The lines between criticism and mockery get especially blurred in the digital world, though; because we can’t see a face, sometimes we forget there’s a person on the other side of the screen. In the case of Mass Effect: Andromeda, one of EA’s employees, Allie Rose-Marie Leost, was viciously attacked over Twitter because people thought she was a lead animator on the team (therefore responsible for the facial inconsistencies).
BioWare responded that those reports of her involvement with the game were false—but even if she had worked on the game’s animations, the tweets were horrifying. The more polite messages suggested that she should be ashamed of herself, that she ruined Mass Effect for everyone, and that BioWare should have hired someone talented instead of a woman. (Yeah, those were the polite ones.)
I see similar harassment across the internet on every topic under the sun, and in online gaming, especially. I love playing team games like League of Legends, which involve working together for a common goal. If you don’t work together—if even one person does poorly or decides to go off on her own—you are more likely to lose the game. And while a lot of support and forgiveness goes around when I’m playing with people who know and love me, that’s harder to come by when I’m on a team of strangers. A lot of blame gets thrown around, and cruel comments are not uncommon.
The weird thing is, those unhelpful comments often cause players to mess up further (or become frustrated and simply quit the game, meaning you’re now playing on a team of four against a team of five). The mockery doesn’t help; it makes things worse. But players can be so caught up in being right that they forget about any sense of righteousness and the humanity on the other side of the screen.
When we can maintain a safe distance from those in the crosshairs, degrading others is easy. Those tweets attacking Allie Rose-Marie Leost for “botching” her “job” certainly weren’t constructive. Attacks like that inhibit creativity rather than support it; they have the potential to cause shame and paranoia in the people who have worked so hard to create something beautiful. There are mental, physical, and spiritual costs to this kind of degradation, both for the attacker and the victim.
A Christian Response to Wise Critique
It is important to be able to accept wisdom from others, and the key to doing so is humility. Just consider how many verses in the Bible speak about its value:
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Prov. 11:2).
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
I could list many, many more. (Check out Proverbs alone for more such humble poetry).
For a company like BioWare, it must be difficult to address the complaints of so many from seemingly all sides. Yet it appears that they are willing to listen to players’ genuine frustrations. As difficult as it is for an organization to respond to criticism with humility, though, it is even harder for an individual. We don’t always have guidelines in place that keep us from biting off each other’s heads.