“They’ll eat you”

Published on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 By Brad Wardell In Blogging

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He is referring to “GamerGate”.  Now, full disclosure, as a game developer, I don’t even consider it possible to be part of GamerGate.  Historically, the games media was there to protect consumers from evil, greedy bastards like me.  But at some point in the past few years, some of them decided they really didn’t like gamers.  I find it odd. It’s like a sports reporter not liking the fans of the sport he reports on.  Finding this situation odd makes me “part of a hate group”. But I digress.

Being eaten

The experiment of being eaten by a hate group has already been performed.  Let me walk you through the experiment:

Women in gaming

In 2006, Stardock released Galactic Civilizations II, its third game mostly developed by a female game developer at Stardock (GalCiv I, GalCiv II and LightWeight Ninja).  She was the lead on it because she was the best at it. Her gender had nothing to do with it. 

The media didn’t seem very interested in covering the fact that the #1 highest rated space 4X game in history (and btw, STILL the #1 space 4X according to Metacritic) was mostly programmed by a woman at the time.  And I would argue, why should they? In my experience, women code just as well as men.

Go ahead to Metacritic.com and see if there are any games above GalCiv II that were primarily programmed by a woman. Go ahead. I’ll wait. BTW, if you liked Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes the plurality of it was written by a woman too, a different one. How about its amazing random map generation? Also a woman. Yet a different one.

The lack of acknowledgement of this isn’t a bad thing because we shouldn’t give coverage to things based on who made them but rather based on the merits of the game. But then again, apparently me believing this makes me part of a hate group.  

The point is, for 20 years, simply by not discriminating other than on talent and hard work, we’ve been a destination for a number of talented female game developers and artists.

Copy protection

We also were pretty outspoken in our contempt for copy protection on games. I don’t like paying customers being inconvenienced and we got a lot of coverage for this. 

Gamers Bill of Rights

We also came up with http://gamersbillofrights.org/ because many games at the time were being shipped that wouldn’t even work on people’s machines (remember Star Force?). The idea was that people should be able to get their money back if the game doesn’t work for them.

Point being, we were very vocally and unapologetically pro-consumer as a business model.  We believe it’s good business to treat your customers fairly.

Elemental

This was the first time I saw our openness used against us.  We made a game that was buggy on release. We didn’t realize it was buggy on release. In fact, so certain we were of its readiness that we released it early to those in the beta program.  We messed up.  So we gave the subsequent two games in the series to players for free to people who have pre-ordered it and gave refunds to those who bought it after who had technical difficulties with it. 

Again: treating your customers well and rewarding them for their loyalty is a long-term smart business decision.

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The hate group eats you

So at this point, we had worked hard to establish ourselves as a forward thinking, fair minded, honest, transparent company that didn’t just talk the good talk about creating a good work environment for people of all sexes, races, orientations but we were walking the walk.

It didn’t matter

One day in 2012, a young woman sued us for hostile work environment, battery, sexual harassment.  When we didn’t pay her off, she and her lawyered talked to the press. Anyone who looked at the details honestly knew it was ridiculous. But it didn’t matter. 15 years of good deeds and being painfully honest publicly meant nothing.  Even though I publicly stated, early on, that we did nothing wrong and that the claims were frivolous we didn’t get even the slightest benefit of the doubt from the so called “social justice warriors”.

Instead, I was subjected to two years of hell. And even after we won the case and the plaintiff issued a public apology, we still have people who consider the mere allegation to be enough to undo decades of actual deeds in support of women in game development and providing a good working environment.  None of that mattered.

And you want to talk about death threats? Try getting ones that include a picture taken by someone from the street in front of your house with an explicit promise to sodomize your child.  My crime? Oh that’s right, being falsely accused of sexual harassment. That’s all it took.

And people wonder why I have such a militant attitude. 

So you tell me, who’s the hate group?

Update:

Ever noticed no one brings up the “battery” part when they discuss that lawsuit? That’s because that was so absurd that no one would even mention it because it was so credibility destroying. And they were right. But by not mentioning the “battery” charge they didn’t give the full story. Imagine how people would have viewed the credibility of the suit if were were accused of “battery. I suspect people would have taken the whole thing with a few grains of salt.