Flappy Bird Reveals the Truth in Gaming

There's a sad state of affairs that the rise and fall of Flappy Bird and its creator, Dong Nguyen, has revealed to the world these past few weeks. The game industry has an inherent problem that many are aware of, but one that nobody seems to be talking about. Most call it trolling, but it often goes far beyond that. Recent events have made this realization painfully clear to more than just the select few to have published a game.

Flappy Bird Death Threats

A few of the many Tweets to Dong Nguyen.

Many have been shocked by the level of hatred and death threats that the Flappy Bird developer has received, but the sad truth is that this is nothing new. Unfortunately, it has become an accepted fact that you simply have to put up with this behavior if you want to make games. It doesn't matter what kind of games or who you target, the waves of trolls will follow.

In our own experience as a small indie studio (with nowhere near the reach that Flappy Bird achieved), we see all sorts of nastiness directed our way on nearly a daily basis. The sad thing is that developers are often told to just "ignore it." This works to an extent, but developers are human too, and it is hard not to read these things. You wake up in the morning, energized and ready to work on your dream game, and by lunchtime you begin to question if the long hours are really worth it. We know how you feel, Dong, you aren't alone in the fight.

GoldFire Trolls

A few recent e-mails received, the juiciest of which generally don't survive the delete button. These are directed at CasinoRPG.

But does it really have to be that way? Are these the norms in other industries and not just games? Sure, you'll have your occasional troll anywhere you go, but from my decade-plus experience as a game developer, things get taken to a whole new level in this arena.

To make matters worse, my experience has shown that things are getting worse, not better. Maybe this is just a side-effect of a growing market, or maybe it is due to the unchecked nature of this phenomenon. It isn't even relegated to the developers anymore. Just being associated with game development as a member of the media can cause harassment to be hurled your way.

Kotaku Troll

E-mail to Jason Schreier of Kotaku, via this Tweet.

Remember, these are games we are talking about. They are created for the enjoyment of others through the impassioned work of artists. Instead of bringing about joy; however, they bring about hatred. And, far too often, these artists simply give up on their dreams and leave the industry altogether. The cruel anonymity of the internet and the trolls that populate it become the victors. Has humanity become so twisted that this is the new normal? For all our sakes, I surely hope not.

So, what do you think? Can this be fixed, or do we just have to suck it up and live with the fact that the game industry is forever associated with hatred and general nastiness towards other human beings?