Note: All opinions expressed herein are opinions of the author and not that of HTL.
Since I came to work on HTL, I've learned to have a lot more sympathy for BioWare. When the shit really hit the fan over ME3's ending, there were a number of people asking the Devil's Advocate question across the internet: How would you feel if you worked really hard on something and people came back at you with how much they hated it? Honestly, I was sympathetic to that idea, but since joining HTL, I have come to truly understand the weight of it.
Never before in my life have I felt like my time or effort was truly worth something. I struggled for years - decades - just to be functional. As a person with a sever mental handicap, I have never been independent. I might never be truly independent, but that has never stopped me from trying. I have to try; it is in my nature to view everything in life as a challenge worth overcoming, a philosophy that relates back to why I am a gamer in the first place.
It is not that I am not intelligent that has held me back. I struggle with anxiety and depression, so much so that simply obtaining the necessities for survival - food, water, clothing - are often avoided to a point of downright unhealthiness. I don't like to admit that I am disabled, but the truth is that without acknowledging that disability, my accomplishments in spite of it sound more like failures. Some things that can seem relatively mundane, like earning a high school diploma, become major feats when you consider how many obstacles I had in my way.
So you can imagine just what a huge thing it was when I found myself, rather unexpectedly, picked to be a member of the editorial team here. Suddenly, I was not just someone without a clear purpose in life. I was someone who had a talent, and that talent had been acknowledged in a way that gave me an opportunity to do some very real good.
And then the gravity of it all struck me. Now, I was a person with real responsibilities (and not for the first time, in case you were wondering), and some degree of inherent respect, undeserved though it might be. That little ribbon under my avatar marking me as a member of the editorial team gathers attention, and sometimes that attention makes for things that are not necessarily good. I've gathered some level of notoriety as a result, and all the downsides that entails.
To be clear, as a member of the editorial team, I have very little real power. I write... editorials. That's pretty much it. I string words together in a fashion that is, hopefully, pleasing to the eye as well as informative or insightful. I am not a moderator nor an administrator. I cannot move trolling or harassing posts to the archive or discipline other members. I can't move threads that are posted in the wrong place. I have no access to moderator privileges whatsoever. I'm merely a writer.
Of course, lots of people here on HTL don't know that. I couldn't place a number on the percentage of members that might believe I have more pull than I really do, as I am not a mind reader and I don't have access to Cerebro, but I do occasionally get asked questions I have no business answering and I get requests that I have no power to fulfill even if I wanted to.
It pains me to receive complaints about HTL. I want so desperately to help and to make HTL a healthy, safe community for open discussion, debate and the promotion of gamer/developer relations that I nearly come to blows at times trying to fight for it. I've received complaints from one aggrieved party that they feel like other members are treating them unfairly and trying to bully them into silence. On the other hand, as soon as the accused party receives any sort of admonishment, then they feel like their free speech is being restricted. It is, very clearly, impossible to satisfy all parties. If you ignore one, they feel hurt and desire to leave. If you react and try to protect the safety of all members, then those you protect them from immediately react harshly.
But that all really ties back to that question: How would you feel if you worked really hard on something and people came back at you with how much they hated it? It's a powerful feeling, when you discover that people are angry because of something you tried to do for them. It's understandable that people might be upset, but just because they are upset does not mean you weren't at least trying to satisfy them from the get-go. Sometimes you fail. It's a fact of life. There is no way to please everyone, and sometimes you might please no one, but it doesn't negate the fact that you went into it with the best intentions and you feel hurt that people accuse of you actively trying to upset them
And that is where I've truly learned to sympathize with BioWare. I don't forget their failing with the ending of ME3, but I can understand that they genuinely thought they had the right idea, misguided though it might be. I can respect them for trying to do the right thing and know that they weren't trying to hurt me. It doesn't change my opinion that their attempt was misguided and avoidable, but I can at least understand where they are coming from and why they might feel upset that so many people seemed to genuinely despise them for it.
And with that, I have one last thing to say: I implore you, beg you, every member of HTL, please try to understand that we are not your enemy. We are doing the best we can, and we are only human. We truly wish to create a safe, open community, and that is a lot harder than it sounds.
Why I Can Sympathize With BioWare
Blog entry posted by Breefolk, Jul 10, 2012.