After updating his Formspring feed on multiple occasions throughout 2010, veteran RPG designer Josh Sawyer has decided that it would be easier to just open up his own blog. His first entry offers an opposing view to Jeff Vogel's opinion that developers should steer clear of their own forums:
Many creators make products to sell to people. It's our job. Well over a million people just paid around $50-$60 USD for something I helped make. If it doesn't work right or if they feel the product was misrepresented, it makes sense that they would be upset. The extent to which their reaction is justifiable or reasonable depends on what's going on, but sometimes, we actually did do something really bad. Sometimes, we can step back and realize that if we experienced the same problem on our own, we would kick our own (collective) asses.
We have to accept that we make mistakes and we have to understand that it can really ruin someone's day. What we make is entertainment, but it's entertainment that can just as easily generate crushing lows as euphoric highs. A while ago, one of my co-workers received an e-mail from a gamer saying that she credits one of our games with saving her life. It shocked my co-worker. I've received similar e-mails in the past, going all the way back to to my early days at Black Isle. It shocks me every time it happens as well. I make video games, most of which I don't even think are anything to get excited about one way or another. Sometimes it's hard to accept how much what we make can impact people, positively and negatively, but this goes back to what I wrote above: reality is still out there. Sometimes we make people really happy. Sometimes we really upset them. Most people have no strong feelings about what we make. They look at it, poke at it, get bored, and move on. That's life. It's important to accept and understand these things.
And sifting through all of that stuff, you're going to see a lot of harsh words. Some of it will be at your company, some of it may be right at you. But after a while, you can take anything. You don't need to get angry. You don't need to feel bad. There's no word, no phrase, no type of insult, no emotion that you can't brush off. If you're honest with yourself and level with others, you can take whatever's thrown at you. Accept the helpful, even when it initially stings. Reject the irrelevant, even when it feels good. As long as we care about what our audiences think, we've got to be willing to dig through some mud to understand it. If it helps us refine our techniques, improve what we create, and be more honest with ourselves, it will all be worth it in the end.