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Professional Jealousy Trolls

Armed & Dangerous - Trolls and Game Development

I happened across an article on Reddit. Quite by accident, I might add. I was looking for something else and the article entitled Have You Had Any Jealousy Breakouts When You See Other People’s Games Succeed? piqued my curiosity.

Green-Eyed Monster In Your Closet

As I started reading, the poster’s words resonated with me. Not because I’m jealous as such, but because I used to feel the same way.

He goes on to say that some game developers seem to have more success than others and are upvoted more. Some, like him, have minimal success and more downvotes.

There could be any number of reasons why this would happen. It could be an undynamic presentation or it could be poor wording. Or even (as the bulk of the replies suggest) lack of proper "marketing". Something to grab people’s attention and keep it.

As a teen I was jealous of other kids who get to play video games while I didn’t have any hardware to play on. As a young man I was jealous of other people who get to be in relationship while I was just a nerd that no girls would like. Now as a self-promoted part time game developer, I often feel jealous when I see other indie developers games become successful.

Jealousy, notably in the workplace, raises its ugly head often. The boss promotes so-and-so over you; you feel undervalued because you work harder than them and feel that the promotion should have been yours. So that little green-eyed monster peers over your shoulder, whispering in your ear.

It’s inevitable and part of who we are. It’s human nature to covet something that other people have.

Professional Jealousy

Professional jealousy in game development is no exception. This is especially true since (as mentioned before), some game devs seem to have more measured success than others. Whether you work on your game full time or part time and dedicate countless hours to its development, there always seems to be someone else whose success is greater than yours.

Trolls - Here We Go Again
Trolls – Here We Go Again
Some developers have successfully sold copies of their games. Others, despite an awesome marketing and promotion campaign, don’t have the same success. Again, the jealousy kicks in.

However, very few game devs who make it big are exclusively solo developers. You often see in the credits that this person helped with the graphics or that person with the scripts. And so during the creation of your game, you often turn to them for advice and insight.

Some people are more skilled in certain areas, but lack the skillsets in other areas. For instance, I’m absolutely hopeless at creating RTP-styled or pixel art characters from scratch. I often wish I could, yet never take the time to learn and practice. My skills are in writing and, to a limited degree, scripting.

So, really, there shouldn’t be any need for jealousy. One person isn’t generally going to know all aspects of game development and produce a successful game on their own. Only a comparatively small percentage of game devs travel that route and succeed.

When I was younger – and, perhaps, more naive – I possessed a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. I started with the 16K version and eventually most of my friends upgraded to the 48K model. Obviously, I felt the pangs of jealousy because I couldn’t upgrade or play the same games they could. And, in turn, when I started programming in machine code (rather than just BASIC), they became jealous of me.

The Troll Posse

That brings me to the "Professional Jealousy Trolls", with whom I’ve had ample experience. And not just with game development. I won’t bore anyone with the details, but suffice to say that I was rather in the "public eye" at one point. The Troll Posse, as I like to call them, hit. And they hit hard! All because, I guess, I was more successful than them in the same field. I was stalked and tormented, and my reputation was eventually destroyed. I lost my business and, for a while, maybe even my sanity.

I’ve witnessed many occasions where a game developer has lambasted another one because the "game was better than theirs". And I’ve seen a Troll posse slamdunk game devs mercilessly for whatever reason. But, why really?

Also in my experience – and many others’ experiences – the Troll Posse is highly active on YouTube. Most likely you’ve heard about the false accusations of copyright infringement, which YouTube is obliged to act on to avoid any lawsuits. In many cases, a group of trolls were responsible for that and they even made money out of it.

As far as game development goes, sadly, there does seem to be a lot of professional jealousy there too.

Hmmph! That One’s Better!

A prime example that springs to mind is when I first put Otherworld on another gaming site (before it had its own blog proper). I won’t mention the name of that site because it’s no longer worth it.

Trolls - Against A Brick Wall
Trolls – Against A Brick Wall
I put some screenshots and demo video up and, within a short amount of time, was low-rated. No reason given, just a one-star.

Some of my subscribers were producing similar games to mine in the same genre and, presumably, using the same engine. Otherworld has some high quality graphics because of the software I use to create them. I also took a bit of time on presenting the page and writing the wording, all part of my marketing campaign.

A friend, who also knew one of these game devs, mentioned that they were complaining about how my game was better than theirs. And they threatened to low-rate it to "knock the game off its pedestal". (At that point, it had 10 five-star ratings.) So, it makes me wonder! I have no proof, of course, apart from what my friend said. It’s still too much of a coincidence to dismiss.

However, my question is this: How can you really rate a game based on a few screenshots and video? Surely actually playing it can give grounds for a fairer rating?!

You Troll YouTube

Some YouTubers have produced some mighty fine tutorials, especially on RPG Maker. Some of their methods are innovative and some of their ideas are refreshing. I’m often left with the thought "Why didn’t I think of that?" But, am I jealous? No, of course not! Well, maybe a little because I didn’t think of that first!

That said, would I dislike the videos because of that? NO!

There’s absolutely no point. We learn from one another, especially in game development. We share ideas, thoughts and techniques and help one another with what we’ve learned, then we then use them or adapt them for our own needs.

The unscrupulous game dev will steal those ideas and claim them as their own, without giving proper credit. Or they proceed to make the same, but vastly altered, types of videos. Sometimes they even go so far as to dislike the originating video.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again: Low-rating or disliking videos without comment don’t count. Without something in the form of an accompanying comment or criticism, it’s meaningless.

Most YouTubers – if not, all of them – are generally more than happy to respond to comments as and when they can. This includes answering questions, clarifying certain things in the video or responding to constructive criticism and ideas for improvement.

To me, wherever the low-rate or dislike takes place, if you don’t accompany your rating with some kind of comment, you’re a "trog". That’s not as bad as a troll, who generally purposefully reacts negatively, whether out of professional jealousy or some other reason. It’s still a descriptor for a person rating badly without comment. If you genuinely don’t like something, you genuinely don’t like it!

All About Confidence

I’ve been involved with RPG Maker since RM95 first found its way online and with game development for much longer.

Once upon a time, I was a confident person, eager to share my knowledge and discoveries with others. After a series of knock-downs, my confidence was really low. So, I often lurked in the background, tentatively offering what I’d learned. Yet stayed away from the full beams of the limelight.

Because I’ve started gaining confidence, notably with RPG Maker MV, I decided to start emerging from the woodwork and share some of my techniques and projects.

First and foremost, I do this for me, sometimes just to prove that I can do it. If it’s more of a challenge, the more I’ll work on it and, when I find a solution, will share it with others. If even one person can benefit from and use the plugins I write or the tutorials I produce, then that makes it worthwhile.

With that said, I care nothing for those who don’t give feedback. After all, that’s how you learn. Others’ experiences and knowledge help a great deal, especially with those starting out. That person, in turn, might know something that you don’t or might be skilled in an area you’re not that proficient in.

There’s absolutely no need to be professionally jealous because, maybe, the person you’re jealous of might be jealous of you! They might be more experienced, but we each have our own talents. And we each have something to share or contribute, even if it is negative!

Yet, how are we meant to know if we’re not told the reasons, whether positive or negative in nature?

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