How to NOT Ask for Help

27Feb12

I know, I know, I owe you the second part of my usability-aperture-science-inspired-gameplay-user-test-session-blog-entry. And I will provide you with more insights on how to pick the right test players, what to keep in mind and the equipment used for our test sessions (and the tricky parts that comes with the software).

I need to vent, though. Today was an extraordinarily frustrating day when it comes to the communication side of my job. I’m a game dev. This means that I am passionate about games and about my job. It also means (in my case), that I am socially awkward and, more often than not, a horrible misanthrope. And yet, I manage to always be nice, helpful and polite when it comes to bugs, issues and silly and not-so-silly questions that boil down to “This is not working.” I make sure to go the extra mile, to make sure that everything’s working, everything’s ready and up and available in no time because we, as a company, and as individuals, do care about our player’s happiness level.

Most of the inquiries and bug reports are nice and polite. Or, brief and not really impolite. They never attacked me nor game developers in general. So far, all the e-mails, requests and inquiries I’ve received were resolved in a positive way and everyone was a bit happier at the end. Until today. Today was the day when e-mails came in that asked for something we couldn’t provide. Not because we were too lazy to provide or didn’t bother – because we were the wrong people to ask. Imagine you bought a book by one of your favorite authors on Amazon. And there’s something wrong with your payment, so you contact the author of the book to fix this. And when the author informs you that he wishes he could do something about it but he can’t, because it’s out of his area of control, you call him an ugly, greedy author, who should care more about this customers, even though he tried to inform you who to ask – would this be the author’s fault, or should the customer contacted Amazon instead?

The situation today was similar. A product was purchased via a third-party site. An update to the latest version was provided and announced on their site. Somehow, the update didn’t work. When I pointed out that we provided everything we could from our part and provided the customer with the customer support information of the third-party site, we were called ugly developers, who  charge for every update and drive honest customers away. Mind you, we got almost nothing out of this deal, and yet, if the customer had simply pointed out that something’s not working, we would’ve gone the extra-mile to find a solution.

Don’t get me wrong, all the others make me happy. Happy gamers make me happy. It makes me happy when I can help someone. In general, I am happy. There’s always one, though, just one who can overshadow all the others for a short time. A very short time, because I am already focusing on the others.

As I’ve said – I needed to vent a little.

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