Do Online Games Have The Worst Communities?

Are online gamers uniquely negative and prone to complain about their passions? That’s a question I’ve often heard posed in one form or another, and there’s some interesting writing about it by David Gaider, a writer for BioWare’s Dragon Age games, on his Tumbler blog. In the post he talks about how he basically avoids the official fan channels about the Dragon Age games since all of the negativity is depressing, but stresses that the loudest voices aren’t necessarily representative of the overall fanbase. It’s best if you read the whole post for the fuller context and nuance, but here are a couple of quotes:

…the signal-to-noise ratio does seem to be worsening, and eventually you get the feeling like you’re at one of those parties where all anyone is doing is bitching. It doesn’t matter what they’re bitching about so much as, sooner or later, that’s all you can really hear.

…Eventually the polite, reasonable folks stop feeling like it’s a group of people they want to hang around. So they leave, and those who remain start to see only those who agree with them — and, because that’s all they see, they think that’s all there is. Everyone feels as they do, according to them. Once the tipping point is passed, you’re left with the extremes… those who hate, and those who dislike the haters enough to endure the toxic atmosphere to try and combat them. Each clash between those groups drives more of the others away.

…I think there’s something to be said there about the level of rhetoric and entitlement among online gamer communities in general.

…It’s especially hard when someone takes something you’ve said and twists it, and then misrepresents it to others as what you actually said.

…Best to take a breath, smile and remember there are a lot of really genuine, positive people to talk to. People who challenge you in a way that doesn’t make you feel worse about yourself. You should surround yourself with them the same way you’d surround yourself with such people in real life.

Words to live by? I hope so. The only other option is to simply avoid all online interaction with fans at all or make any such completely benign and PR-oriented, which would be unfortunate — and not, I suspect, what even the angry fan would want.

So what is it about online gamers that makes for such um… passionate online discussions? AKA why so many haters, who aren’t content to just hate and move on and do other things with their lives, but who need others to see and feel their hate?

On some level it’s a testimonial to the power of games. Diablo 2 is a good example; if people hadn’t loved the game they wouldn’t have had such passionate reactions — especially the negative ones — to Diablo 3. If D3 had just been some new game by some non-Blizzard studio, it obviously wouldn’t have sold a fraction of the 11m+ copies, but it wouldn’t have been met with such massive expectations, and if people didn’t like some of the game mechanics they’d have perhaps been angry, but not with anything approaching the vitriol or longevity we’ve seen about D3 since its launch.

Xanth and me were joking about that in an aside during the last podcast. How there are practically an infinite number of things we don’t like, in the entertainment and other fields, but in none of those cases do we feel compelled to seek out fansites or official forums devoted to those things, and commence filling them with angry posts, or posts designed to make people who do like those things feel bad.

Yet that sort of behavior seems almost expected when it comes to video games, especially online ones. Why? (I mean besides the clear and obvious fact that Diablo 3 is the worst game ever made, a fact that many former fans only became aware of somewhere around their 400th hour of play time.)

Jay Wilson tweeted the piece above, and a recent blue CM post on a very similar theme to the one quoted above can be seen with a click through.

Good game, bad community.

So everyday before I play Diablo I check because I like to see what people are saying in the popular topics. The only downside is that every single day there is a at least one thread about how bad this game is, or where the flaws are. Now i can appreciate that some of the posts are well written, literate and informative. I.e, posts about what the overall community would like to see added to the game from a census of the community and trying to get the word to a CM and hopefully eventually to a developer. BUT then we have the threads of people raging and QQing about every other aspect of the game. I.e NERF RD TOO HARD!!!!!! Or THIS GAME IS SO BAD I WANT THIS AND THAT. It’s such a depressant to see this when I still manage to have fun with the game, there is nothing more of a buzzkill than seeing people point out all the things that may not be perfect. I understand Blizzard still has a ways to go with the game and who knows, these next few patches could prove to really turn the game around; PvP, new design features etc. All i’m saying is that there are still people out there who enjoy the game and all the people who !@#$% and complain about everything are not accomplishing anything but making other people feel worse about the game.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback about this topic.
Vaeflare : As someone who’s been browsing these forums daily since their inception, I not only understand your eagerness to check up on the buzz surrounding the Diablo III community, but also the frustration you feel whenever you see complaints from players who are sometimes being less than constructive.

Here’s the thing: there are lots of people out there that enjoy Diablo III, and I’d wager that the majority of players posting here are doing so because they are passionate about the game and want to offer insight to make it even better. But there are also some players that simply like to stir the pot. My best suggestion for the latter is to down-vote their posts and take advantage of the “Ignore” feature if you feel they are being detrimental to the community — and to use the “Report” function if they are outright breaching the forum’s Code of Conduct or Posting Guidelines. Using inappropriate language or harassing other players or employees is never okay, and we do our best to weed out such behavior from our forums.

As we’ve said many times before, we do appreciate feedback and constructive discussions, and we try our best to cultivate an environment where players feel comfortable discussing all things Diablo III. We realize the forums aren’t always going to be overflowing with rainbow unicorns and fluffy teddy bears, but that’s to be expected, and we truly do appreciate the continued passion of the Diablo III community.


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  1. Well, there’s the simple fact that people who are playing and enjoying a game are busy playing the game, instead of hanging around forums. I play D3 a little bit, but come here to check for news out of habit. If I enjoyed D3 more, I wouldn’t be bothering to come here looking for news. That doesn’t mean the game sucks, but it could certainly be much better.

    Take Penny Arcade’s G.I.F.T. theory, for example. No repercussions and not being forced to view anyone on “the other side of the screen” as a real person can be a license to say whatever, whenever. I’ve read things here that, IMO, are worse than Wilson’s loser comment, but it’s apparently acceptable for “fans” to act a certain way. It does present a poor view of the community as a whole when it happens often.

    • I agree with you.

      I think the d3 community is actually one of the best I have ever seen for an online game. I realize that there is much negativity and frustration/ anger surrounding many players feelings towards the game, and I think that this is excellent because it shows that people care, something that is truly amazing considering how poorly a job the people are doing behind the scenes with updates, releasing pvp, constantly lying/ belittling their fanbase, taking too long to address simple issues, never releasing content in a patch update that is designed to do anything beyond keep people entertained for the shortest of times until the next patch comes out to keep you busy until the one after that…

      For there to even be a community, people wanting to play this game, considering everything Jay Wilson and the Dev team are doing to ruin this franchise; for people to care SO much about a game that has failed expectations (and not just slightly here,) by such huge light years and to still be here waiting for things to get better, when they never really do and they keep implementing more bad ideas/ decisions into the game (yes we really needed to go from 4 difficulties to 44 when the first 3/4 were already not liked to begin with… paragon levels a bad idea that Blizzard had to get from a FAN! Monster power… another one…) I think that for there to even be a community that is playing this game or cares about its future under these circumstances makes it one of the best I have ever seen.

      Let there be anger/ frustration and negativity until the people responsible step up and incorporate some welcome changes to this game and stop treating its fanbase like a bunch of unwelcome guests. For this community to care so much is exactly what makes it awesome, and it is largely why I hang in there like so many others, hoping to see this game turn around before the expansion comes out.

      • Ohhh and if anyone does want to know what a HORRIBLE gaming community is like: go play League of Legends for a week.

        Greatest game with the worst community I have ever been a part of.

        Sadly LOL is what DOTA2 should have been.

  2. I don’t see how gaming communities are any worse than political commentary, youtube comments, or discussions of movies, TV series, or long running book series.

  3. Believe it or not, the abusive posts on Bioware’s forums are much worse than those seen on bnet.

    • That might be because bioware’s descent into EA-quality was steep and sudden, and more of a shock, while Blizz’s slide into shlock, self-parody and mediocrity has been a slow, steady process that was only apparent to the very savvy before Bobby took over.

  4. It’s kind of a shame that the negativity has really creeped into the comments section here as well, to the extent where insightful and intelligent comments are normally overwhelmed by a torrent of bitching and moaning. I guess that’s what happens when there’s no way for users to filter out the bad comments, whether individually through ignore lists or as a community through downvotes, or even back-end moderation.

    • Agreed, it is horrifying.

      I wish I could filter out the fanbois that push their misguided love of WoW in our faces while defending the worst perversions of the diablo series.

      Any constructive thoughts on that one?

  5. lulz..this coming from the creators of the awesome button:

  6. It’s related to video games.

    I am a member on and simply don’t see any insults or name calling.

    Of course there are discussions, but you’ll never see things like “you noob, my game is better than your game”… etc…

    Board wargamers don’t even play to win, it is the excitement to play against someone else that is enough to have fun.

    And … boardgames ARE being played on line these days tx to programs like VASSAL etc…

    So it IS a problem of video game forums really.

  7. I understand the part about the negativity being infectious. If I would have never read any forums, my opinion of D3 might be different, I would still be playing, but once certain things are brought to the front, it’s hard to ignore them. I played D2 for years and never looked at a fansite or forum to get more info. It wasn’t until I wanted to learn about different builds and runewords that I started searching the web. Incgamers was the first one I came to, but it was along time before I ever created an account or posted.

    One thing I learned when I used to build and work on houses is that some people cannot and do not want to be pleased. D3 could have been perfect on launch day, but those people would still find something they didn’t like. I try to stay away from the obvious troll post or “I am quitting” thread, but sometimes a good tread will get totally turned around by a few QQ’ers. I can’t say my mind has ever been changed by anything like that enough to make me want to stop playing.

    • I agree. While all this trashing and whining has no influence directly, I always feel that the games I liked most were always the ones I never consulted the forums.

      The BEST time I had in WOW were the first 2 years and I never visited the official forums. Years later, I think I still regret the moment I clicked on the official WOW forums and see all that hate.

      With Diablo 3 the hate was ridiculous as it is not even related to a consistent feature. It is simply and pure Blizzard trashing from ANY point of view these guys can find.

      On line, no security, lies about session spoofing, lies about authenticator breaches, lies about difficulty, lies about too easy, too hard, too dumb, too this, too that.

      In the end you leave these websites and the only ones who stay are these dudes who make a living out of hating video games.

      Best is to ignore the Blizzard forums as they don’t represent anything, certainly not active players.

      And for those who think Diablo 3 must cure cancer: no it doesn’t, it is just a video game : you like it or you don’t.

  8. Very well article, and very true, ic covers my experience. 10 years ago there was a completely other tone on the official forums as today.

  9. I believe it happens mostly on official forums. The “online” component is important. “Offline games” usually have more polite people.

    Imo, the incgamers D2 and D3 SPF are models. Awesome moderators, clear rules that are enforced, etc. Imo, if they banned/suspended everyone trolling/flaming on D3 official forums, maybe things will be different.

    If the problem really is online games + official forums, maybe the problems is the lack of manpower to make the rules work.

    I support freedom of speech. Imo, everyone is allowed to create his own forum and trash talk with themselves. They should be banned from official ones.

  10. I don’t think that a community is bad by default because it is critical towards the latest Installment of a series which is as old as 17 years.

    that being said i don’t have sympathy for thin-skinned fans (origin of the word fanatic) who get easily offended on behalf of the game or its creators for no reason other than to avoid a negative feng shui in their browser and regardless of the complaint’s validity analysis and merit.

    one’s negatives feng shui is the other positives one.

    I know that there are Trolls and Idiots who just blurt “THIS GAME SUCKS” but there are just as many fanboys who blindly defend the stupidest of decisions with the same enthusiasm and lack of elaboration.

    that being said – the reason that I am here, is because of the criticism in Articles and User contributions which deem many as negative and uncozy – but i don’t really care about these people It’s not like I get offended by the fact that they can enjoy the game.

    And its the same reason that i don’t visit fawn sites like Diablofans.

  11. It’s either related to:
    * video games
    * to the forum members’ age and/or social interaction ability
    * to the massive hype (as far as D3 is concerned)
    * other
    The GTFO/RTFM attitude is more common in technically oriented message boards though.

  12. Self-pity FTW! While it does seem to be true that people love to pile on in the gaming community, has this guy ever bothered to take a look at–I don’t know–the sports, talk radio, or political communities? It’s not just the average yahoo calling in or posting vile crap either. When we have politicians calling for “second amendment solutions” to policies they don’t like, is it any wonder that this sort of vitriol filters down into every aspect of public life. Our whole society has become markedly uncivil. The online gaming community, however, is nowhere near the worst example. Oh–and contempt for your customers probably isn’t the best remedy either.

  13. Been part of many “gaming communities” and participated in countless forum discussions about them. Never have I seen this level of backlash at a game. Not just on the forums but also within my circle of real life friends who traditionally play PC games with me many of whom played D2 with me in high school. We don’t even waste our personal time complaining about the game at the bar like we use to anymore because we know now that it’s not going to recover from this. Only two of us still check the news on the forums for glimmers of hope.

    I posted about D3 disappointment rage syndrome (yes I suffer from it) at great length here earlier. Many paragraphs spent hashing out WHY people complain so much and for so long if they hate the game this much. So I won’t do that again but in short… yeah It’s got everything to do with poor decisions on the part of the developers and utter disappointment from the hardcore D2 fans that feel their hopes for the series (and expected release from their daily stress) were dashed against the rocks never to return.

    Garbage in garbage out we say. BUUUUUT I’m still an optimist to some degree. I’ll keep on checking the news and not abandon my old buddy Diablo so quickly. Always hoping that one day I can meet up with my friends at the bar and recite them some patch notes that actually address the MAJOR problems we had with the game.

    So far they haven’t even come close. I kinda popped wood a little bit when they said they would “fix” legendaries but that ended up being another ball buster. SO in my opinion the best news in the future would be reading that new blood and fresh ideas have been added to the staff… and of course the removal of Jay so no one is there to stand in their way (This is assuming that Activision isn’t standing in everyones way at this point).


    • I follow several blog sites for an NBA team, and it is very similar there. This player sucks, that player sucks, the coach sucks, the GM sucks, blah blah blah.

      I think there are several causes:

      * Those sites draw extreme fans who are intensely interested about that subject. As a result those same fans tend to get very irritated if anything goes wrong.

      * Real life is always a balancing act where you have to make compromises. I’d like to implement this feature, but I don’t have the skills/time/personnel to do it. I’d like to support all game modes, but we only have time for mode A if we want to release this year. Fans do not like or want to talk about compromises. They want everything and they want it last week.

      * It is much easier to be negative when you are Wizzer93 hiding behind a computer screen than when you are Bob Jones talking to a real person.

      * Over the top negative comments tend to draw a lot of responses. Some people feed off this attention.

      The think the most important thing Gaider said was that the things you read on these sites are not representative of the entire fanbase. It is just the loudest voices among an extreme group of fans.

      • You are right of course – the inflammatory comments are the ones that get the most attention. Threads are bumped mainly by the people who disagree with the original poster.

        Also, see your local new channel. What kinds of stories draw attention? It’s the crap that wins every time. Praise is boring to read and comment on.

  14. The level of hate is a function of the level of disappointment. D2 was so awesomely good that it created impossible expectations for D3. No game could possibly have met those expectations, especially since they were based on original D2 plus D2X plus years of patches, not on the original D2 alone.

    D3 would have been massively hated even it had been just as good as original D2. When D3 came out with a series of problems, the fall from expectations to reality was immense. Thus, waves and waves of hate.

    People keep coming back because they know what Blizzard did with D2. They know the level of awesomeness that Blizzard is capable of, and they keep hoping that Blizzard will do it again. And they very well might. It will be a process, not an event, but after patches and D3X (and D3X2?) and PvP and more patches, D3 could eventually meet D2-level expectations.

    At present, though, D3 keeps being judged by the impossible expectations set up by D2, and that is why it generates so much hate.

    • BS.

      As I consider Diablo 3 the BEST PC game to come out since WOW.

      That’s my opinion and in the game I am greeted with thousands of people who feel likewise.

      For those thinking this game has hardly any players: I am into ANY public group in ANY Act in 1 second tops.

      The number of NEW public goup forming stays above 600+ in prime time. That’s new groups formed per server PER MINUTE. That’s a steady playing public.

      —> PROOF that this HATE simply has NOTHING to do with D3 as a game.

      — > I predicted that the NEW WOW MOP expansion would be gathering HATE on Metacritic massively on launch.

      And it did: the MOP expansion was teared to pieces and got a 4.6 score on “users” on Metacritic.

      While the active players of WOW tell me it is probably the BEST expansion of WOW since TBC. Far more choices of play, far better world zones, better raids than the previous expansion.

      COD has … 2.2 on Metacritic.

      The answer is pretty simple: video games are mostly played by dudes in their puberty. HATE on popular things is THE thing to do these days: it looks cool.

      I tell you one thing: I pity the guys who REALLY played Diablo 2 a decade ago and STILL didn’t grow up.

      That’s the fait of video game forums these days. it is in the minds, not in the games.

      • If you really, honestly believe D3 and WoW are the best games out on PC, you should probably play more PC games. There’s plenty more out there that aren’t glorified treadmills.

      • So your first comment was ok. Your second comment started giving cramps to my belly. But now you did it again and I can’t stay quit:

        Do you really not realize, that the article and it’s sources are talking about both sides of the coins? As far as I remember you always were part of the other side: The side that puts every small critique or voiced opinion as beeing born purely out of hate (for the game/the company). So please don’t play big here, but take the article as an oppertunity to reflect about your own doings in the matter.

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