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We Need to Stop Being Toxic to Video Game Developers, With the Exception of Bobby Kotick

You’d think in the hellscape we live in, fans might be excited by a new Monkey Island game directed by Ron Gilbert. And they were! Most of them. Almost all of them. But not enough of them, because some fans decided that the artstyle wasn’t to their liking. And as is always the case in video games, those folks were really normal about it and decided to endlessly attack the series’ original creator until he decided to stop posting about the game entirely.

Which is sad. Because there’s no reason to harass or insult developers.

Unless they’re Bobby Kotick. Then it’s okay.

Like them or not, video game developers have an extraordinarily difficult job. Even the smallest indie game takes thousands of hours to craft; even the biggest triple-A games suffer under tight budgets and tighter deadlines. Sure, it’s disappointing when you’ve paid for a game that lets you down or a series is ‘ruined’ by a choice you don’t like. It’s understandable you’d be mad. But you have to remember that, with the exception of Bobby Kotick, these developers are real human beings with real feelings.

Now, let’s be clear: There is a difference between criticism and an attack. It’s fair to criticize a game for promised features that fail to deliver. Heck, it’s even fair to criticize an artstyle you don’t like. But developers don’t make these choices to piss you off. When fans flood a developer’s feed and forums and inbox with accusations, a valid criticism becomes a wave of hate. And nobody deserves that, outside of the CEO of Activision Blizzard who has made billions while overseeing a company that systematically replaced the joy in its titles with loot boxes.

It’s disappointing that harassing game developers has become the norm. Even legendary figures such as Masahiro Sakurai have felt harassed over decisions. And that’s Sakurai we’re talking about! The man created Kirby and Smash! Unlike Bobby Kotick, who hasn’t really contributed to games but has contributed to a culture within games that permits intense sexual harassment and discrimination with no real consequences.

It’s not like developers enjoy cutting features or having to delay their games. We know the next God of War will almost definitely be good – and we know that because developers such as Cory Barlog are laser-focused on making the best experience possible. There’s no reason to harass him, because he’s not Bobby Kotick. Bobby Kotick isn’t even a real developer; he just collects money and makes decisions that crush the lives of the actual creative people. Eight hundred of which he once laid off at the same time as Activision announced record profits.

Making a developer’s life a living hell may feel satisfying in the moment, but it’s an empty gesture unless it’s directed toward Bobby Kotick. Writing that someone’s a sell-out because of an art style is ridiculous. Especially when Bobby Kotick would throw his own mother under a bus if it meant making five more dollars. Screaming at a developer as a gag because he wouldn’t include a meme character is dumb. Scream at Bobby Kotick, whose sterling leadership allowed Bill Cosby-themed conference rooms. Don’t flame someone for a delay. Flame Bobby Kotick because he runs a company that absolved itself of wrongdoing and was like, “Well, solved that.”

There is already enough hate in this world, except when directed at Bobby Kotick. We’re already so divided, even though we should be united in making every moment Bobby Kotick spends outside his home a nightmare. We shouldn’t be adding more negativity to this toxic landscape, unless that negativity is directed by a dude who looks and acts like the third Weinstein brother.

Then it’s okay.

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