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Sending death threats to the developers. - Issue #2

Games, Politics & Labor
What do you do when the game you have been waiting for doesn’t look like the way you have imagined? How do you feel when a game you have pre-ordered doesn’t live up to its expectations? Do you sue the company? Do you go and trash the game on online forums? Or do you send death threats to the developers?

🤔 Imagine the following scenario: you are excited about this game launching in a couple of days. You have pre-ordered it and can’t stop talking about how great it will be. Moment by moment you get more impatient, cannot waiting to get your hands on this game. When the day comes, you load it up, move around the world a bit and the game crashes.
You have just experienced a bug - a malfunction in the code of the software/game - but the more you explore the world for which you have paid $60/$70, the more bugs you encounter. At first, you fall through the map, then you get killed in one-shot by a weaker enemy, and after one hour of playtime, the game crashes and you need to restart it.
😔 Regardless of how much you have been waiting for this game to come out, you cannot stop yourself from looking at least a bit disappointed at the final product. At a big game show, one year prior to the launch, they have advertised something completely different from what you are playing right now. You are feeling tricked and start wondering if you could have spent your money better. At the end of the day, those are $60/$70 - the price of a new game coming from a well-established big company.
… If you have played video games that were buggy, you know what I am talking about here, and you might have experienced disappointment. An instinct we all have is to criticise the company or sometimes even the developers for putting out something like this. Due to the high expectations we have had for the game, we might rush and start throwing attacks at the developers for doing such a poor job.
It is the easiest way to do it like this, when we do not know how video games are produced, how labor is divided and who actually has the power to push that released button. Is it really the developers? Would they want to put out a bad looking game?
Cyberpunk Fans attacking the developers or loving the company Source: Reddit
Cyberpunk Fans attacking the developers or loving the company Source: Reddit
😡 When Cyberpunk 2077 (a dystopian game developed by CD Projekt RED) was released, it provoked a wave of anger amongst the fans who have had high expectations for the title. On older platforms, it was almost impossible to play, and the bugs were so prevalent that the game felt half-finished, or even lacking a core.
For some who have had high expectations, that moment when they saw how different the game looked compared to what the company advertised previously, represented an act of betrayal. The fans put in their trust, the money, and the time, while the game proved to be not even close to what they have expected. Some of those fans took to Twitter to complain about the bugs, and to target developers. Some even issued death threats against the developers - something they have previously done when Cyberpunk 2077 was postponed.
In 2019, an Infinity Ward developer broke silence about the death threats he wa getting from people in his private messages. Over the years, Treyarch developers have also received numerous death threats for the work they have put into various Call of Duty games.
Sending death threats is not restricted only to developers working on more adult-oriented video games which include elements of shooting guns, killing people, etc. Even developers that worked on Pokemon games have received threats.
Cyberpunk Devs while witnessing how much people dislike bugs. Source: Reddit
Cyberpunk Devs while witnessing how much people dislike bugs. Source: Reddit
In order to better understand the origin of the death threats, we must start asking some questions regarding the development/production of video games. It must be noted that discontent is not always expressed in the form of a threat. Quite often, people might not say anything publicly about the game, and might just stop playing it or talk badly about it to their friends. In other cases, they might send e-mails to the company complaining about bugs, go on online rating forums and describe their experience. Yet, sometimes, the developers are the ones attacked due to a lack of understanding of how video games are produced. PLOT TWIST: Developers have less power than we might think they have. Yesterday, while talking to a friend, they told me that they wish the world knew more about how developers work to deliver those products.
This apparent cognitive failure of gamers to acknowledge the contribution of game developers to our overall well-being is only brought to the fore on rare occasions, when the people behind our gaming pleasure see no option but to go public with their sentiment of systemic discontent. - Gamespot
Quite often we get our hands on the video game, play it, enjoy it or completely dislike it, and ignore the way it was produced. We often think that we are entitled to a high-quality product, and when we are disappointed - just like the Cyberpunk 2077 fans - we tend to look for someone to blame.
Due to our lack of understanding of the complexity of producing video games, we target those that are more in handy - we all know that there are developers who develop video games. What we miss is that corporate interests are stronger than a developer’s desire to create a masterpiece.
💰Video games are just another product of the capitalist system in which we all live. Profit dominates the video games industry, as much as it does in any other industry. A car mechanic loves to tinker with the engine, the distribution, and would love to spend as much time as they need to do it perfectly, but the pressure from the financiers or from the people who own the mechanic shop are stronger, forcing him to adapt.
The mechanic must adapt to a schedule that quite often he hasn’t made, must adapt to changes that were made overnight - just because someone at the corporate level wanted them - and must prepare for his expertise to come second to money. Despite the developer saying that they might need some time, the stakeholders in the company pressure the game to be released sooner, so that they meet their targets, profit, and invest more of that, in order to make more money.
But many of us are not aware about those production aspects, and often think that working inside the video game industry milk and honey. On the contrary, the industry is getting more corporate day by day, and the influence of the big money seems to dominate over the craft of creating a video game.
When a game is buggy, do not blame the developer. They usually are worked overtime, their game is changed overnight because someone wishes to, and they do not have the guarantee that their job will be available tomorrow. About that, later on.
🐸 My favorite Cyberpunk 2077 bugs
🦭 What to read?
The Romanian mothball
If you describe your works as ”content”, you have absolutely no leg to stand on talking about piracy. Positively shameful.
🇷🇴 Roooooooooooomania
The perfect romantic story: boy with long-curly hair, sits on a bench at night with a blonde girl, on a boulevard where no one really walks. We share two ice-creams and sit for a conversation which we both seem to enjoy: cats, Romanian celebrities and childbirth.
I finish my ice-cream, she finishes her line and all of a sudden I ask her if she has been following what has been happening in Romanian politics. The moment she said no, I swear, I went into a long explanation (which was also interactive) about the fragile state of democracy in Romania and how the People’s Advocate was revoked by the current government who wishes to privatise healthcare.
The current Government doesn’t need people critical of its hegemonic rule, doesn’t need anyone to tell them that their reforms and emergency ordinances (a form of law that can be passed by the Government without having to go through the Parliament for a couple of months) hurt the common folk. Let’s not forget the attacks on the press, the unions, etc.
We went on a conversation, bouncing back ideas from one to another, and once again I couldn’t notice the disappointment we have in politics and the political class. Sometimes I wish we would just join en mass the parties, and do politics. But living in the frail world in which we live, in which a political statement can be a death sentence ( we would look more at this in the video games industry ), we must be careful. Not careful to thrive and build palaces, but careful to get a job that pays decent so we can get a loan, to get an apartment. Basically survive.
Welcome to capitalism. Oh, in the video games industry, it is the same. The people at the top drive Porsches, the overworked developers… well… they get anxiety?
See you soon
P.S.: the date went even better with politics! Cats and politics go hand in hand 😂
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Radu Stochita
Radu Stochita

Newsletter following the research process for my Honors Thesis which aims to understand the labor relations inside the video games industry.
Writing once a week (at least) about working inside the video game industry, the politics of games and their relationship to society.

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