Not sure these fractions of seconds are worth the threats of violence. +— David Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) July 23, 2013
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.”