Return to Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert will no longer be blogging about the surprise sequel’s development following the rampant spread of abuse and personal attacks on his website.
Gilbert shared the news in a comment on a post featuring game’s trailer. “People are just being mean and I’m having to delete personal attack comments,” he wrote. “It’s an amazing game and everyone on the team is very proud of it. Play it or don’t play it but don’t ruin it for everyone else.”
“I won’t be posting anymore about the game on my blog. The joy of sharing has been driven from me.”
If you visit Gilbert’s blog and scroll up from his comment, you’ll find a sample of the kinds of posts he was dealing with. Fan distaste for the sequel’s upgraded art direction appears to have escalated to (as Gilbert described) personal attacks among commentators.
And those are just the comments Gilbert left up. There are likely worse ones he had to remove from the public eye.
Voice actor Dominic Armato, who is returning as the voice of Monkey Island protagonist Guybrush Threepwood, addressed the negative comments on Twitter. “For a community that fiercely defends its medium as art, there are an awful lot of people who do their damndest to treat it like a dumb commodity,” he wrote.
Armato noted that the fan backlash to the art direction of the Sonic the Hedgehog film appears to be a motivating force for fans displeased with the new art style. “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Sonic referenced in the past 48 hours.”
It goes without saying that extreme, motivated anger over something as low-stakes as a change in art direction is disheartening. Watching one of the video game industry’s talented veterans have to endure abuse after working to revive a beloved franchise is even more baffling.
Organized abuse against game developers and game development staffers has taken on new and pernicious forms since Gamergate in 2014, and it continues to be frustrating how social media platforms do little to intervene when such harassment is taking place.
Though Gilbert is a one-man band trying to maintain his personal blog, such harassment frequently foments on other platforms before spreading to smaller sites unable to moderate comments at scale.