[DISCLAIMER. I'm pretty passionate about this topic, which has translated into getting pretty sweary about people who probably deserve worse than just language thrown their way.]

I am really fucking angry right now. I am really fucking angry at quite a few people. Specifically I am really fucking angry at those people who think it’s ok to contact complete strangers on the internet and wish utterly horrible things at them.

Do you know what I’m not going to do, despite the fact that I’m really fucking angry at them? I’m not going to track any of them down and I’m not going to tell them that I want them/their families/their pets/their friends/anyone they’ve ever met to die/contract a terminal illness/wish harm on their bodies or their minds in any way, shape or form.

Do you know why I won’t do this? Because I’m not a monster, because I have the slightest shred of empathy for other people, because I (hopefully) deserve the label of sentient human being.

This is pretty obvious right? I mean, who on earth would ever think of doing this?

A lot of people on the internet apparently. It seems to be a growing trend for people who witness other people doing something they don’t approve of on the internet, to take the time out of their day to wish harm upon that person.

Surely they have a good reason though? The recipients of those insults must have done something pretty damned heinous to deserve those kinds of comments. Maybe they’re murderers, rapists or war criminals. That would make sense, even though I wouldn’t approve of sinking to such a vicious level, at least there’s some understandable rage motivating them.

Surely?

Ah, no. It’s because some people didn’t give out steam codes to a game when some other people think they should have. That’s the event that really set me off, reading the devs response (hosted by Indie Haven) saying that “Someone wished that I would get cancer“. What the actual fucking hell?

It’s also happened because someone on the internet decided they wanted to ask for money in order to talk about gender roles in video games, because some people didn’t like a game that some other people liked. As usual Jim Sterling’s given an excellent account of some of these instances.

Seriously. This is a thing that happens. It’s a thing that people are allowed to get away with.

OH BY THE WAY, if anyone’s going to try and argue that this is merely an abstracted rant. Well, one of Indie Haven’s co-founders, Laura Kate Dale, has been subjected to that sort of harassment and almost quit games writing last year. So yeah, if the arseholes had won, we’d no longer have Laura’s opinions, thoughts or insights. Let’s try and avoid that in future, OK?

I’m so angry about this that I can feel my chest getting tighter and tighter as I type, my heart rate is increasing, my palms are sweating. Do you know what I’m still not going to do? I’m not going to threaten these people. Nor do I want to. No one deserves the kind of treatment that is dished out to the people I’ve just used as examples, as well as the countless other people I don’t know about or haven’t had the space to mention.

No one deserves that sort of treatment. Not even the towering, looming, gargantuan fucking arseholes who dish out said treatment.

If you’re reading this and you’ve ever made a threat like that to another person, I don’t care who you are, but I’m telling you now:

You are a Towering. Looming. Gargantuan. Fucking. Arsehole.

What you need to do right now is close your eyes and imagine the person or people you’ve sent that kind of comment to. They’re standing in front of you, looking into your eyes.

Good.

Now repeat what you said via an anonymous or abstract message to their face, whilst looking into their human eyes. Can you do it? If so, then you’re beyond help and have my complete and limitless disdain and pity. If not, THEN WHY THE JUDDERING FUCK DID YOU SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Not only are you potentially damaging someone’s mental and physical health with that sort of vitriolic bullshit, you’re also helping to destroy the medium that you’re apparently so invested in that you’ll threaten another human being over it.

I dread to think of the number of aspiring game developers, writers and critics that may have had their enthusiasm (and likely their faith in humanity) crushed because of a stupid, pointless, immature and downright cruel comment.

If this line of behaviour continues then what would be the point of trying to create, write or publicly think about games on the internet? When, every time you put something out, you run the risk of suffering a torrent of virulence that you wouldn’t expect from your worst enemy. When every day you might have the your well being or those of those you care about threatened by some dipshit with an internet connection and not enough brain power.

Ultimately, all I ask is for anyone who is considering typing out a threat to someone else to consider whether they’d be able to do it in person. The anonymity afforded to us by the internet can be incredibly deceptive, sometimes we can forget that everything we do will impact a real human being in some meaningful way. I doesn’t matter how small, nor does it matter if “everyone else is doing it” or that we’re “just one voice amongst many”. It all matters, so give your actions the thought they require.

Hell, if you really, really want to, send those comments to this article. If you’re the kind of person who’d want to do that they I honestly couldn’t care less about what you think of me. However, if just one person who’s contributing more to the future of games than you could ever hope is spared a death threat and doesn’t think “fuck it, this just isn’t worth it any more” then I’ll endure all the threats your horrible little mind can muster.

About The Author

Contributor

Ben is pretty damned nerdy. If he isn't playing video games, then he's probably rolling some dice to hit goblins and thugs or designing, running and crewing a host of LARP systems. He lives in Brighton, because it's nice there. You can follow him on twitter @benrlmeredith