The Federal Bureau of Investigations has put out an offer to the International Game Developers Association to crack down on the growing problem of harassment of video game developers.
Kate Edwards, executive director of the IGDA, told reporters recently that FBI officials approached her at a conference in July to offer the Bureau’s assistance and to inform her of its capability in taking on such a task. The FBI has been made privy to a significant rise in harassment aimed at game developers.
A senior writer with development company BioWare was forced to leave her job with the company in 2013 after receiving several death threats from anonymous gaming fans. Additionally, a creative director at Microsoft reported receiving what he described as a “tidal wave” of harassment emails after he posted statements regarding his support of exclusively-online gaming devices on Twitter.
One of the more serious threats came against John Smedley, Sony’s CEO of Online Entertainment, when a flight on which he was a passenger had to be diverted because of a bomb threat for which a gaming hacker group took responsibility. An online petition recently circulated among game developers that asked fans to exercise a greater level of “tolerance and acceptance” for those who develop the games that they love to play.
Edwards said that the IGDA has begun working closely with the FBI to establish a support group specifically for game developers who may suffer mental health problems resulting from such harassment. The majority of the threats are about issues surrounding the platforms that video games are played on. The developers have been looking to make all video games compatible with online platforms, which has angered fans who enjoy the console format they’ve grown accustomed to, which is restricts game-play to gamers located within the same room.
Other threats have come as the result of various opinions about certain elements of the gaming community that developers have posted on their social media pages – opinions that some gamers don’t agree with.
FBI officials say they are well aware of how widespread the threats are becoming and are committed to investigating, locating, and prosecuting the individuals responsible for issuing such threats.