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Levine saddened by abuse directed at Vonderhaar and Phil Fish

"It can end up being counterproductive for the gamers' own interests."

"Don't play a violin for me. I've got a pretty good life and I get to do cool things."

In light of the abuse being heaped on developers like Call of Duty's David Vonderhaar and Fez developer Phil Fish, when I spoke with Ken Levine this week I asked him how he deals with abuse online.

"It doesn't upset me personally," he told me, after muttering how terrible it was to see some of the things directed at Vonderhaar over the last week - in response to Treyarch's decision to rebalance a sniper rifle, proportionality fans.

"Look, I'm very fortunate, Tom," he said. "Don't play a violin for me. I've got a pretty good life and I get to do cool things. I think it's more actually that it can end up being counterproductive for the gamers' own interests.

"Like, for instance, Vonderhaar. If I were him... Especially to start bringing your family into it. I mean, I've had people say threatening things to me. You know, it's like, why would he want to get up the next morning and go try?

"I don't want to speak for anyone, but you've seen some major developers starting to... You know, Phil [Fish] I think was probably a... Probably a bit of a... I don't know how well he thought out that reaction. I don't know him very well.

"But there are guys who I respect and like who walked away from the space because it's just not worth the trouble any more. Especially if you've got families and got lives. Everybody's entitled to do what they want to do, but just like the developer at some point is entitled to say, you know what? It just isn't worth it for me any more."

Putting unreasonable pressure on developers, driving them out of their profession or making them feel beaten down and disenfranchised - Levine's message was that these things will only hurt gaming in the long run.

"Most fans are genuinely really sweethearts to me - there are some people who aren't - and I mostly worry about for them, in terms of like I said the example of not including [cutting room floor] content that they could have enjoyed because it would have been such a distraction.

"The amount of pressure. Say if it was someone besides me, the amount of pressure to get DLC out, I could say, f*** it, let's cut half of it so we can get it out sooner. I'm used to the pressure, but there may be a guy who's not like me, who doesn't have the experience, who will give into that pressure and release something that's not as good because they feel that.

"And that's what I worry more about is how it affects games. As a gamer, game comes out, I hope it's good, and if I like it I play it and if I don't like it I don't play it, and I think you can get in a strange space where it ends up being counterproductive for the gamers. But for me, it's just part of the job at this part, but I don't think it helps gaming."

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Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell


Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.