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."
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