When it comes to the computing gaming industry and communications, there’s a very sorry picture lying before us in 2015. The industry as a whole has an extremely immature reputation and this applies to gamers, gaming publications, gaming journalists and game developers. There’s a toxic pile of cack in front of them that far too many are happy to pour oil onto the fire of.
The industry as a whole could do far worse than to take a step back and look at how Linden Lab have approached community relationships over the years. Linden Lab have certainly not always got it right, indeed at times they have got it very wrong, the communication blackout being one glaring example. However at no point in the history of Second Life have I ever witnessed anything close to the sorry state that the computer gaming industry currently finds itself in.
There was a time when the official forums were far more vitriolic. Office hours inworld could get vitriolic.The Jira could get vitriolic and of course the blog post comments could get vitriolic. Linden Lab cut off some of those vitriolic sources by removing those communication channels. That wasn’t the smartest move and in some cases it appeared as if Linden Lab were burying their heads in the sand. Recently Linden Lab have vastly improved their communications, brought back some of those communication channels, engaged with their community and it’s working well.
Ok when Rod Humble was interviewed by Draxtor Despres he was quoted as saying :
I come from gaming communities, where I was running a gaming community, I received three death threats in a day! I’ve never received three death threats in a day from Second Life users, I’ve only received only one death threat here. And that was from a guy who got banned, you know, he was angry.
We shouldn’t make light of death threats but I think this puts into context some of the levels of vitriol that have been around. When Second Life did receive vitriolic comments they were more measured than what we see in the computer gaming industry. When I was more of a git in the forums, blog posts and office hours, the idea of threatening en employee would never have been on my or pretty much anyone else’s radar.
I used to point out in the Second Life forums that the levels of vitriol were tame compared to other forums. This tells me two things, one that I’d accepted that vitriolic behaviour was something of a norm and two, that I thought the level of vitriol aimed at Linden Lab was at an acceptable level. As I’ve aged, I’m puzzled as to why I accepted this behaviour as being part and parcel of online communities.
However Linden Lab largely continued to engage, to talk, to try and work around the noise. As I’ve said, sometimes they took extreme measures, but Linden Lab’s employees in public remained professional, courteous and engaging. That’s not something you could say about the computer gaming industry.