On Developer Worship and the Death of My Inner Fangirl

When I was a teenager, my life revolved around music and the popular bands of the moment. This is going to date me a bit, but my big “crush” band was Duran Duran. I knew everything about them. Their birthdays, their height, where they were born; it was almost as if this information was more important than the music they actually produced. I had posters of them everywhere. I was desperate for every scrap of news or photo I could get of them. I was a total fangirl!

Flash forward to present day. Muse is my one of my favorite bands ever. I know little to nothing about them. I know of Matt Bellamy, I think one of the band member’s names is Dominic. I couldn’t tell you when they were born, where they were born (except the UK), and I probably wouldn’t recognize one of them on the street if I were to pass them. I don’t know their personal opinions on politics (except in song), equal rights, religion, or society as a whole. I only know that I love their music, their lyrics, and their melodies. That music strikes a chord within me that makes these other aspects unimportant.

It therefore puzzles me greatly how we, as a gaming community, have elevated our game developers to celebrity status. We treat them like rock stars, and we’re their adoring fans. Who are these people that so many of us should hang on their every word? Why should anyone be excited if they get a mention from one on Twitter? And why would we expect their words, whether through social media or in an interview, to be anything other than their personal opinion and thus they are entitled to it?

To me, these game developers are not celebrities. They’re employees. They work for a company. They get their paychecks with taxes and Medicare taken out just like everyone else. They get in to work in the morning and have to deal with their email inbox just like you and I. They are people. Just regular ol’ people working a J-O-B. And just like regular ol’ people, they have their own opinions about their job, the games they work on, and life in general.

Should it be a surprise when one of them makes a gaffe that implies that somehow their employer feels the same way as the employee? No. It’s to be expected. They’re not public relations people, they’re game developers. Dealing with the public is not their calling. And their word is not gospel. The owners and shareholders of their company have the final word. And that word will be issued in a carefully prepared press release, like any other company. One developer’s interview or tweet does not equate an entire company’s viewpoint. While it could be argued that it’s indicative of a systemic problem, it does not mean that every employee, manager, executive, owner, or shareholder of that company feels the same way.

We all know the latest controversy surrounding Blizzard, and from whence it came. There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not this employee’s words were taken out of context or twisted to fit an agenda. That’s not what I’m looking to solve here. I just want to remind you all to take one man’s word with a grain of salt. He’s just one person. He wasn’t reading a prepared press release; it was just him, shooting off the cuff. His audience has made him more important than he needs to be, and thus his words held greater weight than they deserved.

What we should all remember is how these games make us feel when we play them. The content and its immersive fantasy world is what compelled us to play to begin with. What do these games touch within us? By and large, we’ve all enjoyed Blizzard games for years. There may be reasons why we decide that these games are no longer for us: lack of content, repetitiveness, other hobbies, real life, or the feeling that the game doesn’t reflect our society as we see it. But don’t let one employee’s remarks change how you view something that once gave you pleasure. He’s just a guy. A regular ol’ guy, like the rest of us.

 

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Gaming, World of Warcraft and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Not sure I agree. Firstly, this is coming from top brass of Blizzard. So yeah, he is well versed in PR and doesn’t just rant off the cuff whenever he feels like it. Top Brass dont to that, especially since their opinions can affect their stock, and their shareholder’s stock.

    This might be a regular old guy like the rest of us, but he IS in creative control of a world that people have put actual years into playing. I mean /played type of years. People have experienced life through this world that THEY created, therefore I think it’s safe to say that something the Chief of Creative says should carry weight.

    Therefore, this is a world we live in for a major part of our lives, and it’s “direction” is dictated by a bunch of male gamers with really no female representation to be spoken of. Pardo’s reasoning is that he doesn’t get the applications from female game devs. Not sure I fully believe that, from my developer experience. Therefore, we just “live with it” and not have any say in the environment we spend so much time in? I don’t think that’s acceptable.

    • I respect your opinion, but I would disagree that “Top Brass” would not make mistakes in either speech or decision making. There are enough corporate scandals that float around to bear out that point.

      I personally work and participate in organizations that are male dominated. Getting ahead and earning respect from this type of environment is not easy for any woman. I recently heard Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist from Cal Tech, deliver a speech at a womens conference in which she stated that women are still discouraged, even by their professors, from pursuing some traditionally male professions, such as the sciences. Based on this, I do believe it’s possible that Pardo’s assertion of not receiving the resumes is genuine. It’s possible.

      Let me close with a quick story: I’m elected as a Director for my labor union. Out of 9 directors, only 2 women. We’re the only two that have run in recent history. Why aren’t there more that have even tried? This is a question I ask myself as I try to encourage my female colleagues to volunteer, like I did. What’s the answer? I don’t know.

  2. I tend to agree with you in regard to the use of Twitter as a means for the developers to communicate with the general public – I think this was a huge mistake on Blizzard’s part because of all of the controversy that has stemmed from it’s use. One or two words can be twisted in such a manner that the entire conversation, albeit it insignificant, can cause a lot of trouble.

    I refuse to use Twitter to get my information, if it doesn’t appear on the forums, I’ll stay in the dark until it hits the game. No, I don’t worship the developers, they can be “changed” in the blink of an eye if they are perceived to be misrepresenting the company that they work for.

    • I’m pretty much the same way. I wait for blue posts and patch notes. There isn’t enough time in the day to get involved in discussions that end up being purely academic. And I agree wholeheartedly about the use of Twitter and other social media by these employees. Most of us are scared to death to be caught talking about our jobs on Twitter for fear of saying something wrong. Turning these guys loose in the first place is fraught with danger for Blizzard.

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