Out of all fan communities, gamers often seem the hardest to please. They also tend to be angrier and more volatile—perhaps because they spend their leisure time blowing each others’ heads off with automatic weapons. That could well account for the death threats received by designer David Vonderhaar after he issued a new patch for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Vonderhaar’s offense, as he tells it, was to implement a few ordinary fixes in the shoot-em-up military game—fixes that came down to differences of a fraction of a second. In particular, the firing rate of the Ballista sniper rifle, an apparent fan favorite, was slightly reduced for improved multiplayer balance.
The DSR fire time was 0.2 seconds. It's now 0.4 seconds. The rechamber time was 1.0 seconds. It's now 1.1 seconds. +— David Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) July 23, 2013
The sprintinTime was 0.25 seconds. It's now 0.30 seconds. SprintoutTime was 0.25 seconds. It's now 0.30 seconds. +— David Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) July 23, 2013
These changes didn’t sit well with some players, especially the snipers, who declared that Vonderhaar had spoiled their pastime. Here, for example, is a video of an incensed young man stalking angrily through the woods and declaring that he’s “coming for” Vonderhaar.
There were, of course, the more restrained reactions, but even these nitpicking complaints drew toxic, hostile, and violent comments, some of which rose to the top of the heap.
Elsewhere, an actual petition to undo the changes appeared on Change.org and has amassed more than 4,000 signatures so far—it appears on track to cross the pivotal 5,000-supporter threshold tonight. Titled “David Vonderhaar: Fix sniping in Black Ops 2,” its demands are blunt:
There are too many people that love sniping and so many more problems like LMGs, C4s, and Riot Shields that they should fix. Sniping has been ruined on Black Ops 2
Fix sniping in Black Ops 2
Dan Amrich, community manager for Activision, Call of Duty’s publisher, wrote an equally direct and unambiguous editorial on the matter of death threats:
Weapons are designed with pros and cons; they perform in specific ways for specific reasons. But if, in the course of millions of hours of gameplay and the data to go with it, weapons are found to be more effective or less effective than they should be to keep that performance balanced, they are adjusted. This has happened with every Call of Duty game that’s come out for the last few years, and it will continue to happen — a gun’s stats being adjusted should not be a surprise to anybody at this point.
Yet [Vonderhaar] often gets told he should die in a fire or kill himself or is a horrible person. If anybody thinks for a second that this is okay, it is not. But if the loudest voices in the Call of Duty “community” act like an angry mob instead, guess how the entire world views Call of Duty? Now consider that these Internet Tough Guy rants and demands are not unique to COD, but exist everywhere, in many gaming communities. This is why the world often does not take gaming seriously; this is why gamers are assumed to be immature, whiny assholes. Because the immature, whiny assholes are louder.
In other words, if the fanboys don’t like the game, they’re free to go join the real army instead.
Photo via GWIDTER/YouTube