Lead Dragon Age Writer on Bioware Forum’s “Toxic Environment”

David Gaider, Lead Writer of BioWare’s Dragon Age game series, novels, and comics, recently wrote about why he avoids the Bioware Social Network and other such “toxic environments.”

Gaider was replying to a question that asked if he was aware of how many people avoided the BSN “like the plague,” referencing how “utterly gross the people there tend to be.” While Gaider was too polite to agree with the “utterly gross” aspect, he did agree “that the overall tone of the forums has become increasingly toxic.” He explained that he avoids the forums these days because of the negativity, saying:

“Because spending too much time there starts to make me feel negative— not just about the games we make, but about myself and life in general. That’s not a good feeling to have.”

Anyone who has visited a fan forum knows that “feedback” — and I use the term loosely — can often come in the form of unjustified (and borderline psychotic) personal attacks. Gaider went on to address the fact that constructive and insightful comments can be found among the ruckus, but that they are few and far between. He said:

“And I’m sure there are also people there who would say that there’s plenty of useful, thoughtful feedback. Not all of it consists of angry ranting. You can, in fact, meet and talk to some very keen and intelligent posters. And that’s very true. If it weren’t true, I wouldn’t go there at all. Yet 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.”

How does he deal with forum-posters that attack him?

“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.”

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11 Comments on Lead Dragon Age Writer on Bioware Forum’s “Toxic Environment”

JawaEsteban

On January 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Fair analysis, signal-to-noise ratio and all that. Having been around BSN for a few years now, I’d say things started to take a slightly uglier turn after DA2. However, it didn’t go completely off the rails until ME3. A lot of folks felt that BW was not only ignoring them, but actively spitting on them…so they spit back (can’t say I really disagree, either). Hasn’t been the same since.

TheDog

On January 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm

In all honesty, I can feel where he’s coming from, but from a consumer who is fed up with Biowares antics, it’s really hard to feel sorry for him or any of them. They brought all, and I mean all, of this on themselves. It was bad after DA2, with all the reusing of tiles and locations. Turning it into a coridor shooter instead of the roaming adventure it used to be. Plus tons of other thing too lengthy to put on here. After ME3 and everything they did or didn’t do, brough H.E.L.L. on earth to there doorstep. They in no short terms told there fans what they thought of them. I’m not a violent person, but if they had done that to my face, I have to say, I would have broken bones. I was very ticked at there lack of respect for those that actually put them where they are today. The fans.
Now I know that not everybody hated it, (boy I wish I was one). I would much rather listen to all the hate, then to actually feel it as well. I would rather love the game, and feel confusion at why everyone doesn’t, then feel bitter and can’t even pick up and play the other two just because of how I feel towards the last. It just feels pointless and hollow.
For those who enjoyed the last one including the (groan) endings. Count yourselves the lucky ones.

SweetPea

On January 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm

It’s all their fault. They couldn’t have handled the whole thing worse than they did. They blamed us for not understanding the endings, now they’re blaming us for saying negative thigns about their game.
What do they expect?

Dratkin

On January 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm

JawaEsteban has it exactly right. The fans are not attacking for the most part they are REACTING to several bad decisions about games we greatly care about. The fact that they want to play like our criticisms are unwarranted and ignore our concerns just adds Gas to the fire.

Murmillos_Nine

On January 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I think they could fix it.. it wouldn’t be over night, nor would it be easy, but any start in the right direction is better then letting it continue to slide in a bottomless pit of noise.

Most people, when they post on the forums (or they are there often enough it almost seems like it’s a 2nd job for them), they want to be heard and they want to be acknowledged. There are going to be a few who show up, spout off, watch the fall out for a few days and then leave; but most will have a invested stake in what they say and how people perceive them on the site.

How quickly do you think people would straight up once the writer started selecting specific individuals (because of the quality of their postings and feed back) and allowed those people to have private thread discussions with the writer. The writer knows those people are true passionate fans, who are also mature and respectful. Yea they may not like your work, but at least their criticism is approachable.

Right now, there is no reward for being respectful; and honestly, there is more reward for causing issues, flame-bating, and low-brow toilet humor. Short of personal attacks, you can be as nasty and vile as you want.

R-man

On January 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

They really did do it to themselves. They need to stop acting like its the fans fault, it’s ridiculous, and just when I think I can’t lose anymore respect for BW and it’s employees, it happens again. I completely agree with JawaEsteban and TheDog. You guys definitely said it, and it’s sad. Believe me, I’d be so very happy to say it’s our fault and that we’re going too far… but… then I’d be going against what I believe and I don’t like to do that. I don’t go to the BSN. I did a bit while the worst of the ME3 backlash was going on, but then I just began to give up shortly after they released the Extended Cut. I stopped going to the Retake ME page on Facebook, and now whenever I think about the ME series, I’m happy with the journey I took many many times, but I’m so unsatisfied with the lost potential and even more unsatisfied with how they dealt with it. They were pretty childish about it all, so BW as a company definitely deserves what ever childishness they’re getting. It’s all very sad.

Aedelric

On January 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Well, stop making bad games Bioware, problem solved.

Matt

On January 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm

It’s pretty simple, Bioware used to make excellent games, now they make terrible games and thats the reason for all the anger on the forums.

RachealM

On January 10, 2013 at 6:26 am

Yeah, I stopped going to the BSN after every single topic would turn into “Bioware sucks because of ME3″. It is next to impossible to have a civil conversation there. And it’s sad because David Gaider was one of the most fan friendly guys on the site.

James

On January 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Bioware screwed up
Bioware blames fans
fans get angry and respond back
Bioware futher denies and further blames fans
Fans reacts and gets even more vicious.

That is the why the forum sucks. I haven’t gone back since DA2 when I saw how they moderated it. Surprised there are still people posting there.

Lee

On January 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Look if you upset your customers and then disrespect them there is going to be a backlash.