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The Argument Against Gamer Threats


Let’s face it: there are some terrible games out there, both past and present. The first generations had E.T. and Atari Pac-Man, my generation had Shaq Fu and Superman 64 and the current generation has Ride to Hell: Retribution and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Even with games that turn out decently, fans will can be dissatisfied with the results of their purchases. Their complaints take many forms, from forum and chat room rants or discussions, to write-in and online petitions or refund requests, even to the random lawsuit. Each of these complaints, of course, is judged on its own merits and validity. When complaints devolve into threats, however, these people have gone way too far.


Wrote most of the Orzammar NPCs. Everyone loves those Dwarves.

This editorial was inspired and comes a week after it was announced that Jennifer Hepler, a senior writer at BioWare, quit her job at the company to work freelance after receiving multiple death threats to herself and her children on internet forums, her Twitter account and by phone. Threatening the person was bad enough, but threatening her kids is so many kinds of wrong it was painful. You can read the article that turned me onto the story here, and then read the larger, more in-depth Polygon article here, where you will find the stories of threats to an Xbox Live policy enforcer, a Call of Duty designer and Phil Fish’s cancelation of Fez 2.


Guess Booker’s not the only one against baptisms.

Don’t get the wrong impression here, I understand and support the idea of Freedom of Speech. As a citizen of the United States, it is a guaranteed right, as it is in many countries around the world. On a gamer level, it allows us to voice our discontent with the games we pay our money for, suggest changes and calling out bad ideas. It also allows others to disagree with those statements. For example, it allowed Breen Malmberg to ask for a refund for offending his Christian values through a baptism scene early on, not allowing him to play most of the game. It also allows me (a Christian myself) to point out the irony that he sees a baptism (a common storytelling metaphor for change/rebirth as a person) as blasphamy but the copious amounts of murder, foul language and alcohol/tobacco use (all with corresponding Bible verses against them) is totally acceptable and unmentioned. But to the man’s credit, he wrote a respectful and well-worded request, and gave credit to Valve when they gave him a full refund.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Real gamers don’t complain about 0.2 sec, they work around it.

There is no protection when it comes threatening another person’s life. We don’t mean when you just got knifed in Call of Duty and you call out a player for your next Payback medal, we mean threats to the person. The player. First, it qualifies as a crime in many countries. Second, it’s a cowardly tactic to create change, as the internet allows most of these threats to be made anonymously. Finally, these threats are starting to come over some of the most insignificant changes. The previously mentioned Call of Duty death threats were sent in response to a slight (less than a second) increase to the reload times of three guns. Does that sound like a logical reason to scare a developer and tell them you’re going to kill them?


Watch the video first. Then use your brain. Judge on the facts.

What these people don’t realize is that these threats reflect on the gaming community as a whole. Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian is the most recent example. For those unaware, Sarkeesian’s Youtube-available series “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” apparently has a lot of male gamers upset. The series examines commonly recurring devices like the Damsel in Distress or the Disposable Woman, and presents their prevalence in video games. While there are some conclusions made that I disagree with, this series was researched by a someone with a MA in Social and Political Thought in addition to a philosophy (feminism) that I don’t particularly understand, but am beginning and willing to learn about. And it’s pretty educational as well. Meanwhile, she gets death threats and worse every day she continues her work, and that is uncalled for. Judge it on the research and the facts of the video, don’t make it a gender issue. I wonder if the same would happen if it was a man in the video, but I assume it wouldn’t.


Enemy Players: the only threat a gamer should ever have to deal in.

It’s safe to assume the threats, harassment and general lack of manners will continue. It sadly seems to be a part of the culture, at least for now. Attitudes have definitely started changing, though, as support for the victims of these threats are more and more pronounced on social networking sites. Non-video game sites are starting to carry stories about these kinds of threats. Even more importantly, companies like Twitter and Facebook are starting to review their policies to prevent, cease or even prevent this kind of behavior in the future. There are more effective ways to deal with being upset or even furious at games and the ones who make them, and people need to realize that. Until then, I’ll keep retweeting these stories so people see the wrongs being done, and someday we’ll look at gamer threats like the raffle scene in Bioshock Infinite: unacceptable and wrong in our time.


About RedGuinness

Andrew Shortall (RedGuinness) is the Writer, Editor, Administrator and founder of Stay-At-Home Gaming. He also suffers from sleepless nights, summer new release withdrawals and trying to behave himself in front of his new nephew.

6 comments on “The Argument Against Gamer Threats

  1. MissRhiosace
    August 29, 2013

    Stuff like this worries me. Threats worry me. In the sense that, it almost makes other people who wouldn’t normally get angry, get angry.
    I used to play as part of a Call of Duty clan. There were quite a few “Ragers” in the clan, they were all younger than me, and it just seemed to be the done thing to Rage about anything and everything. Lag, connection, getting shot by someone better than you means they are lag switching, or modding, or cheating. Thing is, it’s all like mob mentality. I found myself getting annoyed with everything, just because I was around these people. I quit the clan, joined another one for 30+ year old gamers. Raging is rare now amongst these, and usually when they do, it’s funny, not offensive. Taking each others tags on BF3 etc.
    I find the same is true of twitter and the internet. One person threatens Vonderhaar, and then it’s almost as if the first tweet, makes everyone come out from under their rocks, and they become angry too, because someone else has.

    Personally, if a game makes you that angry, you shouldn’t be playing that particular video game at all. Usually people get angry because something is wrong in their lives, and they take out their anger on the change in reload speed instead of the thing they are actually annoyed about.
    I try hard not to read YouTube comments, and I find the same is true of certain YouTubers, they almost encourage hatred towards other gamers, or the developers. Not all of them do it, but enough of the “big ones” do, to encourage others.

    • RedGuinness
      August 29, 2013

      I can understand frustration in a game and even voicing it. I don’t get how it goes from being pissed to threatening people’s lives. Like you said, people who are angry with a game make the choice to play them, and it seems to be a bad choice if death threats come of it.
      The mob mentality thing is pretty scary stuff. It’s one thing if it functions to create a dialogue, even heated, about the issues a person or players have, but death threats? That’s the kind of thing people should recognize as a step over the line when it is seen, not something to be compounded with more threats.

      • MissRhiosace
        August 29, 2013

        That’s the thing isn’t it. One day it’s whinging when someone quick scopes you, and the next it’s giving Vonderhaar spam tweets because you’re so angry about the quick scoping, so he changes the reload speed and cock back of the guns so quickscoping becomes more difficult, which then causes death threats. It’s like a forest fire, it starts with a normal bit of rage, but soon ends out of control.
        That’s scary.
        I’ve lost count at the amount of times that I’ve thought, “You’ve crossed the line”. I expect a normal bit of rage, but being blatantly bullied or picked on is not what I call fun. I’ve played poker where banter is so like part of the game, and I’ve still found some Call of Duty lobbies totally unacceptable.

      • RedGuinness
        August 29, 2013

        Love Poker. What makes trash talk in Poker acceptable is a sense of familiarity with the players, knowing what’s acceptable to them and accountability for one’s own words. Of course that applies only to playing in person.
        The Internet affords an opportunity for anonymity that empowers people to do these kind of things. I guarantee you if a person had to post under their real names we’d see far less of this kind of behavior.

  2. Pingback: Tom wilson makes up fake death threats against me. Pathetic excuse for an Anti-Gaming Mogul! | Debunking Utter Nonsense...

  3. Pingback: Rated PP for Please Parent: A Retail Employee’s Rant about Parents Buying Video Games | Stay-At-Home Gaming

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2013 by in Editorial, Gaming Non-Fiction and tagged , , , , , , .

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