Dark Places on the Internet

March 2, 2010

You might have heard by now about the promotion at Atari.com this weekend that has caused quite a stir in the Star Trek Online community. Unfortunately, that promotion isn’t available anymore, due to the controversy first sparked by some current subscribers on the game forums who felt that this sweet offer to entice new players was a betrayal by the game company. If you want to read more about the whole thing, you can take a look here. Personally, I’m not that fazed by the issue, even after my visit to the STO forums to see what the fuss was about. To be honest, I’m more disturbed by the state of things over there. I mean, seriously, what the hell happened? I can’t believe these are the same message boards I visited three months ago when I saw its members avidly supporting STO as the most anticipated game of 2010 for the Voodoo Extreme awards.

I don’t want to single out the STO community though, because I have to say I hold a distaste for the unfavorable aspects of all game forums. It’s like you can’t navigate them these days without tripping into a cesspit of negativity. Sometimes, it’s so bad that reading game forums actually gets me depressed. No, I don’t think all MMO forum communities are like this, but you have to admit, a lot of them are. There always seems to be a certain level of discontent, but not all of it is bad sometimes; once in a while, you’ll see a legitimate complaint here or a bit of constructive criticism there, and I think mostly we just accept the fact it’s the internet and you can’t please everyone all of the time.

But what happens when the bitterness reaches a fever pitch? That antagonism seems to spread, and you start to see the rage posts and general trolling that serve nothing but spread anger and hate towards the game and the companies involved. Sooner or later, you reach a point where it starts to seem like the entire universe hates the game and are ready to burn their developers at the stake, while the reality is that the majority of subscribers are probably satisfied customers, too busy playing the game to care about the forums or the haters on them. The forums might not represent the actual player-base, but it’s not hard to see how naysayers can drive people away when the ranting gets too aggressive, whether it’s simply from gamers being turned off by bad vibes to the extreme case of the recent STO sale fiasco that resulted in the lost opportunity to attract new players. With regards to that particular issue, I can empathize with both sides. Perhaps Atari did offer the promotion a little too soon, but I also can’t help but think that some of the head-shaking at the STO community has been very much deserved. And it’s not just STO. In general, it gets a little difficult for outsiders to treat a real problem seriously when the levels of nerdraging about anything and everything start to reach stratospheric proportions, no matter how justified a complaint is.

Why is it that so many MMO forum communities degenerate into such a sorry state? It’s clear that this generation of gamers has become more demanding over time, which isn’t necessary a bad thing when it drives game companies to bring us bigger and better games. But when higher expectations lead to a demand for instant gratification and an unreasonable sense of entitlement, it’s inevitable that things will get ugly. Regardless of what’s happening, the lesson here is: if you want to enjoy an MMO, stay far, far away from its forums.


  1. So… what was the promotion?

    • It was a sweet deal: $40 for the game and 90 days of play time.

      Too good to last.

  2. I completely agree. I mean, I like to go to the STO forums because, well, I like to read what the devs have to say.

    But MAN if they are not a dark, terrible place on the internet. I… I just don’t even… words do not express how bad I feel reading some of the drivel posted there.

    We bloggers gotta stick together.

    • And you’re completely right: happiness is predicated on avoiding the forums.

    • The worst part is that the STO community used to be great. I frequented their forums a lot last year because of a “friendly” rivalry between the SWTOR and STO peeps for the voodoo extreme award that I mentioned in my post, and I wanted to see how the communities for both games were doing in terms of garnering support.

      SWTOR ended up beating STO by a lot in that poll. There was also some…poor sportsmanship on the part of a few SWTOR members with cheating and trolling the STO forums. But I was so impressed with the way the STO community took that all in stride. I still remember thinking how well the STO people took it, keeping mature, classy and positive even in the middle of all that.

      Everything’s changed now.

      • I generally avoid the forums for any MMO, except for the dev tracker search. I think it is a combination of people having problems, trolls, and anti-fanboys that make nearly every MMO forum a cesspool to rival Mos Eisley. Most people that are happy with the games are online playing and only hit the forums when they’re at work.

        I would also add that avoiding the comment sections on most of the major news sites and blogs is a good idea as well. I’m certainly happier for it.

      • Forgot to mention, that it’s the small blogs, like mine and this one, where I’ve found the best discussions.

  3. I visit the forums but more so to know what’s going on as a blogger to some degree. Mostly though I scan the threads to see if its something i really need to click on and open to maybe learn something or ingame thing.

    For the most part i stay clear of the Discussion Thread because its full of people that just want to complain about everything and anything and then some. I pretty much just go to the thread specific thread like on Tactical or Ship specific and read what i want to know or keep up on. For the most part I stay clear of the forums, remind me of the WoW forums as well and why i never really ever go there either when i played that game for all my 5 years. Forums are like a gravity well, it sucks you in and reck your mind and outlook.

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