On how to deal with toxic indie and fan creators/contributors.

Hi folks. I‘m struggling a little bit with this. Gaming, including classic and retro gaming, is replete with toxic individuals. I mean, it’s a fan base with a large on-line presence so I suppose it‘s inevitable. That likely won’t change any time soon. But what becomes an issue is how to deal with indie creators and fan creators and contributors that are toxic and embedded in some fan communities. On the hardware side there have been indications that TerraOnion are toxic. On the indie side there‘s Watermelon’s Fonzie and the Paprium fiasco (sure, the game came out, but at what cost to contributors?) And on the fan translation side there‘s folks like NightWolve. How do we find ways to deal with this? Some fandoms are large enough they can route around this, like Mario and Sonic fandoms or the NES and Genesis dev scenes. It’s easier to isolate toxic individuals and companies and retain a sizeable community, though even in those scenes there are often people pushed out of being creative or downright harassed into oblivion. But for Saturn, PC Engine, NeoGeo Pocket, WonderSwan? What do we do there where the scene is small and messy and toxicity is inherently disruptive without ways to cut it off? How do we foster our communities while effectively trying to counter toxicity?

Maybe this is too big a question, but I've been mulling it over and I'm just not sure where it goes.

You fight a never ending ideological war for the sake of your own ideals and resign yourself to the fact that your struggle will never end within your lifetime.

There are plenty of ways of cutting it off. Well really just the one. You have to have zero tolerance for toxicity, bigotry, and anything else that runs counter to the values of the community, and you need to have the power to expel them from the community. If the people with the power to do that are not doing it, find a new space. That's my advice.

I really like this question and think this is a great discussion to have.

I do games repair and mods as a full time gig, so for a while I liked to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening in that scene. What I found, generally, was that many of the repair/modding accounts with lots of followers turned out to be pretty toxic (big headedness, picking fights online with randos and posting bad experiences with clients online for others to make fun of, and generally having lots and lots of oPiNiOnS about things). This feeling came to a head when a certain popular games modder picked a fight with a local discord community I'm active in. He even went so far as to recruit some sort of "double agent" who was sharing screenshots from our discord about the discussions we were having about the situation and posting them to his account for all to see. This is a private, invite only discord so we all felt a little invaded and generally weird about the whole thing.

So I just unfollowed all of them. I found smaller modding/repair accounts run by people who just post the work they do with informative progress logs and that's it. No drama or big opinions. I see your point about the community being so small that unfollowing toxic people that contribute to something you're passionate about can certainly narrow your experience, but I'd rather go without than be involved in a scene that makes me upset.

In terms of hardware makers who are the only ones making modding hardware to purchase... well... I normally don't condone this sort of thing, and I might get flak for this, but there are bootlegs available on AliExpress. If a client of mine is interested in a bit of hardware produced by a toxic person/company I try to very cordially and strategically, coerce them away from the hardware by offering alternatives without inserting my opinion into the situation.

And on the software side, I really wanted to play Paprium, but the business practices exhibited by the company definitely turned me off of wanting to support them, no matter how good the game looks... So I'll just wait until I find it second hand somewhere lol.

In this community, toxicity is certainly difficult to avoid, but with patience and a little sacrifice you can still have a good time taking part in it.

@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p106265 I wish I had a way to support this post without it being called a “like”, because I agree but I definitely don't like it (the situation).

It‘s a real tough question. I think in the case of specific scenes, if there’s nowhere to hide from the toxicity the only thing to do is build a new community, as difficult as that may be. that was kind of the solution here with these forums! In the case of milo and game modding/repair, a partnership with christa lee and aergan could potentially bring enough people together that a new sort of community could be forged. when it comes to PC Engine, Wonderswan, etc, it‘s a lot harder. these sorts of things can really only be started up by pillars of the community. But I have seen the PC Engine community try to de-toxicify and basically do a pretty good job of it with the pc engine proboards. it’s not a super active community, but it‘s not particularly toxic. The point is it’s totally possible to forge new communities, like we've done here, if you can get the right people on board.

With a game like Paprium it's very difficult for me. Honestly beyond the "business" aspect, which I don't care about that much, fonzie's "anti-woke" videos are the worst thing about him. I did buy Paprium though because it truly is the state of the art, and I feel a weird responsibility to be on top of it, and know about it, and tell people what it's like in both the positive and the negative respects.

In this case I'm (by and large) financially supporting ONE shitty person with that action, rather than a shitty institution, because realistically nobody loves fonzie and his social influence is not particularly strong. I certainly feel bad about it though, and it pretty much goes against everything I talk about re: putting your money where your mouth is! Him and Amazon are my two exceptions to trying to be a good person basically (lol, what a couple of things to compare against each other).

I do wish everyone could just be cool, but people don't wanna do that.

@“exodus”#p106431 I would just pirate that sort of thing, but I am pretty shameless.

@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p106438 that one's tough to pirate because it has special hardware on the cart that would have to be specifically emulated. (but maybe that has happened already!) I think that was in fact an anti-piracy measure of a sort.

There are a handful of people in certain hobby circles I know of that are unpleasant enough that I don‘t care to be involved with them at all, but are sort of inextricable from those circles as a whole. The big examples that come to mind for me are an admin of a large project’s discord and someone relatively high up (in public perception, at least) at a nonprofit. Keeping this vague for various reasons.

In the case of the discord, I know people who have personally been put off of the entire project because of this person. This person is not a developer, but the discord that they run is used by pretty much all of the developers and is the de facto space for news on the project. They typically let people get away with _just_ a little too much when it comes to racism/homophobia/transphobia, while also being vindictive and mean about relatively minor difference-of-opinion types of things. They tend to pick fights. They keep things in the realm of plausible deniability, but plenty of people in and around that scene know how they are, and will privately reach out to newcomers to warn them about their behavior. But because they're so central to the community around that project, I can't see them being pushed out.

The other one, it's someone who maybe seeks out a little too much credit and as a result has cultivated a pretty outsized profile for their organization. Privately, I know from a friend who worked in this (very large, respected) organization in a more "boots on the ground" role, that this person is not well liked among rank and file employees. They have a reputation for showing up on short notice, barking orders at the ordinary workers, then taking credit for things. Essentially, they're pleasant and cordial with people when they think it can get them something they want, dismissive and rude with people they perceive as beneath them.

They've maintained their position through a cultivated public persona and by being the person that journalists go to when they're writing about the organization. Additionally, they've got a very strong personal relationship with the founder of the organization, who runs it in a pretty top-down manner. These two have, on more than one occasion, gotten the organization into trouble (either with communities they've involved the organization with or legally) with publicity stunts. Eventually, they ended up getting this friend of mine who worked there fired by digging up some (private, non-work-affiliated) mastodon (early, as in before twitter got bought out, so not the kind of thing you'd run into by accident) posts criticizing the founder. They have something of an outlaw/roguish persona that they use to paint over harmful, irresponsible behavior, but then privately they're very authoritarian.

It sucks because in both cases these people have attached themselves to projects that are undeniably important and good. But because of their position, they're in many cases actively harming the projects and erasing the hard work of others involved, while still enjoying the personal benefits of being associated with the good work of those projects. There's kind of an understanding among contributors that, like, this person is not great, but also nobody wants to rock the boat. I don't really know how you solve those kinds of problems outside of waiting for an eventual self-destruction.

I mean it just sucks the stars from the sky. The amount of place I have had to sever ties with due to staggering mismanagement or allowing toxic people to fester and gain power is far more than I would prefer. I said in the early days of this forum that I was shocked I found a place to talk to other adults that wasn't filled with toxicity, ladder climbing, or enforced positivity. Anyways, power is boring and I happy that my contribution to games over the last 6 years has been quietly sitting in a dingy warehouse or basement and cleaning up and fixing stuff from the junk pile.

Just wanna say Paprium looks boring as hell now that I‘ve seen some clips. It’s like a physical nft lmao.

The apologia for Paprium makes absolutely no sense to me—even if you knew absolutely nothing about the developer or their personal and professional conduct, the games they peddle are completely inconsequential and they haven‘t had a monopoly on MD homebrew for a long time, so there’s no need to pretend they matter or to empower them to screw over anyone else.

@“exodus”#p106431 I‘m one of the mods over on Paul’s ProBoards forum and that toxicity thing is something I‘ve really wrestled with. It’s a hard situation to really navigate. Especially since some technical folks can be very prickly and not very tactful.

Lol I‘ll say it if other people won’t sentient6 sucks and so does the entire MiSTer discord. It really sucks that a project so cool has such a shitty community

@“TracyDMcGrath”#p106565 Oh yeah, that’s the one I was talking about. I’m still semi active on there so I left her username out just to be safe, but she really does make the community a less welcoming space. Very hostile person.

I figured, I‘m only there to look at the update channels so I don’t care if she somehow finds this kicks me out. I also know people who have shied away from the whole project because of her and I don't blame them

I think it‘s important to note whether someone is a bigot or if they’re just mean. In the former case they should of course be isolated, but if they‘re just an asshole, it’s uh…not good, but I can appreciate where they‘re coming from more, since by many accounts if you do something creative or useful and put it on the internet for free, people will bombard you with urgent requests for help that are solved by the FAQ, and when you don’t respond, they will threaten to kill you

Just thinking of the whole Tahlreth/AetherSX2 saga, or the retroarch bullshit stenzek has apparently had to deal with.

Sometimes I find online communities that seem to be right up my alley, and I read all the rules, follow them, and attempt to contribute, but everyone has an anime avatar, only ironyposts, and is more or less actively hostile to new members. It hurts my feelings that they don't want me around but my generous guess is that their community is a refuge from whatever IRL social pressures they struggle with, toxicity is a defense mechanism, and ultimately it's just not for me, and I stay away. Sad but best option for all parties

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@“tapevulture”#p106587 if they’re just an asshole, it’s uh…not good, but I can appreciate where they’re coming from more

I get where you're coming from, but plain old assholes can also completely wreck communities too, and I've seen enough folks completely drive away new members of their community by being impatient creeps. I get that it can be frustrating, but I think shittiness begets shittiness, and a bunch of those kinds of problems can be mitigated by better community management, either by having canned replies or being clear about community standards. I'm not so naive that I think that fixes everything, and threats are real problems that people deal with, but I've just never seen an example of a person being an impatient dick doing anything to clear up problems.

I mean look at Stack Exchange. I used to rely on it to figure out tough gamedev questions, and to help other folks do the same, but at some point like 10 years ago, I got tired of getting sarcastic let me google that for you links or getting unsolicited advice about what kind of game I should be making instead, so I gave up don't bother with it anymore.

I‘ve dealt with permutations of this a few times in the last couple years. A few years ago, I started to want to take fighting games seriously, but don’t have any friends that play. As a result, I went to look for help on the internet, and inevitably fell into forums and discords. I was going to local events up until the pandemic kicked off, but really quickly, like everyone else, my only way to interact with people was online.

I‘ve more or less completely severed ties with a lot of the FGC servers and forums because I don’t play fighting games all that much anymore, and more importantly, I felt like those groups were making me into a gross person. I‘ll say, I made friends with some really awesome people through online FGC stuff, but a bad apple here and there spoiled the bushel for me. The nice thing is, I can still enjoy fighting games (mostly) without directly supporting the toxic poop monsters I ran into in the FGC.

But, unfortunately, I have other interests that have such a strong, constant presence of shitty people with shitty behaviors and world views that are directly responsible and profiting off of the thing I like. The UFC, for example, is run by a vile man that has forced me to steal everything that I want to watch, which sucks cause I also want to support the fighters. But then a lot of the fighters are also pretty gross, so it’s all a crap shoot.

I‘m also into pocket knives, heritage boots/clothing, and beard care cosmetics or products. It sucks that all of these interests come with a ton of weird, toxic masculinity. I just want to be able to open a 50 pound bag of cornmeal quickly and easily while wearing a reliable pair of boots and having a beard that smells nice. I don’t need to be doing these things cause I‘m a TRUE PATRIOT THAT SUPPORTS THE POLICE AND JESUS.

As a result, I try my best to avoid companies and creators that provide something that can easily be substituted with someone else who doesn’t actively put out a shitty message. At the end of the day, most of the stuff that we play/buy/use wasn‘t made souly by one person and the chances of someone problematic being a part of the creation of that thing is pretty high. As long as the thing itself isn’t actively supporting something I disagree with, I‘m cool with supporting it.

And when you can’t find an alternative (the UFC in my case) I just steal that shit.

This is an interesting convo. Aside from toxic and shitty people, I also sometimes run into just, not sure how to describe it other than annoying people? I‘m on a few discords with some individuals who just put their nose into every single thing. They don’t say anything mean, or offensive but sometimes its just like c‘mon please just get out of here for a moment! It’s like shit how could we make this work better? Ultimately I'm like, maybe I should just not participate and go find something to do IRL.