progress. If there is no resistance to this kind of behaviour, it just gets completely out of control.. just as it is now. This is why speaking up and calling people out on bullshit is so important.

        yeah, i guess there will always be those kind of people out there, same IRL though - but i don't think categorising people in such a binary manner is fair. I like to think there would be a group of people, however small, that may be affected by this kind of statement in a positive way; that may be convinced to start being a bit more empathetic - especially when it's driven by the people who develop the games that they like.

        even if that's not the case though, I always think it's better to try and encourage positive action wherever possible - if I had a dollar for every time i've heard someone say 'everyone else on the internet is shit so it doesn't matter if i'm shit too'...but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy - if everyone believed that, only then would it become true, and gestures like this help to show those people that there are actually people on the internet that would rather that not be the case

    I was hoping/expecting to see something like this. Good work.

    Please show the "gamer" kiddies this.

      They're not gamers. They're usually dudebros. But those dudebros usually don't care enough to look up anything game related. So we need to come up with a new term for those asshole gamers that have been destroying the games industry for a while.

        The can't comprehend it. They think there entitled to say and treat others as they want.

          Little boys pretending to be men and gamers.


            Yes! I second this!!

              Boymer: A boy trying to play the game of man.

                Love it

                But those idiots would most likely appropriate the term and use it against normal functioning human gamers.

                Boymer: Yet another term we stole and use against anyone who doesn't agree with our terribly flawed group logic.

            asshole gamers are bad, and annoying. There should be a new stronger word for these people. Badoying, yes! asshole gamers are badoying. Ok so that works better with killing and bad/wrong but it's the thought that counts right?

              I will stand for the opposite of this. I will be... Gniyodab.

        ...except it cuts both ways.

        The laughable thing about the ZQ scandal is the hypocrisy of some so-called "justice warriors".

        Someone claims to have been sexually harassed by ZQ?
        Shame an apology out of them.
        Support a doxxed feminist gaming charity to prove the practice of doxxing is unacceptable and not a matter of sexism?
        Call them misogynists anyway.

        I'm not saying all SJWs are bad, just that there are parties on both sides need to tone down hateful speech and think before making flippant comments.

    The last couple of weeks have made me cringe a little at being a gamer. This has the opposite effect. Good stuff. :)

    I've always felt alone doing this. Trying to rationally explain to people in online games why they shouldn't act like assholes. One guy even went full MRA on me and started talking about how feminists are the cause of sexism.

    Then I see a thread in the Halo forums of people talking in detail about the different kinds of teabagging you can do.

      The thing that made me lose all hope a few weeks back was reading the chat in Reckful's Hearthstone Twitch stream. Apparently some girl who is an "attention whore" (you know the type) had more viewers than everybody's precious Reckful so the chat blew up with horrible comments about this other "ugly slut". Did I mention that this other chick, not only failed to have her breasts on show but was actually higher on the leaderboards than Reckful? And of course Reckful fanned the flames. It even prompted wreckful's girlfriend, off-cam, to ask why he always picked on this other girl to which he replied with a shrug and a mumble. The indignation about fake gamer girls exploiting lonely nerds for subscribers was so heated is made me sick.

      Not 5 minutes later, the chat had changed its tune and were asking to see Reckful's girlfriend on cam. Apparently her voice is hot and the nerds wanted more, demanding "ass" and "rack" or they'd riot. He eventually agreed to show the stream a pic of her ass and grabbed his iphone. I never bothered to stay, I switched to HaFu's stream cause she was actually playing Hearthstone.

      Last edited 02/09/14 3:19 pm

        So there's this regular group of Halo players (you've probably come across them over the years) one of which is a girl. Started a stream for her games and one night a couple of months ago was doing Halo 4 while drinking with her boyfriend (I think). Didn't really have much viewers. Suddenly, one of her friends jumped into the chat of a Dota streamer and told everybody if her stream reached a milestone of viewers she would flash her tits. Suddenly the viewer count went up and the chat was full of people demanding tits. Some called her an attention whore then left while others kept pestering her. Eventually she took a couple of shots and flashed her tits, causing everybody to freak out. 10 seconds later a screen grab was uploaded of her doing that (someone must have had his finger on the Print Screen button for 30 minutes). She started freaking out then 5 minutes later an admin closed down her channel.

          Are you talking about She's [something]?

          Last edited 02/09/14 4:27 pm

          That's messed up. She shouldn't have given in, poor girl.

        The main reason I love Hearthstone is that I can play against other people without having to talk to them!

    Personally i prefer the capital punishment approach...


      If only those people were actually being punished. :(


    It's good, but the interesting, and glaring, omission to me is that they only call out online communities they don't control.

    They mention Steam, YouTube, etc. and finish with "make a public stand", but at no point do they attempt to address the hateful bile that flows out from their own in-game chat and community. There's no ownership of the problem, or commitment to address it, they're just signing their name against a document that says "please don't be mean".

    Last edited 02/09/14 11:53 am

      At the end of the day though, is it that much to ask? The fact that we have to ask people to please (hell, asking politely even) not be mean is a sign of how shitty the situation isn't it? Not being mean should be the norm, not a request, which hopefully we'll reach one day.

      Fair point.

      At least they're advocating use of 'report' functions where they exist.
      (Though you would think that this might be something that signing developers would incorporate in their own games.)

        Many of them probably actually do incorporate report functionality, moderators, etc. into their games and communities.

        I just thought it was interesting that they were specifically calling everyone else out.

          Heh. Makes sense to me... did you read that blog post about gamers being 'worthless', on the Puppygames blog? A big part of that cry for help was (paraphrased), 'We have to be on OUR best behaviour, but no-one else does! I don't even know why we do it, when gamers are worthless to us.' With a slight hint of envy over the notable dev exceptions who DO get to act like pricks a bit and get away with it.

          Which sounds about right. For the most part, journos and devs are a damned sight more civilized than the screaming howler-monkey noise that comes up from the player/community side of things. It's not on display at its worst here, but as an experiment try reading Kotaku-US for a week. You'll be horrified.

      This is a valid point, but I think it's important for people to see that the creators of the games they play are not in support of this. Quite a powerful stand I think.

        I agree it is a powerful stand, but it's also true that words and actions are two different things.

        We would have loved to do this...but.
        We really pushed for that....but.
        When it comes to game design you have to remember....

        Things heard far too often in gaming these days, not just regarding woman in games and often following promises.
        Lots of people talking about breaking down barriers but few actually deliver. The majority end up blaming the very beast they set out to slay.
        Those who usually deliver embody the phrase, speak softly and carry a big stick. They didn't sing their own praises and actually produce something meaningful and worthwhile, those rare gems that come out of left field and make a mark on gamers and the industry.

        This is a great start man, don't get me wrong.
        But maybe it's time that the louder speakers picked up a stick for once and not just wave it from a window when the internet kids run on their lawn.

        Last edited 02/09/14 6:03 pm

    Oh boy does the gaming community have a HUGE task of removing any of the vitriol from gaming culture.

    As a massive generalisation I think the gaming community is internally the most obnoxious community on the internet.
    I say internally because there’s obviously worse groups, communities set up to abuse others with a common goal of harassing others, but mostly those groups don’t abuse each other!

    Gamers abuse other gamers, they abuse games makers, they abuse reviewers, they abuse people who commentate on gaming culture…. They abuse EVERYONE.

    It’s not that gamers are terrible people by any means, it’s just that the nature of gaming itself attracts a key demographic of people who are sh*tbags.

    *Gaming attracts teenage boys who are often immature, antisocial, unbalanced kids (I know I was).

    *The games community exists almost entirely in a virtual space, it’s pretty rare that you ever meet these people face to face (if ever), there’s little or no accountability for your actions in most cases.

    *You can say gamers are passionate (which would be a good thing), but it’s no excuse for how entitled some members of the community are. Plenty of us either haven’t experienced the real world or have no idea of how real world business decisions are made. It doesn’t help that much of the gaming media love a good beat-up, if it takes 500 articles to fan the flames towards Bioware to the point that developers are getting death threats then the media doesn’t mind as long as it gets hits.

    In the end it just becomes a perfect breeding ground for people behaving obnoxiously towards everyone and everything. It’s funny because you go on forums which look like they’d be breading grounds for ‘dude-bros’ (who gamers blame for everything) and you’ll almost always find a more respectful online community than even the best of gaming websites (like this one).
    You won’t find a MMA website with as many idiots as IGN.com.

    Edit: As a clarifier I should have made it clearer that MOST gamers are good, even great people.
    It’s often just a case of the stupidest, least balanced people assuming that they deserve the loudest opinions.

    Last edited 02/09/14 11:48 am

    Over the past few weeks and months, I have been truly disturbed by the level of hatred and abuse I have seen online. It seems to get worse by the day.

    There seems to be a high level of nihilism and narcissism right now in the online world (not just related to gaming) that seems to me to be coming largely from middle class white males.

    I'm absolutely fed up of reading posts on Facebook, message boards and comments on website articles being full of condescending, know-it-all males trying to assert how 'clever' and 'intelligent' they think they are. It's a total desperation to be seen as important, knowledgable or just plain 'better' than anyone else, no matter what anyone else might think.

    The lack of empathy for others right now is terrifying to me. So much simmering hatred. I keep seeing guys telling others to 'go kill yourself' over simple differing opinions.

    A perfect example is earlier I was reading a message board thread about the GTAV 'Mystery/Easter Egg hunt'.

    There is a guy on there who is borderline psychotic over finding this 'jetpack' and 'solving' this mystery. He seems to have spent every waking moment since the release of the game poring over the game and it's contents to be the first to 'solve' this thing.

    He actually thinks he is 'famous' and will be known in history as a 'legend'. For real. For finding some hidden crap in a video game.... That he hasn't even found....

    He also thinks everyone has an undying respect for him because he talks down on anyone (with violent or homophobic language) who challenges his very clear mental illness. I even looked back to some of his posts and he is the most godawful bully I have ever seen online. Yet in that community he seems to have a lot of respect. Kids seem to look up to him.

    What I'm getting at is that these people can do or say whatever they like online as there is ZERO blocks or punishment for them. The more they get away with, the more arrogant and narcissistic they get. To dangerous levels.

    And as it seems that the louder and more obnoxious they are, the more respect they get from others, it's only going to get worse.

    I still think we're addressing this really vocal minority here.
    Not that we shouldn't - by all means, kick their asses - but don't pretend that this is a majority thing.

    And why is there no mention of the whole gaming journalism scandal that has equally been occupying the last 2 weeks?

      Maybe because it's a beat-up. Or at least, smells that way to me.

      I think Totilo's article/statement did the best summary where he laid out how for Grayson at least, there was provably no case to answer, since he hadn't actually written anything that could've been biased.

      He acknowledged that journalistic ethics are of importance, accusations had been made, and that in this instance there was no case to answer, so case closed. Anything else to do with those parties is utterly irrelevant to anyone and everyone.

      Given that result, I really didn't care to investigate the rest, because
      1) I don't usually read anywhere else, and
      2) I care even LESS about the other journos when the one I do know about is a proven false-positive.
      Bonus 3) The motherfucking crazies have been coming out of the woodwork. Every representation of vile and hateful you can think of. And I don't care how strong your case is to support something, if it means standing next to the KKK to do it, it's not worth it.

      Last edited 02/09/14 1:05 pm

        The evidence against Hernandez was pretty damning though - and legitimised, since she went back and edited all her (US) articles.
        (The KKK are supporting this? That's pretty gross. Time to leave, I think.)

        On a positive note: Why hasn't Kotaku (or anyone else for that matter) reported on how gamers (the enemy of all things good) have raised over $40,000 for a "get females into the gaming industry" IndieGoGo campaign? That's kind of a big deal at the moment, especially with all the shit of the last 2 weeks.

        Edit: Beat-up or not, I think that something that can go for 2 weeks is probably worth reporting on. I mean hell, we let Ashcraft review the latest fleshlights, why not report on something that is still going?

        Last edited 02/09/14 1:09 pm

          Oh. Metaphorical KKK. I don't think the actual group are. But the crazies with the death threats and misogyny are just as bad - that's who I was referring to.

    I think the comments above me make me happier than the article itself. INTERNET GROUP HUG

    "We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticise games and make games without getting harassed or threatened."

    I agree with this absolutely. I've had enough of being persecuted and attacked on the basis of my gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Hateful bigots who deny my right to an opinion will be directed to this open letter.

    You know what would make for a viable service these days? An internet blacklist/ignore API that you could tie you comment sections and forums into. Match up the details of users to a giant ass database and have a report system. Get enough reports again the account and bam, internet wide time out. :P

    People want to act like children then they can be treated like children.

      It's a good idea even as an opt in system addon to comments pages for places like this but how would you stop a system like that being gamed by arseholes using vote bombing to kill off accounts of people they don't like or are just picked at random? I'm thinking a massed 4chan dickhead attack could very easily disrupt loads of people's accounts and make moderators lives hell just because they're pathetic tools with no life.

        Would probably require mod approval I guess to avoid the bombing.

    If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it
    Well said. Don't respond to them or tell them how wrong they are, it'll just encourage them to continue, and it'll blow out of control. If the place you see it hasn't got a way to report it, find a moderator and tell them, or leave.

    Wind the clock back a number of years when blizzard tried to implement RealID on their forums so that there would be accountability for your behaviour online. It kind of blew up in their faces but they had the right idea. If we can ditch the anonymity associated with online behaviour we could probably make steps to curb peoples bullshit. sure there would still be some who still didn't give a shit but I'd hazard a guess that some 50-60% of the population put back on its public face that it uses when it goes outside.

      The only problem with the forcing of real names is that there are plenty of times that anonymity is important, it's just that those are swamped by the times it's used by arseholes being arseholes in secret so they can't be effectively punished for it

        I disagree and therefore you suck, you smell funny and should probably suffer some disproportionately gruesome injury for no reason!!

    Does anyone here actually know where the recent "hateful gamers" stance is coming from? Or are you all just parroting things you feel strongly about?

      Is it recent? This shit has been going on on one level or another for as long as I've been using the internet and I started in the late 90s. I think it's just that now everyone is online we're seeing the effects of a greater population, the more people you have the better the odds that you're going to find an arsehole. People also know there no effective mechanism for punishment as yet so they feel more free to spout whatever hateful bullshit comes to mind without any thought to repercussion because they know they won't be punched in the face like they would be if they said anything even remotely close to that in reality.

        recently this bad yes

          But has it really gotten worse or just more numerous with the greater number of people on the net?

            misinterpreted complaints growing out of proportion very fast, namely the Zoe Quinn stuff (hint: its not about her)

              What is it about, then? I just read about this, genuinely confused.

                For some people it is about her and how she must be a bad person to do what she did or whatever. This in turn has kicked off mass hysteria between social justice warriors and male rights activists.

                However for plenty of people it has furthered the debate into how people attract gaming media, where boundaries are, where they should be, why are some things reported and others ignored etc. It's only loosely tied to ZQ and goes much deeper (journalists donating money to game devs, game devs laying it on for journalists and taking schmoozing to a new level, gaming journalists/media overhyping games still to be released and basically working as PR dressed up as neutral/consumer focussed).

                But instead the message being put out by gaming media and gaming pubs is that we're the problem and we need to take a good long hard look at ourselves (or that we're a dying breed and gamers no longer exist as a subculture depending on which gaming media website you click on).

      It's a fair question! Where indeed would such a stance come from? Certainly, there are gamers who are hateful, but who is served by branding all gamers this way? Readers should ask themselves this. The person behind the curtain will not produce an exposé on the topic.

      A handful of people harass Zoe Quinn and everyone who plays videogames gets blamed for it.

        Thank you, that was the response i was looking for, for those who don't know search the internet aristocrats video on the subject matter. People don't read everything and just comment on something as soon as there "triggered" with there comments rich with emotion but void of any logic.

    This goes for ALL sides of the debate. The language I've seen by people, gamers or not, in the last few days has been reprehensible.

    Well that's funny because those game journalists have been harassing gamers on twitter and their own blogs for awhile, not to mention "end of gamers" journalism we are seeing.

    Way to punish the majority for the actions of the minority.

    Gamer community have had enough of this corruption. These sites need to be closed down and journalists fired.

    Last edited 02/09/14 6:28 pm

      I have literally seen more game developers and journalists giving shit out than anyone else, so this.
      The hypocrisy is fucking astounding.

    The threats are ridiculous and any sane human being would agree that no one has done anything tp deserve violence, however the gaming media has been quite biased about not fully addressing the issue of gaming journalists' integrity . had tthere been ni threats, what story would they hide behind to make us look the other way?

    I spent an hour writing a summary of the situation and promptly deleted it. I think all that needs to be said is, gaming journalists are only showing one side of the story and demonising the other. If you want to know what I mean, I suggest you take a listen to TotalBiscuits stance on this event.

      This is very true, and it's so frustrating.
      So many people, so many big names who are in charge of giving information to the masses, they say that this is entirely an gender issue, and willfully ignore a huge part of it. They want to make it a gender issue so they can say it's wrong, and they would be right IF it were only a gender issue.

        Agreed. Hide behind gender moral high ground and call gamers "Angry Misogynistic White Males".... But then on the other hand isn't 50% of gamers female these days? Not to mention games are played in every damn country by millions so the outrage surely can't be locked down to colour of skin.

        But what does it matter? Gamers are dead according to bloggers claiming to be journalists and if you disagree then you're a RaciMisogyHomoIslamoFasciPhobe.

    Let's face it, people in general are jerks. Everywhere I look in the world I see assholes, online or not. No one seems to be capable of self reflection and getting real with themselves - I've stopped caring and decided that it's only a matter of time before humanity caves in on itself.

    Until then I use this ingenious little thing called the "BLOCK BUTTON". Instead of a beat up and all this other crap about peoples feelings being hurt, how about people learn to switch off their consoles or computer, hit the block button and go outside. Sticks and stones.

    This is just like all the rubbish about online bullying - the problem stops existing if you use, ya know, common sense and ignore the person(s). Buuuut people are as prone to complaining for the sake of it as they are being wankers. Dunno about you, but I couldn't give a toss what a bunch of bratty little shits have to say. I have better things to do like oh jeez, spend time with my wife and family.

    Why would I allow myself to be offended by a bunch of mentally ill teenagers?

    The Devil just called and asked me to be his advocate. When we say that everyone should have the "right to play games, criticise games and make games without getting harassed or threatened", does that include those who have valid complaints, viewpoints and gaming tastes that run counter to popular opinion? Or is it merely a roundabout way of pushing a few recently relevant agendas?

    Are we going to be able to have civil and rational debates when discussing *both* sides of the gender equality problem, and be able to acknowledge that there actually are two sides? Will a game developer be able to release a game that has a particular artistic vision without game blogs and game journalists condemning and vilifying them for portraying people, races, religions, or castes this way or that way? Can a games company release a game that doesn't cater to every sexual orientation without a massive outcry and pressure to be more inclusive?

    I'm all for making sure that no one person or group of people are made to feel unwanted, poorly represented, threatened, or unable to voice an opinion for fear of reprisal, but people need to keep in mind that saying "Everyone" includes those who don't share your viewpoints.

    Not surprisingly, people have been going through the names of these 600 "developers. Here is a little summary of the first part of these so-called developers: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s7k8i1
    As you can see from the post, this was written after going through the first 109 names on the list. 69 of those are not involved in development of video games, and quite a few of them have been found to have tweeted insults to various people or gamers in general.
    This narrative was leaked by journalism insiders 2 days ago as another desperate attempt by the games media to spin this once again as misogyny and harassment. And with every article, the games media keep revealing its bias and its desperation to paint every gamer out there, including everyone reading this comment, as a fountain of unbridled hatred toward anyone that isn't themselves.
    In addition to the narrative, the link posted shows that Kotaku didn't even bother to do their research, instead blindly claiming that all of these were developers, when in fact they are not. Is that the journalistic standard we have been forced to accept here?

    Oh look, the comments section gets hit by the people on the "gamergate" train, regurgitating the message formulated by disgusting bigots via the straw man of gaming journalism (seriously guys, there's a reason all your comments read EXACTLY THE SAME, with the same words. Agenda. Debate. Conspiracy. Think about that for a second- they aren't your words, you're repeating someone else's). I knew it couldn't last. :(

    Edit: wait a second, I thought Kotaku was on your "banned video game sites" list because it's filled with SJWs? http://imgur.com/NFGgOEU

    Last edited 03/09/14 4:06 am

      -Rambling ignorance removed-

      Last edited 02/12/14 5:52 pm

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