Activision Publishing CEO Decries Death Threats Against Devs

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Activision Publishing CEO Decries Death Threats Against Devs

Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg says threats of physical violence against game developers are "absurd" but admits that he doesn't know how the industry could go about making them stop.

Treyarch Design Director David Vonderhaar probably had no idea what was in store when he announced that the fire time of one of the Black Ops 2 weapons had been changed from 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds, and in his defense it hardly seems like the sort of thing that would fire threats of violence and death against him and his family. And yet that's exactly what happened, and it got bad enough that Activision Community Manager Dan Amrich felt compelled to post an editorial entitled simply, "Stop Threatening Game Developers."

But actually convincing people to stop behaving badly is a hard thing to do, especially when your audience is as big as that of the Call of Duty franchise. "Call of Duty is a game that 40 million people will play this month. First off, anything that 40 million people will do is going to result in maybe a few behaving in way that you wish they wouldn't," Hirshberg told OXM. "I love that we have a passionate audience, people who are engaged and opinionated, that's a gift for people being creative. But some people took things way too far, and threats of physical violence is absurd and I obviously do not accept it."

Hirshberg said game developers actually appreciate hearing negative feedback about their games because it helps them make better games in the future, but the interconnectivity that allows gamers and game makers such unprecedented access to one another also makes it almost impossible to stop the abuse. And aside from asking gamers to maintain some sense of perspective when they criticize, he really doesn't know what else can be done.

"I don't know how the industry could, as you say, 'make a stand'," he said. "I don't know what that looks like, or how it could even be done, when you have this mass of ways to connect and huge communities attached to digital ecosystems."

Source: OXM

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Andy Chalk:
"I don't know how the industry could, as you say, 'make a stand'," he said. "I don't know what that looks like, or how it could even be done, when you have this mass of ways to connect and huge communities attached to digital ecosystems."

The problem is a lack of parenting. Parents just don't seem to give a shit what their kids do or say any more. I see it every day in my classroom.

Ergo, the obvious solution is to be the parent yourself, in lieu of the parent's refusal to do so.

"Oh, you threatened our devs with murder? You're grounded, mister. That's a two week account ban from our servers. Now you can't play CoD via online multiplayer, since you're so intent on murdering our devs. Hopefully next time you'll express your disagreement in more constructive ways."

Normally I'm not okay with people getting banned from access to the games they bought, but when you start bringing death threats into the equation, I'm sorry, but that should be taken seriously and dealt with in a serious fashion. Kids need to learn how to express their displeasure in ways that don't involve graphic descriptions of how they'd like to hurt, maim, or murder someone they don't like.

I don't know what could be done to address it. But I wonder why they don't press charges against some of these people. With as many death threats and things they were getting surely some of them could be traced back to specific person. Maybe if people started facing fines and things they would get there act together. I can understand if them tweaking your favorite gun made you swear at the tv. But there is no excuse to make death threats and doing so against their kids, yeah that should get you some personal time with the police.

Perhaps the companies could do more to distance these announcements from specific people. Maybe having the announcements just sourced as coming from "Treyarch" rather than "Design Director David Vonderhaar".

CriticKitten:
The problem is a lack of parenting. Parents just don't seem to give a shit what their kids do or say any more. I see it every day in my classroom.

I'm personally betting a large number of the threats are coming from adults. Personally, I think anyone that threatens the guys family rather then him seems more likely to be an adult rather than a kid.

CriticKitten:
The problem is a lack of parenting. Parents just don't seem to give a shit what their kids do or say any more. I see it every day in my classroom.

Ergo, the obvious solution is to be the parent yourself, in lieu of the parent's refusal to do so.

"Oh, you threatened our devs with murder? You're grounded, mister. That's a two week account ban from our servers. Now you can't play CoD via online multiplayer, since you're so intent on murdering our devs. Hopefully next time you'll express your disagreement in more constructive ways."

Normally I'm not okay with people getting banned from access to the games they bought, but when you start bringing death threats into the equation, I'm sorry, but that should be taken seriously and dealt with in a serious fashion. Kids need to learn how to express their displeasure in ways that don't involve graphic descriptions of how they'd like to hurt, maim, or murder someone they don't like.

Something to keep in mind is that it may well be an expression of the Online Disinhibition Effect, otherwise known as the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

Generally reasonable people can turn into psychopaths when under the veil of anonymity and without a tangible risk of consequence. It's a sad fact of the internet and human nature. I'm not sure there's really a way to put a stop to it without destroying the basis of the internet.

It's sad that something as simple as "Stop being a hateful whiny fuckhead over the littlest shit" eludes these people so much that it's newsworthy.

...Or maybe that's the problem. They do it because it gets attention.

You know how we are increasing in the ownership of digital copies of games? I think it would be fair to make or amend EULAs to where if a person decides to attack a developer with acts of violence or death threats, then their rights of usage and ownership of that game (or to go further, any of the games from that publisher or developer) are forfeit. Can't take change or developer's opinions about things, and you can't be civil about it? Well then, you'll become a non-customer that can no longer buy anything from them anymore - And before you think you can hide behind anonymity and continue your rampage, they have your CC number, DOB and maybe even SS on record, so creating an alt account to get around your ban would likely put you on the grounds of identity theft and/or fraud.

CriticKitten:

Normally I'm not okay with people getting banned from access to the games they bought...

There's a clause in my apartment lease that says if I "engage in illegal activity", I can be evicted immediately with forfeiture of my entire deposit.

Death threats are illegal. They'd be lucky to just be out $60 for such an important life-lesson.

Kind of off topic, but this guy is the CEO of Activision? What happened to Kotick? Is that greedy bastard out of the business?

To those trying to find the single reason that turds exist on the internet, I'd like to add a new option: ANY OR ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Any one of those reasons is enough to destroy a mortal soul, so think about what happens when multiple reasons collide. No individual can fix it, and even groups will fail. The internet will be a cesspool for millennia longer than any of us will be on this planet, as will bad parents, or the existence of pure stupidity.

How can they stop that?
They can't and don't need to, because it's not their fault. It's parents that fail and let their kids behave like dipshits or parents that failed and let their kids grow into "adult" dipshits.
Either way the only thing they can do is live with it, because there's no way to make every single player happy.

Genocidicles:
Kind of off topic, but this guy is the CEO of Activision? What happened to Kotick? Is that greedy bastard out of the business?

Huh, now that I read that, it makes me wonder too. Maybe Kotick was put in by Vivendi, and then when Activision bought itself from Vivendi, he lost his position and Hirshberg came in?

CriticKitten:

Andy Chalk:
"I don't know how the industry could, as you say, 'make a stand'," he said. "I don't know what that looks like, or how it could even be done, when you have this mass of ways to connect and huge communities attached to digital ecosystems."

The problem is a lack of parenting. Parents just don't seem to give a shit what their kids do or say any more. I see it every day in my classroom.

Ergo, the obvious solution is to be the parent yourself, in lieu of the parent's refusal to do so.

"Oh, you threatened our devs with murder? You're grounded, mister. That's a two week account ban from our servers. Now you can't play CoD via online multiplayer, since you're so intent on murdering our devs. Hopefully next time you'll express your disagreement in more constructive ways."

Normally I'm not okay with people getting banned from access to the games they bought, but when you start bringing death threats into the equation, I'm sorry, but that should be taken seriously and dealt with in a serious fashion. Kids need to learn how to express their displeasure in ways that don't involve graphic descriptions of how they'd like to hurt, maim, or murder someone they don't like.

i'm going to agree with raziel, i can't tell you how many man-children i've played with online and know in person, that are immature fuckwads, and because they are old/live on their own now, they have just become worse because "we're adults now, we can do what we want."

granted that does come back to parenting, but that's obviously long past overdue for them, and i'm just pointing out that children aren't the only ones who make threats and such without realizing the gravity of it.

...Wasn't this already posted? A month or more ago?

Uhm. This is rather late to the party.

OT: I concur.

Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

Raziel:
I don't know what could be done to address it. But I wonder why they don't press charges against some of these people.

Hey, remember that LoL player that got jailed for six months despite no evidence at all during which he had to be moved to solitary confinement for his own safety and was only let out after someone paid half a million in bail? Because he put a message on Facebook? I'd like that to NOT happen again. I agree, these guys need to be punished, but jailing them seems a bit much.

This doesn't surprise me: just look at this picture of a senior Activision exec:

In any case, we have this week's contender for most obvious statement. Also Lyte from Riot really needs to publish a book

Church185:
Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

You know that's the best solution I've heard off. Since the game is what matters so much to these idiots that's where you can hit them where it hurts. Problem is that could easily be exploited by people who want weapons nerfed.

Activision trying to cash-in on the trendy victimhood thing. :P

Solution: Satire.

Satire forges fashion and social standards where nothing else can.

I just wonder what would happen if all those people that make death threats over the internet would do if they got put in jail for them (at least here, making a death threat with given proof is jail-worthy) Since things like this, or the Bioware writer thing are directed towards a specific person.

Dr.Awkward:

Genocidicles:
Kind of off topic, but this guy is the CEO of Activision? What happened to Kotick? Is that greedy bastard out of the business?

Huh, now that I read that, it makes me wonder too. Maybe Kotick was put in by Vivendi, and then when Activision bought itself from Vivendi, he lost his position and Hirshberg came in?

Kotick served as CEO of Activision from 1991 until 2008 when he became CEO of Activision Blizzard, the holding company that was created when Activison and Vivendi Games merged.

Activision Blizzard has two principal operating units: Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment.

Hirshberg has been President and CEO of Activision Publishing since 2010.

Morhaime has been CEO of Blizzard Entertainment since he cofounded that company in 1991.

Church185:
Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

What they need to do is throw in a Pink texture patch for that gun for a while. Have it shooting bubbles or rainbows, and have it scream like a baby when it fires. Completely drive the idiot out of the game.

CriticKitten:
The problem is a lack of parenting. Parents just don't seem to give a shit what their kids do or say any more. I see it every day in my classroom.

Ergo, the obvious solution is to be the parent yourself, in lieu of the parent's refusal to do so.

I completely agree with you. I've raised myself amidst a lot of difficulties and I always thought of myself as somebody not too bright, but I mean, I always could make the distinction between video game violence and real life violence (so maybe I'm smart after all? In comparison to the average, that is), and I always wanted to think that children are smart enough to recognize it too. Pardon my french, but screw me, I was so, so wrong.

Okay, I've seen a lot of bad during my childhood in my real life, maybe that helped separate stuff, but damn.. I never thought there are actually people who can afford to grow up so detached from reality that they are unable to grasp that words (and especially words that are stored forever in databases on the internet) have dire consequences, even on the internet. If somebody decides to take legal action against you in retaliation, or you actually kill somebody (there are actual people who can't separate video games from reality and they commit actual aggression because of it - yes, most of the bull you see on TV is media fabrication so the real cases are seldom public knowledge), well, that's a stigma that you won't ever wash off and just 'cause you weren't a whole enough human to live in a society, doesn't deem you above its rules.

I still say, the most effective action you can do if you are really that pissed off at a company is to boycott them, don't buy their next product. That at least can't possibly have legal implications, but if enough of the people, who make death threats realize this (and the silent majority too, of course), then it might actually have an effect.

Antari:

Church185:
Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

What they need to do is throw in a Pink texture patch for that gun for a while. Have it shooting bubbles or rainbows, and have it scream like a baby when it fires. Completely drive the idiot out of the game.

Dude, that's so Borderlands.

beez:

Antari:
What they need to do is throw in a Pink texture patch for that gun for a while. Have it shooting bubbles or rainbows, and have it scream like a baby when it fires. Completely drive the idiot out of the game.

Dude, that's so Borderlands.

I haven't played Borderlands 2 yet they have something like that in there? ... Always getting ninja'd ....

Antari:

beez:

Antari:
What they need to do is throw in a Pink texture patch for that gun for a while. Have it shooting bubbles or rainbows, and have it scream like a baby when it fires. Completely drive the idiot out of the game.

Dude, that's so Borderlands.

I haven't played Borderlands 2 yet they have something like that in there? ... Always getting ninja'd ....

There's a gun you can obtain during a sidequest that screams like hell when you shoot it and it slows you down to a crawling speed. According to the quest it's made people mad in the past. (As far as I know you can randomly loot other talking guns too, I just remember this one distinctly, cuz it was powerful and I used it a lot - I actually had to lower the volume of the game because it screamed so loudly that I couldn't hear my mate over skype -, because it was fun to be a turret). It's not pink and it doesn't blow bubbles, but that's not too far fetched from the concept. /methinks :D

Update: Youtube link

(sorry for the offtopic)

Dr.Awkward:
You know how we are increasing in the ownership of digital copies of games? I think it would be fair to make or amend EULAs to where if a person decides to attack a developer with acts of violence or death threats, then their rights of usage and ownership of that game (or to go further, any of the games from that publisher or developer) are forfeit. Can't take change or developer's opinions about things, and you can't be civil about it? Well then, you'll become a non-customer that can no longer buy anything from them anymore - And before you think you can hide behind anonymity and continue your rampage, they have your CC number, DOB and maybe even SS on record, so creating an alt account to get around your ban would likely put you on the grounds of identity theft and/or fraud.

thats actually a good idea. not just make sure they loose access to their current games but also make sure they can no longer use any future games from that publisher. id like to see a visit from police with a little warning that says this shit is not acceptable behaviour

beez:

Antari:

beez:

Dude, that's so Borderlands.

I haven't played Borderlands 2 yet they have something like that in there? ... Always getting ninja'd ....

There's a gun you can obtain during a sidequest that screams like hell when you shoot it and it slows you down to a crawling speed. According to the quest it's made people mad in the past. (As far as I know you can randomly loot other talking guns too, I just remember this one distinctly, cuz it was powerful and I used it a lot, because it was fun to be a turret).

Ya I wouldn't be making it powerful in any way. If the game and the gun are THAT important. It doesn't need to be in the game. But you can't let that sort of thing change the path of a game .. so just change it up for a little while. You'll either have a crazy on your hands or nothing will happen at all. I'd bet very heavy on the nothing happening side.

Antari:
I'd bet very heavy on the nothing happening side.

Well Activision-Blizzard was always sloppy on the PvP/MMO balancing, due to all kinds of lazy on their side, but they don't deserve death threats. Especially when it's a contest to be as menacing as possible. That's really a sociopathic behavior.

Even if the targets don't take action against them, the only positive thing about the recent privacy issues during job interviews, when they review an applicant's online social activities is that people will eventually learn how permanent a stigma their antisocial behavior and stupidity can be.

I mean, just who doesn't love a person whose excuse is: "I wasn't really serious when I threatened (him/her) about following (his/her) family and murdering them in cold blood." A lot of people abuse the limited amount of free speech the Internet still offers and it seems employers are tired of this too. So yeah, good luck, ruin your life and be an asshole, I'm sure it will eventually pay off.

I'm a little surprised this hasn't happened enough to be expected.

That's not a justification or even acceptance.

CriticKitten:

"Oh, you threatened our devs with murder? You're grounded, mister. That's a two week account ban from our servers. Now you can't play CoD via online multiplayer, since you're so intent on murdering our devs. Hopefully next time you'll express your disagreement in more constructive ways."

Okay, so...Say I hypothetically threaten Joe Blow, the person who patched Fake Shooter for Hypothetical Studios and I threaten him from my email of squeegeebeckenheim@fakeemailhost.com

Unless my gamertag is also squeegeebeckenheim, how do you ban me from the Fake Shooter servers? these were threats that game from outside the service, to my knowledge. Or what if it's tweeted? I mean, shifting from fake examples to the real world, a guy on Facebook got pissed off at me and threatened my mom. Facebook doesn't even doing anything about that sort of thing. I mean, you can report, but the threat to rape and harm/kill my mom was met with no action.

I can call the police, but I know the guy's name, his address, his place of business, etc. but what do we do with a thousand faceless kids on the web? Can we even reasonably police this sort of thing? Will Twitter start giving details so bans can be issued? I doubt that, so do we go to the authorities? It seems like @fakename will get away with this sort of thing.

It'd be nice to give them a time out, but can it really be applied enough to send the message?

Genocidicles:
Kind of off topic, but this guy is the CEO of Activision? What happened to Kotick? Is that greedy bastard out of the business?

Kotick is CEO of Blizzard Activision.

Dr.Awkward:
You know how we are increasing in the ownership of digital copies of games? I think it would be fair to make or amend EULAs to where if a person decides to attack a developer with acts of violence or death threats, then their rights of usage and ownership of that game (or to go further, any of the games from that publisher or developer) are forfeit. Can't take change or developer's opinions about things, and you can't be civil about it? Well then, you'll become a non-customer that can no longer buy anything from them anymore - And before you think you can hide behind anonymity and continue your rampage, they have your CC number, DOB and maybe even SS on record, so creating an alt account to get around your ban would likely put you on the grounds of identity theft and/or fraud.

I would point once more to enforcement issues.

MCerberus:
This doesn't surprise me: just look at this picture of a senior Activision exec:

Is that why EA pulled off Steam and created their own service? Revenge for Lance and Chad?

Zachary Amaranth:
-snip-

For every gamer smart enough to do their bitching "anonymously", there's five stupid enough to do so out in the open in full view of the devs, gamer tag and all.

Yeah, you can't police every single person who does that, but Darwinism will deal with a number of them. Perhaps enough to help drive home the fact that freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences.

And the Facebook issue isn't likely to continue forever. With the hyper-sensitivity to things like Sandy Hook, we've been slowly creeping towards the possibility of greater governmental policing of social networking. Not to mention the number of laws they've tried to pass giving the government greater control over the content on the web. I think it's inevitable that this sort of thing will come to a head at some point, and the government will step in if the companies in charge don't. It's probably not a good thing, but the days of internet freedom are going to end soon enough if the current trends continue.

*shrug* Just my two cents.

CriticKitten:
For every gamer smart enough to do their bitching "anonymously", there's five stupid enough to do so out in the open in full view of the devs, gamer tag and all.

The problem I see is twofold: I don't believe the disparity is anywhere near that great, and people will learn fast. The moral here is less "threats are bad" and more "don't get caught," a lesson any bully knows.

And I honestly hope we never come to the point of government intervention. There's no reason Facebook/Twitter/whatever can't police themselves in terms of the minor stuff, and the authorities should be contacted anyway (if you really think there's a bomb threat going on, for example). I mean, if they don't do it, perhaps it will be necessary, but I find that sad.

I think the idea of a "time out" would be great, especially if it was instituted on social media and the like. I'm not entirely convinced we can impliment it in a way to actually effectively curb it, though.

Antari:

Church185:
Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

What they need to do is throw in a Pink texture patch for that gun for a while. Have it shooting bubbles or rainbows, and have it scream like a baby when it fires. Completely drive the idiot out of the game.

Public shaming, I like it. But only for those who deserve it, it wouldn't be fair to normal players. nerfing the actual gun further would kinda unbalance the game and you also punish non-dickwads who enjoy using it. Other than that, I'm all for giving these idiots a ban. if you go to a store or a restaurant and act like a complete nob, they're not only allowed but expected to refuse you service, I see no reason this should be any different.

Sorry, Activision, COD community is many things, but passionate is not one of them. Angry, troubled, psychotic, egocentric children - yes, passionate - no.

RicoADF:

Church185:
Honestly, when game devs receive threats for minor balance tweaks to a game, I think they should nerf that aspect of the game into oblivion for awhile. People getting riled up because their weapon fires .02 seconds slower? Make it the slowest firing weapon in the game for a couple months to throw off their play-style. Hurray for being spiteful!

You know that's the best solution I've heard off. Since the game is what matters so much to these idiots that's where you can hit them where it hurts. Problem is that could easily be exploited by people who want weapons nerfed.

Eh, it's not a perfect solution, but I bet it would make those devs feel better. I would probably get a laugh out of it too.

Agayek:
Something to keep in mind is that it may well be an expression of the Online Disinhibition Effect, otherwise known as the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

Generally reasonable people can turn into psychopaths when under the veil of anonymity and without a tangible risk of consequence. It's a sad fact of the internet and human nature. I'm not sure there's really a way to put a stop to it without destroying the basis of the internet.

And then people complained when YouTube attempted to merge YouTube accounts with Google+ accounts, so that real names, rather than aliases, appear next to a comment. There needs to be more accountability in stuff like this.

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