Video games invoke more passion in their fans than in any other medium. While this shows the love people have for gaming, there are those who move beyond mere fandom and into the realms of dangerous obsession.
The ugly side of some video game ‘fans’ appeared once again last week, after it was announced that upcoming space adventure No Man’s Sky had been delayed. The developer said this was because there were "some key moments [that] needed extra polish."
It was Kotaku’s Jason Schreier who first reported that the game’s original release date of June 21 had been moved to August 9. Once the news was officially confirmed, some people actually blamed the reporter for causing the delay by “forcing Sony’s hand.” Schreier, who quoted GameStop as a source, received at least one death threat for his article.
But it was No Man’s Sky’s developer, Hello Games, that became the main target of these hateful attacks. Sean Murray, head of the UK-based company, tweeted that he had “received loads of death threats this week,” and jokingly added that he’d turned Hello Games into the house from Home Alone.
I have received loads of death threats this week, but don't worry, Hello Games now looks like the house from Home Alone #pillowfort— Sean Murray (@NoMansSky) May 28, 2016
"Tell me when its safe to remove the marbles and oil from the stairs," Murray said. "It's getting really cumbersome, and I need the toilet."
While Murray's laudable response to the threats shows he’s not going to let them affect him or the Hello Games team, the entire incident has been both unbelievable and embarrassing.
The fact that people are threatening to end lives because of a video game is reprehensible. But sadly, as anyone who remembers when Treyarch design director David Vonderhaar received death threats after the guns in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 were tweaked, this sort of thing isn’t totally without precedent. What makes this case particularly unusual, however, is that the reaction comes from fans of an entirely new IP that no one has even played.
Not sure these fractions of seconds are worth the threats of violence. +— David Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) July 23, 2013
Other websites have been hit with negative comments, too. While not straying into the realm of death threats, some people have been extremely critical of publications that are “too forgiving” when reporting on games being delayed.
It’s true that many titles don’t arrive on their original release dates theses days, but there are genuine reasons for this. Developers don’t enjoy disappointing fans, but they want that final product to be of the highest possible quality.
Often it's better to delay a game, sometimes more than once, to add a bit of extra polish - as was the case with The Witcher 3. While it’s true that a postponement doesn't automatically mean a game will ship without problems - Assassin's Creed: Unity can testify to this - at least it gives devs more time to work on areas that could be improved.
Ultimately, waiting seven extra weeks to play a game isn’t grounds for sending death threats. It’s barely a good reason to get angry; annoyed and a bit upset, perhaps, but if you find yourself frothing at the mouth with rage because of those extra 49 days, maybe it’s time to reassess your priorities.