Overwatch Director Says Speaking To Fans Is 'Intimidating' For His Team

How many of the people who make games fear some of the people who play them? That question drove conversations last week among quite a few game developers, and over the weekend, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan offered his own take: A lots.

On the Blizzard forums last Wednesday, a fan wondered if the team behind the popular hero shooter was understaffed. "Now I get it the devs have to choose their words carefully and can't respond to every [question]," wrote poster Vánagandr, pointing out a lack of "blue posts" from Blizzard staff on the Overwatch development team. (On Blizzard's forums, posts from staff members show up as blue.) "Even large collective threads with hundreds of posts on one topic, or dozens of threads on the same question go ignored."

On Friday, Kaplan responded, with a 1300-word post that touched upon many things, including the amount of work that he and his 100-person Overwatch team put into the game. ("Since the day we have launched, we've only increased our efforts and dedication.")

He continued with an explanation for why "blue posts" appear to be so infrequent:

And if you'll allow me to speak openly for a moment — it's scary. Overall, the community is awesome to us. But there are some pretty mean people out there. All of our developers are free to post on these forums. Very few of us actually do because it's extremely intimidating and/or time consuming. It's very easy to post the wrong thing and make a "promise" to the community that no one intended to make. Once we say we're working on something, we're not allowed to "take it back". It's set in stone.

Also, because we are open with you and do not hide behind an anonymous handle (like all of you have the luxury of doing), we often times get personally attacked and threatened.

Most great developers I know just love being head's down making or playing games. The "public speaking/posting" part of the job is downright scary and intimidating. It often feels like there is no winning.

It's a mirror of comments made by veteran designer Charles Randall last week, who wrote on Twitter that "gamer culture is so toxic that being candid in public is dangerous". Kaplan took things even further, pointing out that Overwatch fans regularly email Blizzard asking for heads:

Of course the team talks about Mercy. Of course we talk about Ana. But we talk about all of the heroes. If we post, "we're talking about Mercy" immediately there is an expectation that she is going to be radically changed in the next patch when the truth is, we might just leave her how she is for a while. We're not allowed to post that here without our bosses (and I am talking literally here) receiving emails from some of you demanding we be fired. It's not exactly what I would call a safe environment for creative people to openly express their thoughts and feelings.

It's yet another example of how toxicity in the gaming community can impact the people behind games, and yet another sign that things need to change.


Comments

    Oh be a man and suck it up.

    Or maybe the SJW would rather me say: Oh be an attack helicopter and blow them all to hell.

      You want to see a real "mean" person who personally attacks? Look into Derek Smart and his war on Star Citizen. That's an article Kotaku should write about to call him out for his BS.

        If you think Derek smart sooking like a child on twitter is comparable to Rabid overwatch fans then you are clearly ignorant or blind.

      OR some gamers should join the grown up world, the place where they realise that a game is just a GAME and devs arent required to unconditionally bend their vision to others will.

      It is not nothing to do with SJW (groan) it is just called being an adult and respecting others enough not to harass them in their workplace. I wonder if you would still be complaining about SJW's if someone spoke to you, in your workplace, like some of these gamers do.

        Overall, the community is awesome to us. But there are some pretty mean people out there.

        Maybe you should read...

          I am confused. I DID read the article. Not sure how your comment relates to what I wrote, given in my comment I was quite clear with words like "some", numerous times.

            Because he admits that the majority are good normal people while only some are mean.

            So why even have a story about how the majority are subject to the dishonest elevation of a ridiculously impotent minority.
            Why not celebrate the overall he mentions?
            Why focus on something we all
            Condemn and pretend it renders us all so weak?!

              because the people who are like this are highly indicative of a certain entitled culture that is causing a lot of headaches and emotional distress to real people right across the interwebs. One doesnt need to play Overwatch to know exactly the type of gamers we mean, they exist in all games/tv show/movies sites, whether they do it to troll or because they truly believe causing real people distress over such unimportant things, is justified. We constantly need to have people stand up and say 'not on my watch'.

              The happy masses of Overwatch fans ARE celebrated everywhere. Their tales are told and shown every where. However the people responsible for such actions should not be ignored, as if their harassment wouldnt be in real settings.

      I must have missed the part in the Man Handbook that includes "accept abuse from entitled strangers" as part of its definition.

      That's what they've been doing. For years.

      The point is that you can only 'suck up' so much abuse from entitled assholes before you decide, at the very least, to stop openly inviting it by merely existing in a public space. Even "Real" men get tired of dealing with people's bullshit and learn to avoid it.

    Judging from your previous posts, you're the type of person Blizzard doesn't want to engage with. Totally understandable.

    If official game forums made it so that you had to post under your real name and not an alias, I bet there'd be a lot less entitlement and toxicity.

    There'd still be some, of course, because some people are just dicks regardless, like those emailing Blizzard bosses asking for people to be fired.

    I mean, seriously, what is wrong with some people that they'd think that's an okay thing to do?

    If official game forums made it so that you had to post under your real name and not an alias, I bet there'd be a lot less entitlement and toxicity.

    There'd still be some, of course, because some people are just d!cks regardless, like those emailing Blizzard bosses asking for people to be fired.

    I mean, seriously, what is wrong with some people that they'd think that's an okay thing to do?

      That's basically impossible to enforce, though. How do you force someone to use their real name?

      Real name policies are grossly overrated as ways to stop harassment. You only need to look as far as some of the crap people are happy to post from their Facebook profiles to see that. More often, real name policies just mean the victims of harassment become that much easier to target with some really vile stuff. Moderation and strong community norms are what's required here, not real names.

        Then you come to moderation issues. To be effective there really needs to be a human doing it there is got, not just in the financial sense but also emotional. Sure the harassment wouldn't be targeted at them, but reading through all of that trash would take it's toll.
        You could automate moderation but we all know how well that works.

      I don't think that makes a difference. Plenty of people post vile stuff on embedded comment sections (via Facebook social plugin - pretty common) on websites all the time with their real names :/

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