Jennifer Hepler leaves Bioware due to threats by fans

Dragonbums

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JazzJack2 said:
Why on earth would any want to play a game purely for it's story? even the best of storytelling in games is pretty average in comparison to the standards of literature.
What are you talking about here? People wanted to play the Last of Us for the story.

People wanted to play Bioshock Infinite for the story.

People wanted to play Heavy Rain for the story.

What do you mean you don't understand why people play videogames for the story?

If people want to read books, they will read a damn book. If somebody wants to play a game with a good story, they will pick up a game with a good story.


This shows just how shit Bioware (and a large amount of other modern game designers) have become in recent times. The fact that the gameplay is not integral to the story (and is seen as even seen as a nuisance by fans) but the two are instead distinct entities of which one can be disposed without detriment to the other, shows they don't understand how to write storylines for games.
How does that prove they are shitty game makers? And how does this reflect upon the game development community as a whole? The first and foremost priority for Bioware was to make amazing stories contained within a game.
Nevermind the fact that when Mass Effect first started they were for all intents and purposes a small to average company, their first priority was the story. Not the gameplay.
 

BarbaricGoose

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Gunjester said:
Eleima said:
This is absolutely appalling. A real shame. BioWare's writing team is the poorer for it.
No one deserves the kind of treatment she's been given.
Agreed with the second line. But not the first.
She added little insight, more interested in broadening audience than producing something of quality. The first Bioware had insight, heart, a lot more to offer in the form of relationships. Sure, you couldn't f*ck anyone you wanted in any gender you wanted, but that's closer to life, and if you make relationships unrealistic, they're not as satisfying.
If you wanted to sleep with EVERYONE in DA:O, you had to have a character from each gender, forcing the character to break their own personal barriers and try to experience something new. If you didn't want to see through the eyes of another gender, tough shit, no Alistair/Morrigan for you. They had REAL sexual identities, interesting views on relationships. Everyone in DA2 was bisexual, they had the nearly the exact same responses to both genders. They had no sexual identities, even in DA:O the bisexual characters justify their interest in the same gender, the only thing that game was missing was exclusively homosexual characters.
Finally, someone who seeks to weaken the relationships of gameplay and story is better to be lost than kept in this industry. The only thing that sets us apart from other mediums in interaction with it, the less we have, the less we are what we are. Both Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 had two gameplay components, combat and conversation. No crafting, no joining between these two components, it was like if you made a peanut-butter and jam sandwich by spreading one on each and eating them seperately, it may feel in your mouth that the residue's mixing, but it'll never be as tasty as slammin' them together and chowing down.
How exactly do you know that it was Hepler who made all those decisions? I don't know how many writers worked on DA2, but I'd wager it's more than, you know, just Hepler. I mean, if you read a book written by JUST Hepler and said "This is a piece of shit," I wouldn't contest it. I mean, I could give my own opinion, but it would be no more valid than yours. However, I don't know what parts of DA2 she wrote, and I don't think you know, either. Maybe she was on the side of wanting the same shit you want, and just got out-voted?

And someone else mentioned how it was commonplace for you to be able to skip dialogue in games, and why not gun/swordplay? I don't know if it would be feasible--not a game designer--but I don't think it's totally unreasonable to ask for. Besides, she wasn't even asking for it to happen. And I doubt she was trying to get them to include it in DA2.

I don't understand the hatred towards this woman. I mean, I loathed DA2, but that was more because they destroyed everything that made it unique. Felt like they were trying to copy ME3; make everything faster, less tactical, fewer classes, less variety (especially in the environments). The story was disjointed, certainly, but I'd have probably enjoyed it more if the gameplay wasn't fucking awful. I liked the characters from the original more. A lot more. But that's the only real complaint I have in the story department. Maaaybe the Templar/Mage thing could've used a few more shades of gray.
 

Knight Templar

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CriticKitten said:
Now then, I'm done. I've said what I wanted to say and I've said it several times over and over because people haven't been bothering to read what I said the first time.
You utterly ignored my entire point, made a parting shot and run away?
Listen, I think you're too focused on saying your piece, that you didn't really bother to understand what anybody else was saying. I mean "She is advocating an option to remove those elements and to just skip to the dialogue."? The dialogue itself is experienced through gameplay, you entirely ignored my point.


Sparrow said:
Chief among them however is her part in turning most of the character in Dragon Age 2 bisexual.
That wouldn't have been her decision, that would have made by the lead writer, he has said that the overall direction characters took was his decision and wouldn't have changed if another writer was in charge of them.

But more importantly Anders was commonly referred to as the gay Alistair, the character wasn't straight as an arrow before. This isn't something that should shock you, and isn't something that implies poor writing skill no matter how much we like or dislike it anyway.
 

Tsun Tzu

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Most death threats celebrities (or even public shlubs) get aren't real, either. Most people don't want to killthe President for reals, either. That doesn't change the fact that some are. The internet may be a place where it's easier to fire something off anonymously, but that doesn't mean there's no weight to internet threats. Just like in real life, you have no way of knowing what threats are real. It's a little different if you're not a public figure. You're comparing your Username getting threats to threats against a specific person?

...Yyyyyyyeah, not cool.

I mean, are you willing to give out your real name and contact info, publicly? I bet not. Nor do I want you to. I just want to see if the comparison will actually hold when your actual identity is out there for people to see.

The responses Zachary Amaranth gets are different than the ones I get in my day-to-day-life for doing things like....Well, writing. I'm a part-time, freelance journalist. Though the part-time part is kind of waning and I have nothing recent, but that's not the point. Hell, I'm tempted to try out for the Escapist's news jobs at this point, but I really am not sure I want my name attached to gaming journalism because of the innate hostility.

I mean, let me ask you seriously: have you ever got a call in the middle of the night threatening your life?
I won't argue that there isn't any weight at all, since it's still communicating (sometimes) a genuine sense of hatred for the target. Perhaps I have a bit too much of a disconnect between the internet and reality, as I truly don't view 95% of the internet's diatribe as being worth so much as a passing glance or, at best, an irritated scoff.

I'm not saying to ignore threats relating to specific, accurate portions of a person's life, like...say...someone threatening to kill you the next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, which you've never mentioned on the internet before or threatening to string up your golden retriever named Goldy, which you've also never mentioned before. Of course, give proper attention to the threats that have some sort of angle like the aforementioned ones, but "You suck, Imma kill you, *****" isn't really something to get your knickers in a twist about.

I'm really just arguing against the irrational "censor everything and dole out real world punishment for words online" thing I've been seeing some folks say. I'd rather the world didn't head in a Justin Carter direction.

I've also seen the argument made that Facebook and Twitter are essentially avenues for someone to become a public figure, since your contact information/name are available in the former and, in a professional capacity, the latter. It's a pretty interesting way to look at it, given the increasing digitalization of culture and society, but eh.

I've received death threats via usernames, Facebook (which is open to the public and contains my contact information), gaming services, and in person. The only ones that have ever given me any degree of pause are the ones I've gotten in person. There's just something...quite a bit more visceral about someone standing in front of you, glaring, and intoning all of the ways they'd like to slit you up. I've defused those scenarios with a calm conversation or two, but still. Quite worrisome.

Never over the phone though...oddly.

If I were you, and I'd the experience necessary to get into gaming journalism, I'd do it. People make death threats over millisecond changes to in game sniper rifle's aim time. If that isn't an indication of the sheer ridiculousness of the subject, then I don't know what is.
 

Something Amyss

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CriticKitten said:
I repeat: if an employee from EA or Zynga had said what she said, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. You'd all be agreeing with me, hopping on the old bandwagon, and my posts would have been forgotten within 24 hours and wouldn't have been drummed up into this HUGE multi-page argument. But no, she's from Bioware and may have been involved in making some games we like, initiate defense sequence immediately! YOU all made this a big deal, not me. I was perfectly content to say my piece and move on.
I can't speak for anyone but me. Well, all of me. there are several of me in my skull. but that said....

Please. I complain about Bioware more than I ever do about Zynga. By the way, I have a history of defending Zynga. Not everything they do, but I certainly don't hold any animosity for them. In fact, I dislike Hepler. I dislike a lot of what she's said in the few interview I've seen with her and I really object to the notion that women don't like games because they're too busy cookin' and cleanin' for their mayuns.

So a person I dislike proposes something I won't use and don't really want, your response is if she worked for another company I disliked I would be patting you on the back?

This really isn't a big deal[footnote]I suppose you could call the original ordeal one, but that was mostly a big deal because people flipped out over something fairly minor, which probably led to the death threats in the first place. This is not that, however.[/footnote], but you're resorting to grandstanding. If anyone is making it a big deal, instead of a conversation, it's you. The "that's it, I'm done after this giant lecture" deal is overly dramatic and completely unnecessary. And honestly, I'm sorry if you're offended, but it doesn't look like anyone else is taking this like you are. Maybe I missed some posts, but it looks like fairly normal disagreement.

If your argument is so delicate that it cannot be challenged in a rational fashion, then perhaps your argument isn't very valid at all. I struggle to find a reason peple react so strongly to this suggestion. I'm not really for it so much as I can't see any solid argument against.

Note that I wasn't using FF13 or Heavy Rain as examples of good "games", but rather as examples of how her suggestion for a "game without game play" is several steps beyond even the most experimental of attempts to merge movies and games.
Yet, despite that fact, you made an excellent case for superfluous gameplay that demonstrates our exact argument. Well, our arguments, which are on a similar but not identical wavelength. Understand that no matter your intent, you have brought up games that demonstrate how superfluous gameplay can be to these things called "games."

I would argue adding perfunctory travel makes the issue in and of itself.

I know a lot of people who watched the Injustice cut scenes, and there's almost no connection between gameplay and cinema. The cinematics will provide an excuse for the fight, but all you miss if you skip the fighting and just watch the cut scenes you don't really miss anything. This is an issue. You have a two-hour movie with breaks for gameplay. This is the extreme--more extreme perhaps than your examples--but the point remains.

There is also a large install base for "just the cutscenes," which can be watched on YouTube or other video services. Why not appeal to those people with an optional mode? Hepler's own statement reflects upon the fact that we already allow you to skip the dialogue to get to the pew pew, which if games were really such a marriage of media would be just as bad.

You also bring up an interesting point about how she actively fired back at her critics on a regular basis (which is something I didn't know, hell, I basically didn't know this woman existed until I read this thread). That puts her more into the category of folks like Fish, and it makes me have even less sympathy for her plight to be honest. You're entirely correct: when you attack your critics like that, you give the inclination to them that it's all fair play. Death threats are still unacceptable and always will be, mind, don't get me wrong. But if she was indeed in the same boat as Fish, then I'm sorry, but I can't sympathize all that much.
The difference between her and Fish is that Fish went looking for a fight. Hepler fired back because she got all sorts of crap calling her a fat whore and the like simply because she suggested an optional piece of media. She shouldn't have, probably, but it did make things fair game, I agree. Thing is, it still only justifies it after the fact. She got a lot of shit by that point. I can't entirely blame her for firing back, but it's still the wrong step.

As I highlighted several times before (and once in this post), she then went on to suggest a "fast-forward" option that lets her skip to the dialogue. Ergo she is not just talking about skipping combat and nothing else, she is talking about skipping EVERYTHING that isn't dialogue.
She applied this as a parallel to skipping to the combat. I think you can parse that a little better.

I'm sort of curious, though. For the most part, isn't it a story/gameplay duality we're talking about? In which case, isn't it kind of pointless to further the distinction? She went on specifically about points that relate to combat. Even inventory is primarily a combat trait.

If it's basically an A/B setup we're discussing, why is it a problem that she's talking about skipping B to get to A?
 

IceForce

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Maziecat said:
The headlines said Hepler left because of death threats, but she is quoted later in the article as contradicting this. I'm really just confused now, but for more reasons than just that.
The article title is sensationalist and misleading.

In fact, this thread is so misleading and derailed, it should probably be locked.
 

JazzJack2

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Dragonbums said:
What do you mean you don't understand why people play videogames for the story?
What I mean is that if all you want is a story I don't understand why you would play a video game when there are millions of books with vastly better ones, the only thing video games offer is interactivity.



If somebody wants to play a game with a good story, they will pick up a game with a good story.
Well good look finding one.


How does that prove they are shitty game makers? And how does this reflect upon the game development community as a whole?
Because it proves they don't understand how to write stories for games but only know to write stories (bad ones at that) and shoehorn them into games(this is a problem with many developers I've noticed.) To write properly for a game the story needs to be integral to the gameplay and vice versa. Look at the Walking Dead for example, the gameplay and story never feel like distinct separate elements from each other, the gameplay will always have a purpose in the plot and will always be furthering the plot and vice versa.

Look at the game Bioshock infinite for the exact opposite of what I mean, the story takes place in distinct sections cut off from the gameplay ones (it's broken up into combat, then exposition, then combat again etc with little overlap) and the game leads to an overwhelming amount of cognitive dissonance between the two elements. Not only does the gameplay do nothing to serve the plot (and has no actual purpose being an fps beyond the fact that is what sells) it actually undermines the plot, characters behave nonsensically in the context of the game (for example the police officers, who are simply ordinary folk, seem to behave with no regard for their own life and will storm a murderous psychopath with a firearm when they only have a crude truncheon.) This inconsistency in tone shows just how amateurish game design has become, they don't seem to put any thought into why some elements are put into a game they just chuck them in because they think they should and don't consider the consequences it will have in terms of game design.

And while recent Bioware games aren't quite as bad as the train-wreck that is Bioshock Infinite (the gameplay still has some logical consistency and connection with the plot) they still make the awful mistake of placing a story next to gameplay and not into it. Look at ME3, the game is simply large shooter sections broken up with dialogue and story sections and they do nothing to service each other, it almost doesn't feel like I am playing one game but rather a game and a book or visual novel pushed up against it.
 

Rastrelly

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Threats are not a method to deal with unwelcome people. Yet I have nothing against this woman leaving the industry and never coming back. Writing for games is extremely difficult, and if the writer can't actually play LOTS of games to summarize and understand how writing should blend into gameplay (exactly DA2's case - writing and gameplay down'ere are separate) via empiric research and experience gathering - this writer should just leave. He or she is professionally unfit.

Also - that gay thing. If you want to be "tolerant" that much, then just leave an option for player to avoid scenes he or she doesn't want to see in any case, even if those scenes are optional and require an effort to achieve.
 

Falsename

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I miss the world of yester-year, when people had Decency and more importantly; Accountability.

You'd get less of this shit happening.
 

Gunjester

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BarbaricGoose said:
How exactly do you know that it was Hepler who made all those decisions? I don't know how many writers worked on DA2, but I'd wager it's more than, you know, just Hepler. I mean, if you read a book written by JUST Hepler and said "This is a piece of shit," I wouldn't contest it. I mean, I could give my own opinion, but it would be no more valid than yours. However, I don't know what parts of DA2 she wrote, and I don't think you know, either. Maybe she was on the side of wanting the same shit you want, and just got out-voted?

And someone else mentioned how it was commonplace for you to be able to skip dialogue in games, and why not gun/swordplay? I don't know if it would be feasible--not a game designer--but I don't think it's totally unreasonable to ask for. Besides, she wasn't even asking for it to happen. And I doubt she was trying to get them to include it in DA2.

I don't understand the hatred towards this woman. I mean, I loathed DA2, but that was more because they destroyed everything that made it unique. Felt like they were trying to copy ME3; make everything faster, less tactical, fewer classes, less variety (especially in the environments). The story was disjointed, certainly, but I'd have probably enjoyed it more if the gameplay wasn't fucking awful. I liked the characters from the original more. A lot more. But that's the only real complaint I have in the story department. Maaaybe the Templar/Mage thing could've used a few more shades of gray.
I never claimed to know that She was the only one writing. I never said I hated her either, I have no hatred for this woman and never threatened her children or condoned those who did. I listed what was wrong with these games she helped create and didn't list her connection because everyone on this forum knows it. It's that she condones these things that makes me say that Bioware is not worse off for her, I'm not saying I hate her or that she should die or anything of the like, I merely say that based on the reports, that she endorses these themes and that's a bad thing.
As for the skipping dialogue thing, if a game is intent on having story and gameplay both be a focus for the experience, nothing should be skippable. Many games don't allow you to skip anything, and despite being somewhat frustrating when you die and have to see everything again (which only motivates you to survive more), I feel the loss of a skip option does not wound the experience one bit. When a game allows me to skip, I do it by mistake and miss entire chunks of the story, and if people want to skip the story options so much than they should examine what the point of the game is; interaction without context is just as meaningless as context without interaction when you're in a medium that's supposed to allow both. Stop trying to turn video games into movies and books and help them evolve, that's all I'm saying.
I hope for the best for this woman, I really do, and those bullying her for shallow reasons, or bullying her for no reason are scum. But I'm not bullying, I'm criticizing; it's nothing personal, I don't know this woman, but based on the work done in her career, and the way she talks about the medium, I can't agree that it's a loss for the Bioware team. Losing their founders was a loss, EA purchasing them was a loss, but losing Hepler is not a loss. It's by no means a gain, but it's not a loss in my eyes.
 

ThunderCavalier

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This is a rational reaction.

Game sucks. > Blame specific employee for game sucking. > THREATEN TO KILL HER CHILDREN.

*facepalm* And people wonder why the gaming stereotype of lonely, psychopathic nerds holed up in the basement hasn't died yet. Gee, I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY.
 

Rastrelly

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Falsename said:
I miss the world of yester-year, when people had Decency and more importantly; Accountability.

You'd get less of this shit happening.
Ah, yes, that yesteryear that have never existed ;) People love to romanticize the past, but seriously, people never were better. They were just harder to communicate and try to threat someone with a knife in the pocket.
 

LiquidGrape

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Gunjester said:
She added little insight, more interested in broadening audience than producing something of quality. The first Bioware had insight, heart, a lot more to offer in the form of relationships.
What first BioWare? What are you even talking about? Could you substantiate these claims about Hepler or are they purely conjecture?

Sure, you couldn't f*ck anyone you wanted in any gender you wanted, but that's closer to life, and if you make relationships unrealistic, they're not as satisfying.
So a more egalitarian pool of options for the player and his or her particular predilections is "unrealistic" in this world of magic and dragons? Also, according to whose experiences would this result in less satisfying interactions?

If you wanted to sleep with EVERYONE in DA:O, you had to have a character from each gender, forcing the character to break their own personal barriers and try to experience something new. If you didn't want to see through the eyes of another gender, tough shit, no Alistair/Morrigan for you. They had REAL sexual identities, interesting views on relationships. Everyone in DA2 was bisexual, they had the nearly the exact same responses to both genders. They had no sexual identities, even in DA:O the bisexual characters justify their interest in the same gender, the only thing that game was missing was exclusively homosexual characters.
"Justify their interest in the same gender"? What do you mean? What is there to justify? Why is there any need whatsoever for a qualifier? How come you arbitrarily define the sexualities of the characters in DA:O as more "REAL"? Bisexuality isn't a sexual identity? Honestly, it shouldn't impact your enjoyment of the game whatsoever if another player courts the same character as you but with a player character of the opposite sex. It doesn't lessen the legitimacy of the connection the player has made, and the game neither judges nor cheapens the relationship. It is purely through meta-gaming that some kind of judgement of the disparity in presentation relative to the sex of the player character can be made, and even then I think you'd be surprised at just how often it acknowledges that factor. And contrary to your insinuations, DA2 never actually allowed you to hump every character in your party. In fact, DA:O allowed you to buy your way into their bedrolls with gifts, whereas DA2 actually had a far more intricate system for gauging the interpersonal dynamics. You simply *can't* have your way with everyone.
Now there's some realism for you.

Finally, someone who seeks to weaken the relationships of gameplay and story is better to be lost than kept in this industry. The only thing that sets us apart from other mediums in interaction with it, the less we have, the less we are what we are. Both Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 had two gameplay components, combat and conversation. No crafting, no joining between these two components, it was like if you made a peanut-butter and jam sandwich by spreading one on each and eating them seperately, it may feel in your mouth that the residue's mixing, but it'll never be as tasty as slammin' them together and chowing down.
Hepler is a writer. She had zero impact on actual design. She made a personal suggestion for a feature she personally would have enjoyed seeing incorporated. She didn't seek to "weaken the relationships of gameplay and story", she referred to a theoretical option.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Look I'll be the first to admit Dragon Age II was a terribly written game, but threatening someone? Threatening children?! That's just low. Im totally in favor of protesting bad games - hell, I protested on the Bioware forums for 6+ months until Mass Effect 3 was fixed. But no one I saw ever threatened anyone.
 

Rastrelly

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LiquidGrape said:
Hepler is a writer. She had zero impact on actual design. She made a personal suggestion for a feature she personally would have enjoyed seeing incorporated. She didn't seek to "weaken the relationships of gameplay and story", she referred to a theoretical option.
Writer is a helper if writer actually HELPS. Game writer must consider differences that occur - like between book and movie script. This person definitely lacks this skill, while being not talentless writer.
 

Eleima

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Gunjester said:
Eleima said:
This is absolutely appalling. A real shame. BioWare's writing team is the poorer for it.
No one deserves the kind of treatment she's been given.
Agreed with the second line. But not the first.
She added little insight, more interested in broadening audience than producing something of quality. The first Bioware had insight, heart, a lot more to offer in the form of relationships. Sure, you couldn't f*ck anyone you wanted in any gender you wanted, but that's closer to life, and if you make relationships unrealistic, they're not as satisfying.
If you wanted to sleep with EVERYONE in DA:O, you had to have a character from each gender, forcing the character to break their own personal barriers and try to experience something new. If you didn't want to see through the eyes of another gender, tough shit, no Alistair/Morrigan for you. They had REAL sexual identities, interesting views on relationships. Everyone in DA2 was bisexual, they had the nearly the exact same responses to both genders. They had no sexual identities, even in DA:O the bisexual characters justify their interest in the same gender, the only thing that game was missing was exclusively homosexual characters.
Finally, someone who seeks to weaken the relationships of gameplay and story is better to be lost than kept in this industry. The only thing that sets us apart from other mediums in interaction with it, the less we have, the less we are what we are. Both Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 had two gameplay components, combat and conversation. No crafting, no joining between these two components, it was like if you made a peanut-butter and jam sandwich by spreading one on each and eating them seperately, it may feel in your mouth that the residue's mixing, but it'll never be as tasty as slammin' them together and chowing down.
Apparently, you don't remember the adventure games of the 80s and 90s in which gameplay was stripped to a bare minimum. Those games were more story driven than anything else. Not nostalgia or anything, but simply pointing out that the medium changes, that it's going to evolve into different forms.
And check your facts, but not all DA2 characters were bisexual.
 

Dante dynamite

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I was just wondering... you guys do know that she isn't leaving because of the harassment right? Wouldn't it be weird if she left for harassment she got years ago.

http://www.themarysue.com/hepler-quits-xbox-update

she left to write her textbook on game narrative. It was a bit of bad journalism to imply that it was because of the harassment, but now all the trolls will try to force out anyone that they don't like with unprecedented amount of bile and hate and for what? A controversial article to push up views.
 

Falsename

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Rastrelly said:
Falsename said:
I miss the world of yester-year, when people had Decency and more importantly; Accountability.

You'd get less of this shit happening.
Ah, yes, that yesteryear that have never existed ;) People love to romanticize the past, but seriously, people never were better. They were just harder to communicate and try to threat someone with a knife in the pocket.
'People' may not have been better but there was a higher count of 'good people'. We suck. Humans suck. Atleast we do when we're put in a position on anonymity, acting like complete douches knowing that we're probably not going to be held accountable for anything. People need to be 'reeled back' in order to learn respect, because we learn respect when that person we just insulted comes back and threatens to put a fist through those teeth of yours.

Someone threatens to kill me and my (hypothetical) children face to face or over the phone, I'm going to find them and make them bleed through every part of their body.

Someone threatens to kill me and my (hypothetical) children over the internet, I don't react because a) empty threat. b) I don't know this person or where I could find them to adjust the position of their nose on their face.