Being Nice Isn’t That Hard, Folks

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I’m sure a lot of you have seen the whacky images coming out of Mass Effect: Andromeda. The goofy facial animations. The silly walk cycles. All of it kind of looks like it was developed by an AI who was then told to go ahead and be in charge of animations for a game and the only material it was given to learn from was the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ sketch from Monty Python.

I know, given the title of this article, that might sound a little bit hypocritical. But that’s just a general comment on the game’s animations. It’s true, it’s valid criticism, and it’s the kind of thing video game journo’s and, perhaps, all of us, should be allowed to comment on. Especially considering even the developers have mentioned it, and that no, they’re not going to fix it in the day 1 patch.

But that’s not what this article is about. It’s the catalyst for what this article is about, though. Some people have taken the criticism of the animations in the game far beyond a simple ‘hey, this game is pretty goofy!’ sort of thing. As trolls and a certain type of entitled gamer are want to do.

Recently, some false information came out that Allie Rose-Marie Leost, an animator for EA, was in charge of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s facial animations. Immediately upon learning this, there was backlash all over Twitter. The really gross kind I’d have to put a trigger warning in front of, like death threats, sexual assault threats, accusations that she only got her job through sexual favors, all those colourful sort of things we’ve come to expect any time anyone does anything someone mildly disagrees with.

And, of course, this information was completely incorrect and it came out that yes, she was an animator, but no, she didn’t even work on the game in the slightest. And Bioware themselves put out a short statement on Twitter about the whole incident.

So. Where does that leave us now? In a realm of people getting mad at video games, apparently. Yes, sometimes that’s fine! If you love the Mass Effect series, it’s understandable that you might be a little upset. If you saw someone saying things you felt unwarranted about your favourite video game, you might get upset. But if your immediate first course of action is to go out and sling all kinds of accusations and threats toward people and even their families?

Firstly, that’s unacceptable in any way. Secondly, why? What makes you so defensive that you feel like this is the only way you can voice your opinion? What’s going on with your life and inside your head that you think this is an okay thing to do? Is it because Twitter lets you be some kind of anonymous voice on the internet?

While you may get to remain anonymous, someone out there doesn’t. Someone out there cops the brunt of these tweets. Sometimes hundreds of them. Or more than that, even, for big games like this. Some real life person has to sift through all of these and, while there’s a block function, it’s hard to press block and turn off the internet when your life revolves around making content for the very people that are being rude. A few blocks can’t drown out an ocean of disgusting things being flung your way. Your  families way. Hell, your pets way. That’s the lengths these people go to.

I’ve been playing video games for as long as I remember. I’ve been using the internet for a heck of a long while. And while sometimes I roll my eyes at games, I post things pointing out all the flaws, I never get nasty. Because it’s just so much easier not to be nasty, and also, because I try to be a decent human being. Real people put time and effort into creating these games. Real people with lives and families. Real people with their own mental health to look after.

Personal attacks have nothing to do with criticizing games. Threatening someone’s life isn’t a great way to go about telling someone you’re displeased with their product, as opposed to, say, ‘gosh, I have an issue with this game and here’s why!’. That’s the sort of level headed criticism that might get listened to and have your problem be fixed.

Being nice isn’t that hard. Really, it’s not. I’ve taken it as a personal policy to find something I like in games that are otherwise terrible. To say one nice thing about every game I play. Because I know real people worked on it, and they might realize that, yeah, it’s pretty terrible in places, but that doesn’t negate the hard work they put into it. Animations are one small part of this game that isn’t even out yet.

At the end of the day this is all just a very round about way of saying, why are you getting so mad at video games? Even if they’re your whole life, like they are mine, why?

Take some time to sit back, chill out, and think of how your words might affect real life people. Evaluate criticism of a product vs. criticism of a person. And try to find at least one nice thing about every game you play, no matter how awful.

Be positive about games, but also think critically about them.

Most of all, just have fun. Isn’t that what games are all about, after all? When did we lose that part and decide that when we don’t like something, we get to harass people for it instead of talk about why it was bad and how they could fix it?

Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Have fun.