Ex-Microsoft creative director discusses the "Internet hate phenomenon"

Adam Orth, who left Microsoft after his Xbox One "deal with it" comments drew controversy, talks about "Internet toxicity" at GDC this week.

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During a Game Developers Conference presentation this week, Adam Orth, who left Microsoft after his Xbox One "deal with it" comments drew significant controversy, opened up on what he described as the "Internet hate phenomenon."

As part of his presentation, called "Mob Rules: The Destructive Power of Opinion and Online Community," Orth explained how the spewing of hate affected him personally.

"I was becoming the next victim of the Internet hate phenomenon. It was an absolute feeding frenzy. My public and private life was fair game," he said, as reported by GamesIndustry International. "People began to distance themselves from me. I was dejected, ashamed, and embarrassed. I destroyed my career and feared being blacklisted by the industry. I went from income to no income."

Orth received death threats and some people even wished cancer upon him and his child, he said. But he's not worried about the potential for Internet threats to materialize into real-world violence. Instead, he said it's seriously sad that society has "regressed" to a point where the kind of behavior and comments sent his way are acceptable when someone has an opinion other than their own.

"Most developers don't even raise an eyebrow at this because this is the new normal. As an industry we've become desensitized to this insane behavior because it's overwhelming, ubiquitous, and unstoppable. Somehow we've devolved while moving forward, and there's no going back," he said.

Orth explained that he's seen an "us versus them" theme rise to the surface between developers and players. This negative trend has the potential to spiral even further out of control, he said.

"It's chilling," he said, recalling a quote from one developer he spoke with saying this issue "represents a total breakdown of how our industry fundamentally functions and foreshadows possible dark times ahead. Internet toxicity has the power to sh** on something beautiful and destroy it."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

988 comments
anarky23
anarky23

I'll admit the guy messed up big time but death threats towards him and his family is just over the line.

the2ndvalentine
the2ndvalentine

It's not us versus the devs, it's us vs the publishers. Pubs who care more about shareholders than releasing a good game. It's shameful. 

sidzero
sidzero

"Instead, he said it's seriously sad that society has "regressed" to a point where the kind of behavior and comments sent his way are acceptable when someone has an opinion other than their own." - Because, you know, freedom of speech (no matter how idiotic that speech may be) is TOTALLY a "regression", and not one of the fundamental values that our country was founded upon. Don't like it, Adam Orth? Then deal with it.

darren_peach
darren_peach

I would think that when you take a stance of no compromise, Which he initially did right in the beginning, He was putting a target on his back. Since when do Microsoft decide what is fair considering we are paying for the product ? Always Online ? Pure Madness. That was the one thing that upset so many. What these guys need to understand is the consumer is always right. They are providing a service and if it is not satisfactory, We reserve the right to make it known. When this guy resorted to insulting gamers, He crossed a line. You reap what you sow. Given the Prices of Consoles, The widespread market penetration globally, I am not surprised that he received so much flak. I am a fan of the Xbox 360, But I was immediately put-off the Xbox-one when those initial facts were revealed. Having said that, Without our complaints and objections, MS would not have changed it and it could have had a adverse effect on the brand. I own a PS4 and I still intend on buying the Xbox one. It just needs to come out in my country,

Phrase_Universe
Phrase_Universe

I can't believe this guy is playing the victim card after what he said. And he wants you to buy his upcoming game. First class DBag.

Takeno456
Takeno456

The guy was a kind of a jerk and all I do agree. However nothing he said should warrant death threats and actual hate against him and his family. The problem with the internet is the rational "middle line" is very small. People will realise the problem and call it out which is a good thing but then some people take it way too far and then it starts a landslide. Kind of reminds me of politics.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

He put himself in that position by posting such a controversial statement publicly online while representing a company and implying the ideals of that company while at the same time insulting anyone who thought differently about the topic by using the infamous #dealwithit hash tag.

Death threats and personal humiliation are not acceptible and it's sad that things went that far and that gamer's seem to think that he "deserves" this treatment. No he doesn't. He deserved to be let go of his job for causing such a public controversy on the eve of the announcement of Microsoft's new console. That's as far as that should have gone with him. At that point the discussion should be directed at Microsoft, the company in charge of the Xbox One.

I do have to admit some guilty pleasure reading all the memes.

Omega-316
Omega-316

He got what he deserved. Deal with it son.

nicecall
nicecall

this guys a dbag.  he insulted gamers with his comments and wonders why he got so much hate

isshiah
isshiah

The exaggerated reactions are horrendous.  However, he did display an arrogant attitude, not an 'opinion'. He should have been put in his place in a far more civil manner, imo.

RynTM
RynTM

Death threats and things like that are completely out of line.  What this guy is failing to realize is that he was representing a company and it's products with his comments.  His "Deal with it" comment was the equivalent of Microsoft giving gamers the middle finger, and a lot of Microsoft's woes in the current generation can be traced back to this attitude.  Yes, even before the comments and E3 gamers were expecting Microsoft and Sony's to pull a lot of DRM crap this gen, he just gave a target, and Sony was smart enough get out of the way of our rage and poo flinging fan. 


Adam rightfully lost his job, and should no longer be working in the game industry.  On the bright side, I hear McDonalds is hiring, and I hey, they may even get a bump in the minimum wage.

zintarr
zintarr

He was dealt with by the consumers he spoke about like trash. Therefore I do not pity him in the least as there are many people who can do his job better and are more worthy of having it.

daviz88
daviz88

FROM MICROSOFT TO TITAN FALL BACK TO MICROSOFT

really gamespot?

Nepti
Nepti

There's no excuse for anyone who threatened this guy and his family with death and cancer - those people know who they are and they are no better than trash. At the same time, this guy fails to acknowledge that the backlash wasn't about his opinion but about how rude and condescending he delivered his opinion to his own potential customers. Nowhere in this article does he acknowledge or apologize for being unnecessarily rude.

nigelholden
nigelholden

Like others have expressed, death threats and other such behavior is totally unacceptable. But he seems to be blaming that on losing his job. "...went from income to no income."  There are plenty of people who have lost their jobs for saying something stupid, either in front of the wrong person or publicly. His comments were very unprofessional and an insult to many of the people who pay for the products he was involved with. I certainly wish the guy no harm in any way, but there's something shady about him not taking responsibility for his actions and implying that it was a product of pure internet hate. 


The problem with internet hate is that a small number of people can make a lot of noise. But that's hardly the whole of it, despite what some seem to claim. 

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

Orth, a smart man would have learned by now that there is a time to keep his mouth shut.  You might want to take my advice.  ~grin~


#dealwithit

Doctor_Mo
Doctor_Mo

You know, at a fundamental level, this is how government should work. What Microsoft experienced was a democratic response to a flawed policy.  So they got rid of the policy and the spokesperson. If Orth wants to blame anyone, he should blame Microsoft. It was Microsoft's policy (not Orth's). And though Orth was insensitive to customers, people were really reacting to Microsoft's policy. The power of the people caused Microsoft to backtrack on the policy. They threw Orth under the bus as a token of sacrifice. The reason government doesn't work in a similar manner is because corporations hold the power, not the people. However, when corporate interests are threatened (say for example in Arizona recently) then corporations will do the same thing that you saw the people do here - and government will back the heck up.


I have no problem with the people's exercising of power through voice. The internet provides that capability, and for the time being, it's relatively unchecked. It won't always be, though. I'm sure over time, you'll see increasing attempts to neutralize this type of power. It's too effective not to.

750sho
750sho

Your mom goes to college.

perphektxero
perphektxero

While it is completely wrong and unnecessary to wish death or cancer for what he said, he opened himself up to those insane people.  He did not think about his comment before he spoke, how that was a reflection on Microsoft, and not just himself.

toecutter00
toecutter00

Orth needs to stop going around with these public speaking tours like he's some kind of victim because it's tremendously insulting to victims of real and actual tragedies. Everything that happened he brought upon himself with his inflammatory remarks. It's well past time he took responsibility for the s h i t e  storm that he created.

doublelsquared
doublelsquared

This guy should not be near the industry, deal with it Orth.

cboye18
cboye18

Lol this guy keeps coming for more.

He probably still hasn't dealt with it yet..... 

lomsha
lomsha

Waaaah, when you are a public figure you have to watch what you say or deal with the consequences.

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

Microsoft is all over the news here because they are doing damage control. They were caught red handed spying on Hotmail accounts without a warrant. The internet is going nuts, everyone is grabbing pitchforks and heading to MS headquarters as we speak. Things are not looking good for MS right now.

gullgullgull
gullgullgull

Has Mr. Orth considered dealing with it?

ziseknsa
ziseknsa

Hey Adam, I own, love and enjoy my Xbox One, its by far the best console I've had and I've been gaming for a long time now, but you know what dude?....You've got problems and people hate you?.....DEAL WITH IT!!!! 


what you did was really stupid!

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Lol what is this...?  Guy in a prominent PR kind of position tells entire customer base to suck it up, deal with a bunch of terrible policies, and then he makes it out like he's a victim of "hate"....  uhhh,  yea dude, pitch is somewhere else...

crognalsen
crognalsen

Hate is bad for Microsoft because happy people equal more sales.  If no one says anything bad about your product more people are likely to try it.  For instance if no one raged about DRM and digital only on the Xbox One then Microsoft could just push whatever they want on the public without worry of backlash.  Obviously happy people who don't complain about things make their lives easier.

crushbrain
crushbrain

Wait a second... he posted the toxic comment "deal with it", and HE is the victim? lol

NFJSupreme
NFJSupreme

People on the Internet are idiots. A lot of group think and sheepish behavior. Everyone just following the loudest person. People don't think for themselves. Just look at the anti xbone arguments. You hear the same shit over and over again. No real thought just regurgitating what someone else says. But when you get off the Internet and talk to people who don't spend their time trolling the Internet and don't go to message boards and just base their opinions off their own interests and likes and their view on the xbone is a lot different and lot more positive. My coworker told me yesterday that even though he is a Sony fan no one is really talking about the ps4 and that the xbone looks really sexy whenever he sees it. Clearly he doesn't spend his time on the Internet listening to group think. He has his own thoughts and opinions. Basically what I'm saying is be careful with online polls, opinions, and trends. It often comes from the lowest common denominator of society and doesn't always represent what real people think. It's why the xbone is selling well even though if you come and listen to the idiots commenting on this site you would think no one wanted the thing.

berserker66666
berserker66666

Guy tells you to "Deal with it" and expects no backlash from the internet? He's delusional.

xtraflossy
xtraflossy

Instead of owning his blatantly stupid comment and accepting the consequences, he will spend the next few years trying to analyze ways in which it's "not his fault" and try to convince other the same.


Nice.  

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Easy: Such self-entitlement generally receives a punch in the face by somebody when done into the real world. In the internet people can openly expose their stupidity/hate/both without consequence.

They explained quite well in "Reality Check" last year I think it was.

se007
se007

@sidzero Freedom of speech is not a freedom to threat or to insult someone. You could be sued for such actions IRL, you know.

Omega-316
Omega-316

Nothing wrong with death threats if its for POS like him.

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

That is pretty much what I wanted to say

MJ-X
MJ-X

@Nepti

Very well said and i agree with every single point mentioned.

blackace
blackace

@toecutter00 Maybe, but no one should be ridiculed for having an opinion different then other biased people. Wars have started over stupid shit like that.

Karlinel
Karlinel

@crushbrain  Indeed, he suggests we should deal with it, but didn't like it when we dealt with him? 

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

@NFJSupreme

In other words what you are saying is that your coworker shows how much he can think by himself by saying the Bone looks sexy?

It doesn't occur to you that maybe people want the best value for their money and this is the closest thing to thinking by oneself?

l_skipper
l_skipper

@NFJSupreme Some people tend to buy things just because they think something looks nice and sexy.  

Some people say : Ignorance is bliss..

Blackwand
Blackwand

@blackace @toecutter00  

Sure he should.  He posted a condescending message to the people his company sells to while a representative of said company.  And now he doesn't acknowledge his part in the entire debacle.   Ridicule is all he warrants right now.