For as long as I can remember, over the course of fifteen years of online gaming one thing has been certain – encountering gamers online has always involved having to wear your thick skin and endure a potential barrage of misery. I can remember as far back as Counter-Strike 1.6 where it wasn’t uncommon to hear racial epithets screamed at the top of someone’s lungs, or to see a degree of abuse that in the real world would be borderline abusive and violent. For better or for worse, the internet is a Pandora’s box for the digital age. In bringing us closer together it’s also given us a glimpse into the psyche of humanity, and sometimes what we see is too ugly to bare.
Looking back to the release of No Mans Sky last year, it’s hard not to think of Hello Games’ much talked about space exploration epic as anything other than a burning wreckage on the side of the road. in reality it’s a story we should be more familiar with – A meteoric rise in interest, insane levels of hype and some slight dishonesty on the part of Hello Games means that it was almost destined to fail and if you’ve been around the block for a while in games media you’ve probably seen this story before. Daikatana, Spore and many others were victims of the exact same fate that No Mans Sky suffered. So when the game finally landed on the alien planet of gamer culture its landing gears cracked and fell off in orbit and sent the burning hull of Hello Games screaming down to earth with a bang. People were angry. Angry about the skeletal, bare bones experience of the game, frustrated that it promised the world and didn’t deliver, and bitterly disappointed with Sean Murray of Hello Games specifically for not being honest. And while the game was certainly disappointing, the whirlwind of criticism surrounding Hello Games last year reached a fever pitch that was difficult to watch. Anyone in tune with the zillions of Reddit threads on the topic at the time was either joining in the with their own flaming torches and pitchforks or couldn’t bear to look at the carnage.