to join the CVG community. Not a member yet? Join now!

Rise above internet hate, says Adam Orth

"What they're saying reflects their life, not yours"

Adam Orth, the games executive whose life was transformed following his infamous #DealWithIt message on Twitter, has urged developers to rise above abuse from anonymous internet users.

Speaking to an industry audience at the GDC 2014 event in San Francisco, Orth recounted the extraordinary volume of threats and abuse he received when making comments about always-online functionality in games consoles.

Adam Orth, speaking at GDC 2014 (Credit: GDC Official Flickr)

At the time of his message, in April, outraged internet users had assumed he was defending Microsoft's always-online internet policies for Xbox One, which had proven to be deeply unpopular.

"I was becoming the next victim of the internet hate phenomenon. It was an absolute feeding frenzy. My public and private life was fair game," he said, as quoted by GamesIndustry International.

Orth resigned from Microsoft, via e-mail, four days after posting his tweet. He went into hiding, locking his social media profiles and - due to threats from people claiming they would destroy his personal finances - restructured his bank accounts. As the death threats kept pouring in - some of which targeted his family - Orth moved home.

"People began to distance themselves from me. I was dejected, ashamed and embarrassed. I destroyed my career and feared being blacklisted by the industry. I went from income to no income," he recalled.

"The reason that internet threats are terrifying is not the possibility of the realization of a violent act; it's that society has regressed to a point that this behaviour and discourse is an acceptable and expected response to something someone doesn't like or agree with," he added.

Orth's comments come months after a new report found that online harassment targeted towards games developers is driving key talent out of the industry and is placing unproductive pressure on creators.

Orth, who sounded out views from within the games developer community to aid his speech, claimed that "as an industry we've become desensitised to this insane behaviour because it's overwhelming, ubiquitous and unstoppable".

He cited one dev who purportedly told him: "I just don't want to make games for these people anymore."

But at the core of his message is that game creators should not stop pursuing their dreams because of internet abuse.

"Be the shining example to inspire others to action. Never forget the joy you get or that you give by illuminating it with video games," he said.

"Life is too short to worry about anonymous internet activity. You have to look inward and block it out. What they are saying is a reflection of their life, not yours. Fighting back on their level is pointless. Eventually they tire out. Keep building, keep dreaming."


Adam Orth reveals indie game inspired by Twitter imbroglio

"This is how I chose to ... 'deal with it'"