Moderating the Overwatch community is "scary" - Jeff Kaplan

Moderating the Overwatch community is
Sean Cleaver

By Sean Cleaver

October 2nd 2017 at 6:04PM

Game director addresses the Battle.net forums to discuss abuse on forums and in the community against Blizzard

Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan, has taken to the Battle.net forums in order to address concerns about community moderation. This was in direct response to a thread started by a user that suggested the community team for the game is short staffed or too small to meet the necessary coverage from moderators.

This led to the forums becoming a bit of a minefield of criticism against Blizzard with complaints including a lack of focus on the community against the focus on esports, for example. This particular thread, titled 'Do you think Overwatch team simply not have enough people?' [sic].

Kaplan has been vocal about the game and addressing the community in the past, even in a humorous way as this video from media website IGN on their comment section demonstrates. This time, he wrote a lengthy reply to the thread to address the issue of developers being personally attacked for commenting back to users with complaints.

"One of the things we value as a team is the concept of doing more with less," Kaplan said in the post. "Even though I wouldn't say we're necessarily a 'small' team as modern development standards go, we're certainly not an overly large team either. We view ourselves as artists and craftspeople and we like to avoid that feeling of being 'cogs in a large machine'."

Kaplan eventually turned to the subject of treatment of the moderators from the community. "We do not hide behind online handles or layers of community managers and PR Spokespeople. Developers speak to you directly, using our real names.

"And if you'll allow me to speak openly for a moment -- it's scary. Overall, the community is awesome to us. But there are some pretty mean people out there. All of our developers are free to post on these forums. Very few of us actually do because it's extremely intimidating and/or time consuming. It's very easy to post the wrong thing and make a 'promise' to the community that no one intended to make.

"Also, because we are open with you and do not hide behind an anonymous handle (like all of you have the luxury of doing), we often times get personally attacked and threatened. Most great developers I know just love being head's down making or playing games. The 'public speaking/posting' part of the job is downright scary and intimidating. It often feels like there is no winning."

It will come as no surprise to Develop readers that this kind of issue is being discussed or that it is happening regularly. Kaplan is also not the first to draw light to the issue of developers addressing the gamers directly recently.

Last week, developer Charles Randall posted a twitter thread that discussed how candid developers were about the industry and how that was attacked by users on forums and comments sections.