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IGDA working on offering resources for harassed devs

IGDA working on offering resources for harassed devs

August 29, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

Yesterday, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) issued a statement condemning online harassment, personal threats and "doxxing" incidents in the game industry.

The statement reads, in full:
"Over the last several weeks, game developers and affiliates have been the subject of harassment and 'doxxing' attacks, including threats and posting of home addresses. While we support diverse viewpoints and healthy debate on the issues within our industry, we condemn personal attacks such as these which are not only morally reprehensible, but also illegal in many countries. We call on the entire game community to stand together against this abhorrent behavior."
This broadly-worded statement is almost certainly inspired by the online harassment, hacking attempts and personal threats that have dogged industry members like Zoe Quinn, Phil Fish and Anita Sarkeesian for more than a week.

Gamasutra reached out to the IGDA with questions about why the organization waited to take a stand and what further steps its taking to support developers in the face of online toxicity. IGDA executive director Kate Edwards provided the following answers on behalf of the IGDA board of directors:

Why did it take so long for such a short statement to appear?

Edwards: The IGDA and the Executive Director regularly comment publicly on the topic of harassment. It does not serve our membership to act capriciously and any public statements on behalf of the entire organization can not be done lightly. However, given the recent escalation of events involving game developers, we decided it was important to issue a concise statement that would vocalize our objection to such activities and be a call for solidarity of the industry behind the issue.

What is the IGDA planning to do to counter harassment?

With over 120 chapters worldwide, one of the most important things the IGDA can do is to continue to serve its key role as a spokesperson for the community. We are also working with IGDA members to provide developers with a specific means to seek support and counseling in the event of harassment or other issues. Additionally, we are in the process of developing content that will help developers respond to this issue for the Resource Center on the IGDA website.

The IGDA has also offered basic advice to developers in the past, and we would like to see these recommendations reposted:

1. Report Threats Immediately: In most places, it is a crime to threaten violence online or post personal information with the intent to harass or embarrass. If you receive an obvious threat to harm you someone you know and/or your property, or someone tries to harass you by posting your phone number or address, report this to your local law enforcement immediately.
2. Don’t Engage: Responding to harassers tends to inflame and escalate the situation. Quite often harassers take action to see if they can get a reaction. They want you to respond, to show emotion. If they do not get a reaction, the situation will often dissipate.
3. Gather Personal Help through Your Support Network. No game developer has to work in a vacuum. In addition to the IGDA, your family and friends, you have a broad network of colleagues who will understand your situation. Seek their personal support and comfort, not only for your own peace of mind but to also help them understand potential risks.
4. Don’t Internalize the Threat. What you’re experiencing is the outcome of a person who is not only mean. He/she may have personal, mental health or social adjustment issues. His/her comments should not be interpreted as a reflection on you or the value of your work. It may simply mean that person has impaired judgment.

What can an organization like the IGDA do to help developers and other industry members in incidences such as these?

The IGDA will continue to serve as a key support mechanism and resource for game developers worldwide. Developers have a place to get the information they need, find support from peers and colleagues and know they are not alone as they cope with any issue. We encourage the community to reach out to us when they have a need.

Gamasutra recommends that developers concerned about their security take steps to protect their accounts before they have a need to do so.

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