Mrs. Streisand, we’re ready for your close-up
Late last year, famed reviewer and internet personality Jim Sterling played Slaughtering Grounds. Long story short, he didn’t like it. As a developer, it’s time to calmly move on and focus on positive reviews, and fixing the game. Or at least, not go completely batshit insane, right? Wrong.
For whatever reason, developer ImminentUprising used this as an opportunity to take Jim to task personally because he was “ruining their sales.” DMCA takedowns on his video? Check. A mass deletion of threads on the Steam community forum? Check. A really weird and borderline creepy response video? Gurl you know it.
ImminentUprising even went so far as to create a fake contest telling people they could win a free game key if they talk trash on the game in their forums — users they promptly banned directly after. They’re still bitter about it even today, after they completely failed to silence Jim and other critics, as they’ve crafted a “Troll” Steam trading card this month that is supposed to look just like Sterling.
You wouldn’t believe the lengths that some developers go through to silence critics. Hell, we even dealt with it a few times over the years, when the creative director of Hydrophobia called up our own Samit Sarkar and “demanded” to talk to Jim. To silence criticism and user content on the internet is a tall order in and of itself, but the issue really highlights a problem with the industry — communication, and how bad some people are at it.
This is why most developers, even indies, have some form of PR. It’s a sticky situation indeed, because it often leads to an avenue of false promises, hype, and stone-walling. In a perfect world it would be nice if we even occasionally had access to everyone’s real, raw thoughts. Some of my favorite actors include those who don’t filter their statements behind a veil of PR-speak, and openly engage with the public like a real human being. Or at least, have the appearance of doing so, which gives me even a minimal amount of comfort compared to some of the drone-like responses we usually get.
But in many cases, especially in the case of game development, select individuals don’t think before they talk, and act impulsively at every turn. We’re all individuals here, so there’s no magic bullet solution or a “right answer” on how to govern human thought. There is, however, one bit of invaluable advice from former NFL coach Herm Edwards. If you’re thinking about making a hasty statement in anger, actually think about it first, and “don’t press send.”
Oh, and don’t try to censor the Internet. I’ve played your game, it’s bad, move on.