There has been an awful lot of discussion about positivity and developer / community / press relationships lately. This isn't anything new, but a few recent events turned the spotlight on the subject, and I wanted to put something down here on the RB forums to get your feedback.
The first catalyst for this discussion was a set of Call of Duty: Black Ops II patch notes posted by David Vonderhaar, a Senior Designer with Treyarch. The details of the patch aren't as important as the response from the community, which resulted in a litany of insults and death threats. Our friend Dan Amrich, a notable community figure for Activision, posted this response entitled Editorial: Stop Threatening Game Developers.
The more recent story that prompted this post, is the news that Phil Fish of Polytron, the indie developer behind Fez, has announced the cancellation of Fez II in response to a recent argument with a game journalist who criticized his tone in interacting with members of the press and community. You can find more info on that exchange here, as well as excellent write ups from the press perspective, in the Polygon article by Chris Plante called Opinion: Someone Hates You On the Internet and in an especially personal write up from Patrick Klepeck at Giant Bomb entitled So, Fez II.
Finally, and most directly relevant to this community, I had a short discussion with Cipher about it on Twitter. He asked for my opinion, and I responded with a few specific thoughts about Phil Fish (which are honestly kind of irrelevant, since this whole conversation is much bigger than just one person) and a few comments on the larger topic of developer and community and press interactions. I said that I felt that the ideal, in my mind, isn't fighting the trolls and banning the trouble users and deleting all the goatse until there's no more negativity online (because that's just unrealistic)... the ideal is to build and support a community that is, by nature, more positive than it is negative, that doesn't tolerate the trolls, and that endeavors to drown out the lousy posts with good posts by a margin of 100 to 1.
Cipher asked if that was even possible in a large scale community. And I don't know! I think that we do a pretty good job here in RB, and in the Harmonix communities in general. We're far from troll free, and some channels still remain more toxic than others, but looking at where we are now compared to 5 years ago, I can see a vast improvement in attitude, relationships, tone, etc. Granted, I have a much broader top down view of the entire community than anyone else (including forums, PMs, emails, support tickets, Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, livestream chat, snail mail, phone calls, and live events in that stew... whew!), but it made me wonder what YOU in the community thought about things.
This isn't an issue that can ever be "solved". There will always be trolls, and negative posters, and people who get angry and don't know how to voice their frustrations in a rational and constructive way, but the same is true of the real world. So if it's not a thing that can be "fixed" what can we do to at least improve things for all involved? What do other communities do that you like? What would you like to see us do to improve the relationship with the community?
This whole thing, all these relationships with devs and press and community, is an ecosystem, and everything we do has an impact on everyone else. If devs are jerks, it encourages the community to be jerks. If the press holds up jerk devs, it encourages the community to look up to jerks. If devs are jerks to press, then it only makes it harder for the press to not treat us like jerks. So basically, the fastest shortcut to a more positive life is to follow Wheaton's Law, but I'd be really interested to hear what other people think about any of the specific examples above, about the RB / HMX community in particular, or about attitudes in gaming in general.