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The Devil's Advocate: Developer Appreciation

Column By Victor Barreiro Jr. on August 02, 2013

If you’re an angry gamer who wants to swear at a MMO developer or sling personal attacks at someone working in a game company, today’s Devil’s Advocate is meant for you, yet will not be apt for you to read. If you can’t be civil towards the people responsible for the game you enjoy ranting or raving about, I doubt you’ll be civil towards the wacky idea of developer appreciation.

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Perhaps some of the people in the MMORPG.com community feel the need to get really riled up about how games work or about people in the industry they don’t like. You can do that, certainly, but perhaps you can hear me out and allow me to explain an idea made known in MMO blogging circles by my good friend ScaryBooster, a former writer for MMORPG.com.

Why Appreciate?

If you’re wondering what brought this on, there are at least three reasons for this. On the gaming side, two recent events have made me wonder why people are hostile to the very ones who are trying to give them something to enjoy.

For starters, there’s the story of a disproportionate reaction to some game balancing done for a sniper rifle in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. One Tumblr account has taken the liberty of cataloguing the violent threats made by gamers against Studio Design Director David Vonderhaar for the sniper rifle balance changes, and those threats? They’re not what you’d call pretty.

Another developer, Phil Fish,  also had enough of people’s negative reaction and harassment towards him. While Fish himself was a divisive character in the gaming industry, the constant stream of abuse against him was likely elevated to a breaking point by Marcus Beer of GameTrailers taking him to task with personal attacks on his Annoyed Gamer show. One seeming result of this was the cancellation of Fez 2.

Of Course, but Maybe

The third reason was a bit of an epiphany I had from seeing the following clip of Louis C.K.’s Oh My God Comedy Special.

 

He says, "There's no end to what can do when you don't give a f*ck about particular people. You can do anything. That's where human greatness comes from: it's that we're shitty people, that we f*ck others over."

Gesturing to a smartphone in his hand, he says, "Even today, how do we have this amazing microtechnology? Because the factory where they make them, they jump off the f*cking roof because it's a nightmare in there."

He ends the bit by saying that we have a choice. "You can have candles and horses and be a little kinder to each other, or let someone suffer immeasurably far away so you can leave a mean comment on YouTube while you're taking a sh*t."

The epiphany I had from watching him was simple: if games were the greatest thing ever for me for the longest time, and great things were made through human suffering, what did game developers have to suffer through aside from regular developmental crunch time and (depending on the developer) crappy working conditions to get something out that we readily take for granted?

Then I realized they had to suffer the slung words of zeal-filled types of gamers , the people who would take their hard work for granted and hurl invectives at them for things they were trying to do to improve game balance and make a game enjoyable for more people.

Developer Appreciation Week

ScaryBooster had something in mind a few years back. He started something called Developer Appreciation Week among the MMO bloggers, where bloggers and twitter users could simply spend seven out of 365 days thanking game developers for their hard work and reflecting upon what they admired about a given company.

The idea — at least for me — was that, regardless of what games you like or dislike, there was going to be at least one person who genuinely felt a game was worth appreciating, and the goodwill one thankful person could offer to a development team was something worth sharing with the people who make those games.

Scary no longer actively blogs, aside from personal messages to some of us online, but I’d like to think developer appreciation can happen more often than just a week on MMO blogs. Doing so is really simple too!

You can write a thankful tweet to a dev, or perhaps you can choose to go onto your MMO forum of choice for a game you love or have fond memories of. Once there, put in something you’d be happy to say to a developer you respect if you had the chance to talk to them about a happy feeling their game gave you. If you can’t think of any one thing, I’ll leave a message here for you to use: “Thank you to the developers and staff here for making a game that I enjoyed partaking in. You guys are awesome!”

Simple, right? While the MMO world is sometimes filled with doom, gloom, and competition, a little thank you for something that made you happy wouldn’t hurt one bit, now would it?

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and ArcheAge columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.


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Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains the the Landmark/Everquest Next and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can also find him on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.

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