Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gamer Entitlement Going Too Far

Anyone who works in or even near the game industry is probably familiar with the phenomenon of entitlement - how people who play games feel they are entitled to rather a lot more things from a game than the game's developers, or legal terms of use, might actually reasonably expect.

This happens in other areas of life too of course, but for some reason computer game players seem to get particularly passionately attached to their games of choice, and can sometimes react unexpectedly strongly to the most minor things.  I've read feedback reports from my own game where people have said they're quitting the game over ridiculously tiny things - to give one example, because we changed the little picture that appeared on the coins in our game (graphics only even visible a tiny portion of the time).  I've read submitted feedback that compared the developers on my game to pedophiles, Saddam Hussein-followers, and much worse language too.  A week often doesn't go by without seeing someone in the feedback saying that at least some of us should be fired, are incompetent, could be replaced by a 3 year old, or clearly have no brains/sense/right to life.  And you need only stop by the discussion forums of pretty much any MMO to see similar passion is alive and well in discussions of most games.

I don't agree this is right, and although I understand how someone who loves a game can be so passionate about it, I think it's a misguided sense of entitlement that leads people to cross the line between politely stating an opinion or objection, and personal insults or even threats.  Happily, the majority of people who play the game I work on are generally polite and sane, despite a few apparent exceptions.  However, I read an article on Kotaku today that made me really fume about the misplaced sense of entitlement that some groups of gamers can develop, and somehow manage to justify:

Minecraft Apparently Under Siege

The gist of the article is that a group of players are disappointed at how slowly developer Notch is putting out updates to the small independent game Minecraft, and have decided to try to "force" him to work faster by launching a DDOS attack on the Minecraft servers.  Their thinking, apparently, is that if they prevent ANYBODY from playing Minecraft then Notch will lose money and have to do what they want.

From the article above, a post purportedly from the people responsible for the attack:
"It's purpose is to send Notch a clear message of how the future of minecraft will turn out unless he gets to work, namely by influencing the amount of sales taking place, due to the attacks.
Start providing your customers with the updates that you promise them.
We have roughly 83,000 bots available, and preserved for this seizure, we could if we wanted to keep this going for weeks, however we have decided to give it a week, and see whether or not your attitude, and commitment will change, we believe it will when money stops rolling in for the time being..."

I just haven't got the words for my disgust at this behaviour.  As a human being and democratic citizen, I resent some other group of people impinging upon my freedom of choice by deciding for me what I can and can't play and what I do and do not want. As a gamer who happens to be enjoying Minecraft, I am perfectly happy with the level of updates in Minecraft and I don't appreciate someone else telling me I should not be, let alone attempting to prevent my playing it.  And as a game developer, I am disgusted by the damage that this group is trying to do to a small, dedicated independent developer.  From what I've read, Notch is a very smart and talented programmer who has managed to create a really captivating game pretty much all on his own, and is trying to continue its development independently.  This is an accomplishment that many game designers can only dream of: the freedom to work for yourself, and do exactly what you want to create what you believe is the best game you can, without having to operate within the confines of a big corporate structure or team.  Notch has that dream within reach, he may become that one in a million game designer who is really able to be independent -- and a small, selfish group of individuals are trying to bring him down, just because as an independent developer he's not able to work as fast as they want him to?  Sickening.

The guys who are launching this attack have spent as much as anyone on Minecraft:  10 Euros (about US$13).  That's the cost of going to see a movie in the theatre ... less than you'd pay for a nice meal at a restaurant.  If they are that passionate about the game, then they've clearly already played it for many, many hours longer than a movie or a nice meal would have lasted.  There is no possible way they can justify their feeling of "entitlement" to more than they've already had.  They paid a very tiny price for days of enjoyment of an excellent game that they are well aware is still in alpha stage -- not even in beta.  This isn't the way to express their disappointment that updates aren't forthcoming as fast as they would want.  This is outright bullying, and it's inexcusable.  It's also illegal, and I hope they get their pathetic selves thrown in jail for it.

Acts like these make me lose faith in computer gamers.  :(

Edit to add: another great post on the topic, from @LivingWorlds.  In which he uses rather stronger language and discussion than I was comfortable using, but quite agree with.


  1. There's this tho:

    dunno how true that is...

  2. Best

    The attack on Notch is just utter stupidity! If I was Notch I would stop working on the game till the DDOS attacks were stopped, then the attackers don't get what they want!

  3. This is considered a terrorist attach and if Notch wants he can involve authorities. I hope he does because I want to see these people rot for what they are doing.

  4. That's pretty horrible stuff. I can't even wrap my head around the mindset of this behavior. =(

  5. I feel the sense of entitlement you are speaking of permeates most of our society these days and is not something in the gamer world alone. I think we are living in a time where people are rude, stressed, unhappy, and willing to threaten other people like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum over the tiniest of provocation. People want to be emotional terrorist these days and feel they have the right to be. I think it is a very sad state of the times we live in and a trend I refuse to be a part of. This was an exceptional blog and I really appreciated your insight.

  6. I put through my paypal transfer a few weeks ago and was trying to decide what to do, as I'm still not marked as a pay-for account. Under the circumstances, I think I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait a bit more. Thanks for this info!

  7. As I said on Kotaku, I hope the perpetrators are caught and spend a very long time in jail over a $14 game that isn't even in beta yet.

  8. The problem is Notch posted subscription numbers that let people figure out how much he has been making.

    If he had done what Toady has been doing with Dwarf Fortress (paypal donations) I doubt the DDoS would have happened. He also would not have made much money and would not have gotten to the point he could hire other people.

    I hope the botnet(s) used gets dismantled and the owners punished.

  9. We live in a time where people are impatient and only willing to put minimal effort into achieving things or even waiting it out, that is if they are willing at all.

    In their eyes, everything has to be done now and everything has to be perfect, even going to silly lengths, (like this), to retaliate if it doesn't go how they see it. I notice this a fair bit in WoW actually. As a long time WoW player, you tend to see how things have been made easier and easier to achieve and obtain as time goes on, purely because of these types of impatient people. And in terms of the retaliation, you only have to take a look at the tech forums should say the servers, god forbid, ever go down.

    I certainly agree with those who posted before me. They have to learn that there are ramifications to these silly actions.

  10. This sort of expectation management can be tricky. Well-designed games are structured to reward play in a satisfying way, so gamers may become conditioned to egotism and instant gratification. Add in the tendency towards youth of the gaming population, and you've got a potent behavioral mix. Doesn't excuse the lot from being trashy idiots...

  11. I've seen this type of entitlement from fans. For artists, writers, companies, it's all there and it's all sickening.

    There's an essay by Harlan Ellison called Xenogenesis. It's very illuminating, very saddening, and very very true.

    I admit I've had my own share of feelings of entitlement, of getting upset over changes. I've done my share of throwing bricks in the forums. I shouldn't do so. The passion for the game can be overwhelming at times, and that clouds judgement.

    But these fans have taken it too far. I do hope that information on them has been turned in to the proper authorities and they're stopped.

  12. I doubt this will benefit the Anonymous above, but I feel a need to post a link to one of Neil Gaimain's blog entries, which is about similar entitlement issues in the field of book authors.

    You can scroll down and start near the phrase: "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch"

  13. You changed what coins looked like? How dare you!


  14. Hasn't Notch made like a couple of million dollars by now? Seems to me then that the sensible course of action would be to halt *all* development on the game and go on a long vacation instead. With the amount of sales his game has gotten, I'm pretty sure he can afford to out-wait these morons.

  15. All this does is push independents into the arms of large publishers, who'll promise robust security (and more profits) in exchange for a "partnership".

  16. As a former customer service for a large game company, I can tell you that people (I would estimate about 1%) are complete douche bags. There are so many stories I can tell, I'd have to start my own blog just to list them. They range from humorous to outright stupid. They range from self-absorbed to mentally deficient. A lot (not all) are people who have no other marketable skills or social abilities so their only redeeming value is to act as armchair devs, or lore experts. They'll never understand until they develop their own game and get "pwn'd" by their peers (like they have the skills).

  17. Hi All, I totally agree with DOMINO's article and what others have said in response and just wanted to say that this kind of childish behavior (the DDOS attacks) reflect badly on the gamer community as a whole... we cop unwarranted flack from the media as it is we don't need to give them any real fuel for their fires. I am also concerned at the fact, if I am not mistaken, that they have made 83,000 innocent peoples computers their zombies to do their bidding which shows a blatant disrespect for people in general and this is also sickening and not the gamer community I have come to know thankfully.
    Notch has obviously done a great job and for all these script-kiddies know, has been preoccupied working his ass off preparing to bring out Major developments in the game. Notch should not have to 'wait it out' or be held to ransom. Games are already costly enough as it is and we need more indie devs. Anyway, to finish up, I am guessing Notch knows a few people who will be able to beat these kiddies at their own game. I certainly hope so anyway! Rock On Notch

  18. Perhaps a little off topic: What are your thoughts, and I am asking them legitimately, on a game like Civilization V wherein you purchase a DVD disc and have no choice but to play via a platform which just tells you the game is unavailable to play...for hours, days on end (they are making updates, I imagine). I am not that tech-savvy and did not understand that this is what would happen when I purchased the disc; and now I will never get my $60 back. When you are older and only have x amount of time to play per week it is annoying to have something you feel you own to play when you want withheld. Just seriously looking for another person's perspective on this.

  19. Really loved this post, very well done and I wholeheartedly agree- it's just a shame to see the depths to which people can stoop. No matter where we go there will always be assholes. It's an unfortunate part of human behavior- some people just can't help but be jerks. However, I do take some solace in knowing that Minecraft has sold many copies, to thousands of people (I'm not sure of the exact number but it is quite popular) and the people behind this kind of shitty act are a very small subset of that community. Most of us are honest people who paid our money and are happy with the game as it is and the service we've received from its developer. The silent majority is silent because they see no reason to complain. It's still a shame to think that a select few can ruin everything for all of us and sadly this is nothing new.

  20. I bet they were American. British people (like me) won't even complain under the worst treatment. The furthest we go when we are angry is leaving polite letters of disgust.

    But yeah. Shame on them. It is basically terrorism against somebody who's provided them with something they obviously love for a very minuscule price. Kinda reminds me of the movie Misery although without the kidnapping or the sledgehammer to the legs...

  21. It's hard for me to dislike someone who takes things into their own hands.

  22. Just to put this attack into perspective, this came while Notch was actively working on the largest update Minecraft has possibly ever seen, adding new enemies, new environments, and even portals to parallel dimensions. He announced it some weeks ago, and it is due for launch on the 31st.

    Apparently he has now had less time to work on the update, so there's only new new enemy type confirmed, because he wasted a couple of days setting up DDoS protection on his servers.

    So, the attack supposedly designed to make him work faster on updates has slowed the development on updates. Will they launch another attack to punish him for slowing down due to their own actions? Probably, knowing just how stupid these people can be.

  23. This is the internet, so (sadly) I'm not too surprised at their behaviour. The internet democratises a lot of things, but it also amplifies behaviour. I'm sure if Notch worked in a shop and you had to purchase a physical copy of Minecraft, people wouldn't be treating him like this.

    I think the money he's made does have something to do with the reaction, but that's more a reflection of the other people, not Notch. Some people don't much like success. Notch didn't have to reveal anything about his download and conversion figures -- he was very open with the information and I'm sure other indie devs found it useful. Unfortunately certain others may be using it as a stick to beat him.

    The cost of Minecraft is what most people will spend in the pub in a couple of hours. Dumb people need to get a sense of perspective...

  24. And the moral of the story is: don't build a fan base off of 4chan.

  25. >Acts like these make me lose faith in computer gamers. :(

    Right, because crabby spergs represent every single facet of people who use computers to play games. That's like saying Heavy Rain players have made all people with PS3s look bad.

  26. While I will never stereotype a group of people as a collective as I feel it's wrong, it did not suprise me to see behaviour like this from 4chan users.

    And as mentioned previously, attacking Notch seems to be a tad counterproductive. In his shoes, I would be much more inclined to protect myself from further attacks than bow to the demands of a complete stranger.

  27. Its sad to see people like that on forums, unfortunately they do appear in games too, and in real life. When I used to work part time in retail I figured out though that I could let the 1 in 100 person get to me and spoil my day, or just ignore them.

    So for those that call for people to be fired (guess they haven't experienced it or having a job themselves!), insult others or just show a lack of ability to express themselves without referring to their genitals every other word they just need to be ignored for a few years. Afterall its not like they will suddenly overnight start talking sense.

    As for the Minecraft denial of service attacks, that's weird.

    These people cannot play while the game is offline too, no doubt I guess he's promised more then he can do solo, but if the game doesn't impress then people can choose to play something else.

    Maybe I should be wearing a tinfoil hat, but this 83k botnet and the way its targetting the pay servers makes me think its a rival company as much behind it.

    Afterall a lot of these F2P games came from (or still have at their core) Chinese gold farming operations (like that Civilisation ripoff), and that sort of operation normally has access to keyloggers etc needed to set that sort of thing up.

    Either way I'd certainly like to see the people responsible locked away, my suspicion though is that the botnet consists of unsuspecting users effectively with viruses.

    All in all though please don't let the moron's spoil your day, I've been enjoying everything you've brought to the tradeskilling game in EQ2 the past few years and hope to continue :)