Hearthstone Devs Want to Be More Open, But Are Worried About Harrasment

Steven Bogos

The Taco Man
Jan 17, 2013
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Hearthstone Devs Want to Be More Open, But Are Worried About Harrasment

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Hearthstone game director Ben Brode says that developers would like to be more public-facing, but have concerns about harassment.

If you're wondering why Hearthstone's designer insights [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhPfoIs2ZAI&list=PLEFn_PVNSM6gEU7c_CB2FUm0EyDsMrAO4&index=1] videos seem to focus quite a bit on game director Ben Brode and senior producer Yong Woo, fear of online harassment is one of the key reasons.

"I love doing videos, and I think I can convince more of the team to get involved, so it's not just me," Brode wrote on Reddit [https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/5laf2z/yong_woo_on_more_designer_insights/dbuaf0n/]. However, he added that "Not everyone is as excited about being a public face as [senior producer] Yong [Woo] and I are, though-there is a lot of harassment that comes with being more public."

Online harassment is really no joke these days - especially when you work with a game as huge as Hearthstone. Blizzard has even dealt with this issue in a big way in the past - when the company tried to force RealID [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/103899-Blizzard-Finally-Lets-People-Turn-Off-RealID-Completely] on its players, a community manager offered up his full name as proof that it wasn't "such a big deal." People were quickly able to discern his address and other personal information from the name, and launched a huge harassment campaign.

I do wish the Hearthstone devs would be a bit more open with the community, though, especially when you look at how open the teams behind other Blizzard titles World of Warcraft and Heroes of The Storm are.

Source: reddit [https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/5laf2z/yong_woo_on_more_designer_insights/dbuaf0n/]

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The Rogue Wolf

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After Call of Duty developers got death threats because of minor changes to weapon stats, it's a wonder that all developers don't interact with players through thick steel doors surrounded by armed guards.
 

TelosSupreme

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Okay, I gotta be honest, that screw-up with RealID is hilariously ironic. Maybe that was good enough proof as to why it was a bad idea.

Seriously though, anybody doing PR for a big company shouldn't be worrying about online harassment. I guarantee that most fans are level-headed people and those spouting anger and bile are just the vocal minority (as it usually tends to be). And anybody who goes as far as doxxing or SWATting should be arrested anyway. Besides which, making excuses like this isn't exactly going to help, it'll probably only encourage the bad behavior.

I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended to serve as a filter for those doing online PR. Sift through all the spam, hatemail, gibberish, etc. and find the responses that are actually constructive. Really that's the kind of person who should just be doing the PR in general.
 

Janaschi

Scion of Delphi
Aug 21, 2012
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Gibbagobba said:
Okay, I gotta be honest, that screw-up with RealID is hilariously ironic. Maybe that was good enough proof as to why it was a bad idea.

Seriously though, anybody doing PR for a big company shouldn't be worrying about online harassment. I guarantee that most fans are level-headed people and those spouting anger and bile are just the vocal minority (as it usually tends to be). And anybody who goes as far as doxxing or SWATting should be arrested anyway. Besides which, making excuses like this isn't exactly going to help, it'll probably only encourage the bad behavior.

I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended to serve as a filter for those doing online PR. Sift through all the spam, hatemail, gibberish, etc. and find the responses that are actually constructive. Really that's the kind of person who should just be doing the PR in general.
The problem is that it's easy to think that when you haven't dealt with harassment yourself.

Maybe you have, and I'm making a wrong assumption here - but I have dealt with online harassment, where even though I have used an alias all of my life, they still managed to find everything from the phone numbers of my family and friends, to where I had worked, and where I was currently working, and even managed to temporarily lock down my bank accounts, which I was fortunate enough to have caught the intrusion early on before it became full-fledged stolen identity.

It took over 9 months before they finally got bored and disappeared, and from the horror stories that I've seen, I got off very very very very very lucky.

No one should have to deal with harassment, and no one in their right should would be willing to put themselves in that sort of position. All it takes is an anonymous call to your work, or to the local police, saying that you do/sell drugs, or you touch little kids (etc. etc. etc.,) and it's very easy to end up in a lot of shit. All it takes is for your family/friends to receive constant phone-calls from harassers, to put a strain on your relationships. All it takes is not being diligent one day, for all of your information to be stolen under your nose, and then having to deal with the banks/police, whose default position is to make your life even more miserable, because they will assume that you're attempting to commit fraud.

So I kind of doubt that you know what you're talking about here.
 

Wrex Brogan

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-looks at the general response from the Blizzard community for literally anything- You know what, I get that.
 

OldNewNewOld

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God what a lame excuse.
No, you don't want to be more open because then you would show the wold how you're not doing anything for the bigger part of the year, completely ignoring some insanely overpowered shit like Aggro Shaman, then Midrange Shaman and now Pirates that end the game faster than any other aggressive deck could ever do it before and there is nothing really you can do except pray they have a bad hand and you draw your taunt.

You will be getting harassment because you're not open, because you ignore what's going on with the game and because you're pushing the game in the wrong direction. I'm not saying that the harassment you're getting is okay, but someone calling you a bunch of incompetent idiots isn't too far from the truth if we go by the way the game is being developed.
 

Battenberg

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Aug 16, 2012
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BiH-Kira said:
God what a lame excuse.
No, you don't want to be more open because then you would show the wold how you're not doing anything for the bigger part of the year, completely ignoring some insanely overpowered shit like Aggro Shaman, then Midrange Shaman and now Pirates that end the game faster than any other aggressive deck could ever do it before and there is nothing really you can do except pray they have a bad hand and you draw your taunt.

You will be getting harassment because you're not open, because you ignore what's going on with the game and because you're pushing the game in the wrong direction. I'm not saying that the harassment you're getting is okay, but someone calling you a bunch of incompetent idiots isn't too far from the truth if we go by the way the game is being developed.
I'm somewhere around this camp of thought although perhaps not as extreme. Thing is people jump to death threats and all sorts these days, often over such minor things, so I don't want to dismiss legitimate fears of harassment. That said Blizzard manage to be a lot more open on other franchises and it's not like keeping the community updated on what's happening has to put staff any further into harm's way than they already are.

It feels more like they're trying to avoid facing up to very real concerns people have over the game (some of which have been issues for years now) because they've spent so long ignoring that feedback people have gotten pretty worked up about it. Would it really be so bad to at least take on board stuff from some of the professional players at least (i.e. Kripparian who genuinely seems to have a better understanding of the game than the devs at this point)? Or to do developer updates every now and then like Overwatch so people know what is and isn't being worked on? If they had done that from the start I bet the HS community would have been a lot better off for it but instead they just let it stagnate over time. As indefensible as online harassment is these guys bear some responsibility for the negativity that plagues Hearthstone.
 

Pinky's Brain

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Devs don't have to use RealID either ... just use a single common account to write a blog, signed The Team. Maybe allow the community to nominate some questions.
 

Saelune

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Being more open to the community can probably help avoid dumb things like the realID fiasco, cause you can ya know, get feedback before it blows up in your face. A lack of feedback and community interaction hurts more than helps. Often just knowing the reasoning behind something can make it more palatable.

Cannot speak for it any time recently, but when I did play Guild Wars 2, I felt the devs were pretty open with the community, and even explained certain things they were doing. I dont remember what, but some question I had about something that bothered me, they answered and explained, and it did not bother me so much after.
 

TelosSupreme

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GarouxBloodline said:
Gibbagobba said:
Okay, I gotta be honest, that screw-up with RealID is hilariously ironic. Maybe that was good enough proof as to why it was a bad idea.

Seriously though, anybody doing PR for a big company shouldn't be worrying about online harassment. I guarantee that most fans are level-headed people and those spouting anger and bile are just the vocal minority (as it usually tends to be). And anybody who goes as far as doxxing or SWATting should be arrested anyway. Besides which, making excuses like this isn't exactly going to help, it'll probably only encourage the bad behavior.

I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended to serve as a filter for those doing online PR. Sift through all the spam, hatemail, gibberish, etc. and find the responses that are actually constructive. Really that's the kind of person who should just be doing the PR in general.
The problem is that it's easy to think that when you haven't dealt with harassment yourself.

Maybe you have, and I'm making a wrong assumption here - but I have dealt with online harassment, where even though I have used an alias all of my life, they still managed to find everything from the phone numbers of my family and friends, to where I had worked, and where I was currently working, and even managed to temporarily lock down my bank accounts, which I was fortunate enough to have caught the intrusion early on before it became full-fledged stolen identity.

It took over 9 months before they finally got bored and disappeared, and from the horror stories that I've seen, I got off very very very very very lucky.

No one should have to deal with harassment, and no one in their right should would be willing to put themselves in that sort of position. All it takes is an anonymous call to your work, or to the local police, saying that you do/sell drugs, or you touch little kids (etc. etc. etc.,) and it's very easy to end up in a lot of shit. All it takes is for your family/friends to receive constant phone-calls from harassers, to put a strain on your relationships. All it takes is not being diligent one day, for all of your information to be stolen under your nose, and then having to deal with the banks/police, whose default position is to make your life even more miserable, because they will assume that you're attempting to commit fraud.

So I kind of doubt that you know what you're talking about here.
I never said that any of it was acceptable. I'm simply saying that companies and people who will have to deal with it should be taking extra precautions to avoiding and counteracting it. Stuff like streamers/content creators informing their police of what they do and the potential of SWATting to happen is a good example. Police also need to be better prepared for these kinds of threats since they are still relatively new. Like others have said, it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed, and only THEN will people do something about it (and chances are that something will be an overreaction).

I don't have to have been harassed to such an extreme level to know what I'm talking about. It's basically common sense as well as being vigilant.

TwoSidesOneCoin said:
Gibbagobba said:
I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended...
Good luck with that these days.
Yeah, I know. It's getting harder to be optimistic.
 

SKBPinkie

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Yeah, based on some of the responses I'm seeing here, Blizzard made the right choice.
 

Janaschi

Scion of Delphi
Aug 21, 2012
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Gibbagobba said:
GarouxBloodline said:
Gibbagobba said:
Okay, I gotta be honest, that screw-up with RealID is hilariously ironic. Maybe that was good enough proof as to why it was a bad idea.

Seriously though, anybody doing PR for a big company shouldn't be worrying about online harassment. I guarantee that most fans are level-headed people and those spouting anger and bile are just the vocal minority (as it usually tends to be). And anybody who goes as far as doxxing or SWATting should be arrested anyway. Besides which, making excuses like this isn't exactly going to help, it'll probably only encourage the bad behavior.

I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended to serve as a filter for those doing online PR. Sift through all the spam, hatemail, gibberish, etc. and find the responses that are actually constructive. Really that's the kind of person who should just be doing the PR in general.
The problem is that it's easy to think that when you haven't dealt with harassment yourself.

Maybe you have, and I'm making a wrong assumption here - but I have dealt with online harassment, where even though I have used an alias all of my life, they still managed to find everything from the phone numbers of my family and friends, to where I had worked, and where I was currently working, and even managed to temporarily lock down my bank accounts, which I was fortunate enough to have caught the intrusion early on before it became full-fledged stolen identity.

It took over 9 months before they finally got bored and disappeared, and from the horror stories that I've seen, I got off very very very very very lucky.

No one should have to deal with harassment, and no one in their right should would be willing to put themselves in that sort of position. All it takes is an anonymous call to your work, or to the local police, saying that you do/sell drugs, or you touch little kids (etc. etc. etc.,) and it's very easy to end up in a lot of shit. All it takes is for your family/friends to receive constant phone-calls from harassers, to put a strain on your relationships. All it takes is not being diligent one day, for all of your information to be stolen under your nose, and then having to deal with the banks/police, whose default position is to make your life even more miserable, because they will assume that you're attempting to commit fraud.

So I kind of doubt that you know what you're talking about here.
I never said that any of it was acceptable. I'm simply saying that companies and people who will have to deal with it should be taking extra precautions to avoiding and counteracting it. Stuff like streamers/content creators informing their police of what they do and the potential of SWATting to happen is a good example. Police also need to be better prepared for these kinds of threats since they are still relatively new. Like others have said, it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed, and only THEN will people do something about it (and chances are that something will be an overreaction).

I don't have to have been harassed to such an extreme level to know what I'm talking about. It's basically common sense as well as being vigilant.

TwoSidesOneCoin said:
Gibbagobba said:
I would personally hire someone who isn't easily offended...
Good luck with that these days.
Yeah, I know. It's getting harder to be optimistic.
Fair enough - to that degree, I agree that developers really ought to suck it up, and be more open with their communities. As an independent contractor for Curse, it would certainly help my job out. :p

Oh well. At least there are developers like Joshua Sawyer, and Garry Newman,` who regularly talk to their fans.
 

Karadalis

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Heres the issue:

You are in theory exposing yourselfe and your opinions to the entire world when you go on a publically accesible forum on the internet. (Something that alot of people nowadays seem to forget when going online)

The world is a big place... and sadly there are alot of people with too much time and a chip on their shoulder... and they also have access to the internet. That this will inevitably lead to something nasty is not rocket science, so if you want to use the internet to communicate with your fanbase then youre better ready for it.

And most important of all: DONT FEED THE TROLLS!

Ignore them. That has and is the only method of dealing with them. Anything else is just motivation.

Also make sure your personal information is not exposed anywhere on the web. No Facebook, no twitter no tumblr that can be tied to your family and friends in some way or another.

Its enough for some people if you "liked" or "shared" a siblings christmas family picture to find out everything they need to make your live hell...
 

Chareater

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The simple fact is that they are going to have to start communicating or they are going to lose players.

People are mad right now about all the aggro decks in the meta, and if the devs don't talk to the community and listen to their criticisms people are going to feel ignored and just say "fuck it I quit."

The Hearthstone community has such amazing suggestions that for some reason are never listened too.

Ofcourse this will mean that they will get harassed and I wish it didn't. But its something they are going to have to deal with if they want to make the game the best it can be.

For example look at the Overwatch devs, they sadly get harassed too however communicating with their players has made Overwatch a much better game. (Remember it was the community that told blizzard that Mcree FTH was too powerful.)
 

Dalsyne

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I remember such a graven example of harassment such as Greg "Ghostcrawler" street, who bravely explained and defended design principles on the clusterfuck that is the WoW forums back when WoW had 12+ million players, during Wrath of the Lich King.

Poor Ghostcrawler went on to have his feelings deeply hurt by the awful harassment, going so far as to move from his home, lose his motivation, live as a homeless man on the street, and finally commit sudoku. Cuz harassment.

Oh nevermind he works for Riot now.
 

Naldan

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Believe it or not, but there are people who feel like being stabbed when they get harassed online. And what obligation do they have to show their face? And what advantages would that bring with it?

Don't get me wrong, I feel like this topic called online-harassment is overblown beyond belief. And what concerns me more is that out of a hundred devs, only one shows his face. But maybe they suffer from collective mass-depression, where every word you read potentially hurts you for real. On the inside, of course.

Still, this is something to worry about. Why are so many people instable enough to not show their face? I got punched in the face with a weapon recently, out of the blue in the middle of the night on a sidewalk. Got threatened and were told to run, which after some time for consideration I did. I can now become paranoid and expect a drive-by in order to prevent me from being a whitness in court. When I had depression, this would have devastated me for sure.

Nevertheless, the question remains for me what the consumer would gain from them showing their faces.
 

C117

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I kind of get the feeling that the developers behind Hearthstone might have been able to mitigate a lot of the potential hate if they'd been more open from the start. But as they keep releasing cards that compound existing problems in the game, the player base gets more and more riled up, like shaking a fizzy drink. And now they can't open up without the playersbase spewing their hate everywhere.

It's sad, really...