A tweet went out from Blue Box Game Studios on October 16, in which the staff announced that after months of death threats, they would be providing "IP addresses, logs, and camera footages" to the authorities. "All we ask...is just to give us space and to let us work on Abandoned," the image on the tweet stated. "Please."
And once again, I am deeply disappointed in the segment of my hobby which has not the slightest concept of decorum, restraint, or basically acceptable behavior.
A message from us. Human beings. pic.twitter.com/q2V5j4f4ZB
— BLUE BOX Game Studios (@BBGameStudios) October 17, 2021
All Hope Abandon
The source of the current madness centers on the upcoming game Abandoned, intended as a PlayStation 5 exclusive title. An app on the console was promising updates and hints about what might be coming. On August 13, the first teaser trailer came out (you can view it here). It was...short. Very short. In fact, as teasers go, it was painfully short to the point of uselessness. And given the run-up to that release, it is perhaps understandable that a certain degree of frustration would be engendered. All that effort for a ten second clip that could have been put into a tweet and probably gotten more favorable response in the bargain. But for all the understandable unhappiness, it still continues to baffle me at a basic level what the hell people think they will actually accomplish making death threats.
Considering some of the insane hype that was preceding the teaser ("It's the next P.T.!" "It's Kojima's secret project!" "It'll be a new Silent Hill/Metal Gear Solid mashup!"), one could legitimately say the people most disappointed by the reveal set themselves up for that disappointment instead of just waiting patiently. You know, like a normal human being would. Yet that still doesn't seem to have deterred people from acting out on their worst behavior.
Straight Path Lost
I have never, in the last 20 years, been able to figure out the mental leaps of logic that takes a person from "I'm unhappy about this thing" to "I will kill you," especially when the likelihood of somebody acting on said threat is statistically pretty slim. Not zero, you understand, but you hear about the empty threats more often than you do the actual execution. And they are empty threats, if that preponderance is any indication. Still, the seemingly smart move is to treat the threat as real until such time as you can discount it. Which isn't a great deal of fun for the people who are the recipients of these threats.
And while it is seductive to ascribe this behavior solely to teenagers whose brains haven't caught up with their hormones, it's not something exclusive to that segment of the population. It's the college grads who haven't quite realized they are no longer in the frat or sorority house. It's the thirtysomethings who haven't quite grasped that the real world does not cater exclusively to their tastes and whims. It is even, God help us all, the forty-and-fiftysomethings who have somehow passed into a toxic realm far beyond the mere curmudgeonly, where "Get off my lawn!" is less a complaint and more of a battle cry for a contemptible struggle.
Incontinence, Malice, Mad Brutishness
Cards on the table, folks. Did Blue Box's marketing people screw the pooch in a truly spectacular fashion? Unquestionably. People were hungry for information and the studio's response was beyond tone deaf. A little mystery is a good thing, but as J.J. Abrams could probably tell you, there comes a point where you have to reveal something to keep people happy. Of course, the speculation was so completely batshit insane, even a reasonably detailed reveal would have caused disappointment. And, much as it pains me to admit, probably even a few death threats. Managing expectations is a skill which far too many game studios don't seem to be terribly adept at, but when the crazy is this deep, not even the most adroit wordsmith or spin doctor would have been able to rein them in.
Dante wrote in The Divine Comedy a line which feels almost tailor made for this scenario. "We to the place have come, where I told thee/Thou shalt behold the people dolorous/Who have forgone the good of intellect." A flood of people have forgone the good of their intellects to shriek not merely imprecations but threats of physical violence at a company, and for what? What possible outcome is likely here? Nothing good. The fact Blue Box is even mentioning "physical footages" suggests at least one idiot has been trespassing, and if said idiot gets caught, it's likely a whole bunch of other charges will get piled on besides criminal trespass. All for indulging a moment of mad brutishness over a marketing snafu!
Are our lives really that devoid of genuine problems that we're threatening to kill people we've never met (and most likely will never meet) over a stupid marketing ploy? Or are we truly so powerless that we're reduced to empty threats against "faceless" corporate entities? There are bigger fish to fry out there, folks. There are problems which can be addressed, using the good of our intellects, to accomplish something. To quote Dante one last time, "I crown and miter you over yourself."