Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet fires 2 writers over Twitter drama

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A few days ago, on July 3rd, Youtuber and AreaNet Partner Deroir replied to a tweet by Jessica Price about mmorpg characters.

Price didn't take kindly to Deroir's tweet and replied with

What followed were a few of tweets from Jessica Price and Peter Fries, who at the time was defending Price but has since deleted his tweets.

Fries:
"Here's a bit of insight that I legitimately hope he [Deroir] reflects on: she never asked for his feedback," he said. (The tweet has since been deleted, but here's a cached version.) "These are our private social media accounts - imagine you're an astronomer and you start sharing some things you've learned in the last few months since you began a research project observing Saturn, only to have observation techniques explained to you by a layman."

When one Twitter user said he was being "embarrassing," Fries added, "Today is a national holiday. It is our day off, after working hard for months on our most recent content release. If I'm being embarrassing and unprofessional, it's because I'm enjoying a beverage in the sun in my backyard and this nonsense is being directed at someone I respect. Jessica is great at her job and deserves to be treated with respect, was the gist of what I was reacting to."

They've since been fired by ArenaNet, who had this to say,

"Following the public spat, Mike O'Brien responded to a thread on the official Guild Wars 2 forum on the topic.

Recently two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players. Their attacks on the community were unacceptable. As a result, they're no longer with the company.

I want to be clear that the statements they made do not reflect the views of ArenaNet at all. As a company we always strive to have a collaborative relationship with the Guild Wars community. We value your input. We make this game for you.

We are committed to fostering open, constructive dialogue with our community around our games. Earlier this week, two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communication, and they are no longer with the company."

Source(s): https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/arenanet-fires-guild-wars-writers-1202866649/#article-comments
https://www.gameinformer.com/2018/07/06/two-writers-fired-from-guild-wars-2-developer-after-twitter-argument



Holy shit, this is a mess. I can, in a small way, get where Price is coming from. It's annoying to have people who 99% of the time have no idea what they're talking about come and explain shit to you. But her reaction to Deroir's post was incredibly intense for what was said. It would have been better for her to take the chance to educate him or, since it's obvious she wasn't in the mood for discussion, ignore him.

I also think ArenaNet's reaction was a bit much. I do think a reprimand was in order, since as employees Price and Fries are representatives of ArenaNet whether they like it or not, but firing them was a bit much. This serves as a good reminder that Twitter is in fact not a private forum. Everything said is said to the public, can be read by the public, and can be replied to by the public. No matter how private you'd like to think Twitter is, it isn't.

So pretty much what happened to MovieBob. Price apparently has a history of being shitty on twitter. I think AreanaNet had to distant themselves from one of her twitter rants in the past as well. Funny how she acts all tough but played the sexism victim card the first chance she gets. She's an embarrassment to female devs.

It's a big over reaction on her part by the looks of it. And part of what boggles my mind about Twitter.... If you don't want anyone to comment on your thoughts, maybe just have a private blog as a journal? In fact, why even post them in the first place? If you only want colleague input, maybe have a separate and private chat system of some sort?

As for the dismissal..... seems kind of harsh in my book. I believe a reprimand from the bosses and her making an apology would have been the end of the matter. Or just the beginning - who knows in this day and age.

Good on ArenaNet for standing up for their fans. It's a rather refreshing change of pace from how most companies seem to operate these days.

Kudos to ArenaNet for kicking this monster of entitlement out on her ass. Here's a hoping more companies will realize that treating their "communities" like subhuman tributaries ain't gonna fly. I don't even MMO, but if I was gonna, I would go with Guild War 2. As for Peter Fries, it's funny. All he did was jump in and stupidly whiteknight for the loony. Without knowing what went down internally, it's almost as if he got fired just so that they could say they fired a man too.

The media reaction is GamerGate all over again, of course. The usual suspects are howling the usual tune. I trust many of us will remember this the next time the hacks pretend to serve the public even a tiny little bit, and not just their cronies in The Biz.

ex951753:
Price apparently has a history of being shitty on twitter.

What, siding with cancer against humanity is not proper etiquette?

https://twitter.com/Delafina777/status/1000045432007938048

If y'all expect dev accounts to be PR accounts, PR accounts are gonna be all you get.

But then, I follow pg_kamiya, so maybe I'm not a good baseline.

Captain Marvelous:

Holy shit, this is a mess. I can, in a small way, get where Price is coming from. It's annoying to have people who 99% of the time have no idea what they're talking about come and explain shit to you. But her reaction to Deroir's post was incredibly intense for what was said. It would have been better for her to take the chance to educate him or, since it's obvious she wasn't in the mood for discussion, ignore him.

I also think ArenaNet's reaction was a bit much. I do think a reprimand was in order, since as employees Price and Fries are representatives of ArenaNet whether they like it or not, but firing them was a bit much. This serves as a good reminder that Twitter is in fact not a private forum. Everything said is said to the public, can be read by the public, and can be replied to by the public. No matter how private you'd like to think Twitter is, it isn't.

Like you said, it's frustrating.

This was the thousandth cut, and the people jumping in immediately after with all the outraged "how dare you" probably didn't help.

But as asson as the hasty YouTube videos and the ant man tweets started coming out, the writing was on the wall. A subset of gamers have had it out for price for years, and they're good at the outrage game.

While game developers take a lot of shit, and I'd love to see them take less shit, in this context, Price is clearly in the wrong. Nothing about Deroir's post has anything to do with gender, nor is it presented anything other than a suggestion. A suggestion that Price is under no obligation to take, mind you, but there's no rationale for construing it as toxic and/or sexist feedback.

Oh hey, just checking in to see who the ardent free speech defenders are on this one, and who are the hyper-sensitive snowflakes who insist on taking offense at every little thing on social media.

Exley97:
Oh hey, just checking in to see who the ardent free speech defenders are on this one, and who are the hyper-sensitive snowflakes who insist on taking offense at every little thing on social media.

Yes, about as predictable as the esteemed members of the indispensable social institution of the Fourth Estate spinning the story here into a poor female dev defending herself against "harassment", really, isn't it?

But then, I'm all too glad to call this a grave; not being the one calling for Nobel Prize winners or literal rocket scientists to be hounded off their jobs for jokes or choice of attire, this definitely isn't the future I chose.

Ogoid:
not being the one calling for Nobel Prize winners or literal rocket scientists to be hounded off their jobs for jokes or choice of attire, this definitely isn't the future I chose.

Ogoid:
Good on ArenaNet for standing up for their fans. It's a rather refreshing change of pace from how most companies seem to operate these days.

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

Exley97:

Ogoid:
not being the one calling for Nobel Prize winners or literal rocket scientists to be hounded off their jobs for jokes or choice of attire, this definitely isn't the future I chose.

Ogoid:
Good on ArenaNet for standing up for their fans. It's a rather refreshing change of pace from how most companies seem to operate these days.

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

I mean, I'll celebrate this time. She was a liar and someone who quickly chucks the gender-card out because of a polite critique that had nothing to do with gender.

Exley97:

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

Yes. It's ridiculous to demand a company "to have your back" when you're attacking its customers and partners, particularly when it's for no discernible reason. This is a valuable lesson for many in the entertainment industry.

BadNewDingus:

Exley97:

Ogoid:
not being the one calling for Nobel Prize winners or literal rocket scientists to be hounded off their jobs for jokes or choice of attire, this definitely isn't the future I chose.

Ogoid:
Good on ArenaNet for standing up for their fans. It's a rather refreshing change of pace from how most companies seem to operate these days.

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

I mean, I'll celebrate this time. She was a liar and someone who quickly chucks the gender-card out because of a polite critique that had nothing to do with gender.

Okay. Free speech is crucial, and a mob trying to get someone fired over something they said on Twitter is BAD... *unless* it's a person you don't like. Then it's all good, correct?

Exley97:

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

I mean, I was complimenting a company on having enough business sense to prioritize their customers over an employee who obviously can't set aside the continental landmass-sized chip on their shoulder when said customers politely try to make conversation on a social media platform specifically designed for that very purpose, not really "celebrating" anything.

That said, though, do I enjoy the sweet, sweet schadenfreude of seeing someone become the casualty of a witch-hunt they tried to instigate to begin with? Why, yes, yes I do. And frankly?

image

Yeah, a shame. She was kind of an asshole to the guy, but can't say I think she should have been fired for it.

Mike O'Brien has issued a statement regarding Jessica and Peter's termination:

Jessica had identified herself as an ArenaNet employee on Reddit and Twitter, had been discussing Episode 3 storytelling with fans on Reddit, then had written a 25-part tweet about how we tell stories in MMOs, relating it back to Episode 3. She was representing the company. The expectation was to behave professionally and respectfully, or at least walk away. Instead, she attacked.

Concerns have been publicly raised that she was responding to harassment. It's not my place to tell employees when they should or shouldn't feel harassed. In this case, however, our employees could have chosen not to engage, and they could have brought the issue to the company, whereby we would have done everything we could to protect them.

We won't tolerate harassment. When an employee feels harassed, we want them to bring the issue to us, so that we can protect the employee, deal with the issue, and use it to speak to the larger issue of harassment.

Whatever Jessica and Peter felt internally about the situation, this was objectively a customer engaging us respectfully and professionally, presenting a suggestion for our game. Any response from our company needed to be respectful and professional. A perceived slight doesn't give us license to attack.

We've all dedicated our careers to entertaining people, to making games for the purpose of delighting those who play them. We generally have a wonderful relationship with our community, and that's a point of pride for us. We want to hear from our players. It's not acceptable that an attempted interaction with our company - in this case a polite game suggestion - would be met with open hostility and derision from us. That sets a chilling precedent.

The tweets were made on July 4, when the studio was closed for the holiday. We were aware of them that day, and decided we'd need to take action in the morning. The fact that the community's anger was escalating on July 5 could make it look like our action was a response to the community's anger. But that wasn't the case. We took action as soon as we practicably could.

I hate to let an employee go, and I wish the best for Jessica and Peter, as for any former employee, in whatever they choose to do next.

Whatever you thought of the tweets, Jessica and Peter were also part of the team that brought you the kidnapping scene in Episode 1, which was a wonderfully well-executed scene. That's how I want to remember their time at ArenaNet.

Exley97:
Oh hey, just checking in to see who the ardent free speech defenders are on this one, and who are the hyper-sensitive snowflakes who insist on taking offense at every little thing on social media.

I'm an avid defender of freedom of speech. I don't think she should be fined or jailed for what she said on social media. However, I have no quarrel with a company firing someone that regularly attacks marginalized people like that, IMO if you're embarrassing the company which you work for, they have all the right to not want to be associated with you anymore.

Considering that she was fired from Paizo, the publisher of Pathfinder, for the same reason it isn't really surprising. Also a guy was fired as well for the same reasons but no one talks about that as it doens't really fit a narrative that can be spun.

Exley97:

BadNewDingus:

Exley97:

So it's not the future you chose, but since it's here, let's celebrate folks losing their jobs and pat the company on the back.

I mean, I'll celebrate this time. She was a liar and someone who quickly chucks the gender-card out because of a polite critique that had nothing to do with gender.

Okay. Free speech is crucial, and a mob trying to get someone fired over something they said on Twitter is BAD... *unless* it's a person you don't like. Then it's all good, correct?

Except the Twitter mob had nothing to do with it.

She was publicly and unnecessarily acting like a cunt towards someone who's involved in the games community enough to have an NPC named after him, while representing the developer of said game.

I'm not sure I agree with the straight to fired option. Normally I would have thought a warning and perhaps an apology to Deroir would have been the first stop. I can think of only 2 reasons why ArenaNet did that; either this wasn't the first bit of trouble they've had with her, or they really value their community so highly that their staff are secondary to that.

But either way, I fully agree that Price was in the wrong here. She went from 0 to MAXIMUM OFFENSE in under 60 seconds. I've read Deroir's original tweets, and they aren't rude or anything. AFAIK, he even backed off, apologised and dropped the subject after her first response, so I can't see any excuse why she then continued to argue.

And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

Hmm,someone seems to be deleting posts. This thread is different now than what I saw earlier today. It could be the Escapist acting up but somehow I very much doubt it.

CaitSeith:
And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

Got a source for that?

ex951753:
Hmm,someone seems to be deleting posts. This thread is different now than what I saw earlier today. It could be the Escapist acting up but somehow I very much doubt it.

Yeah, I noticed that too. Several posts are gone from threads all over.
As are at least one, possibly more, entire threads.

Hiccup, or powermad mod? ,)

Vendor-Lazarus:

ex951753:
Hmm,someone seems to be deleting posts. This thread is different now than what I saw earlier today. It could be the Escapist acting up but somehow I very much doubt it.

Yeah, I noticed that too. Several posts are gone from threads all over.
As are at least one, possibly more, entire threads.

Hiccup, or powermad mod? ,)

I figure hiccup. There doesn't seem to be anything from yesterday left at all.

anthony87:

CaitSeith:
And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

Got a source for that?

Got any people you won't accept as sources, before I bother digging anyth8ng up?

CaitSeith:
And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

Having read the nature of the (as of yet unsubstantiated, by the way) allegations to this end, if true it's more likely than not to be the case to be the work of one idiot with a botnet looking to stir up shit. They're apparently form e-mails mass sent via script, from accounts linked to sock puppet social media accounts. That screams "troll", not "online harassment mob" as has been alleged.

Was incredibly stupid to do. Doing it while talking about the game development will reflect on the developer. Response was fine if just personal, but it's not what you say while effectively representing your company.

That said I think it should have been more a reprimand and being told not to do that while talking about GW2 stuff

I don't actually care for favoring the customer so much, don't *spoil* people just to have anyone at all costs, but important factor to me is just when you're representing someone else make sure you hold yourself to their standards. Should have just rolled her eyes and kept silent.

altnameJag:

anthony87:

CaitSeith:
And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

Got a source for that?

Got any people you won't accept as sources, before I bother digging anyth8ng up?

No one in particular that I wouldn't accept but the first utterance I'd heard of any "petition" was a guy on Twitter saying he has proof but promised he wouldn't show any of it.

You can imagine my skepticism at such a statement.

I initially said that a reprimand/public apology probably would have been sufficient but having read more of the rant, as well as her other shenanigans (such as her despicable reaction to Total Biscuit's death) has changed my mind and frankly, I think ArenaNet have saved themselves a tonne of headaches by cutting this headcase loose. Horrible individual with a seriously bad attitude - she really needs to seek therapy.

anthony87:

altnameJag:

anthony87:

Got a source for that?

Got any people you won't accept as sources, before I bother digging anyth8ng up?

No one in particular that I wouldn't accept but the first utterance I'd heard of any "petition" was a guy on Twitter saying he has proof but promised he wouldn't show any of it.

You can imagine my skepticism at such a statement.

Price perfectly encapsulates what people find wrong with not only SJWs but modern feminism; the ability to take a perfectly legitimate piece of feedback or discussion that has nothing to do with gender or discrimination and turn it into a "women's issue". And not only that but take any resulting backlash or consequences and turn it into persecution and martyr themselves over it no matter what they did. The kicker is that she complains about the Twitter/Reddit internet mob getting her fired......only to immediately go to Kotaku and Polygon to try and tell them a sob story and get the SJW Mob sicc'd on Arenanet and anyone who detracted her.

She deserved to get fired, and she deserves to not be able to find work or help and to be mocked after what she did, especially after learning that she mocked Totalbiscuit when he died too.

Since my post on Friday got eaten, it looks to me that ArenaNet, from their second response and Jessica's further tweets, really did go straight to firing, without any sort of internal conflict resolution process. There doesn't seem to be any mention of any past trouble that led to this. I don't think that the internet mob is responsible for this (though they seem happy to take credit for it), if we go by O'Brien's second response the decision to fire was made on the day the spat happened, they just couldn't action it because it was a public holiday (dear god, imagine what would have happened if it was a long weekend).

I will say that I think Jessica does have a point in that ArenaNet have done themselves no favours by going straight to the nuclear option, from the standpoint of its current staff at the least and potentially new hires if this lingers. Peter should have gotten a reprimand at the most, I don't recall him being rude in his defence of Jessica. I read elsewhere (in a friend of a friend on the internet manner, so that's a whole lot of salt to take with that) that the current staff aren't exactly feeling confident about their workplace anymore, afraid that they'll get the boot for any sort of misdeed. An online game's community is to be valued, but to the point that, to all appearances, staff are disposable? I don't think that's a good look.

Though I still think that doesn't excuse her going off at Deroir from the get go, no matter how dumb she thought the question was. The best response would have been to ignore it.

Edit: You know what, after thinking about it, perhaps 'going off', and 'maximum offense' I used earlier are somewhat hyperbolic. But she was certainly rather rude to someone who was not being rude to her.

Major Tom:
...There doesn't seem to be any mention of any past trouble that led to this...

And to be fair, I dont expect us to know or be told of anything as that is a private matter between (former) employer and (former) employee. We can only speculate and based on the action taken, I would anticipate this was simply a contributing factor. I mean, a dismissal for this alone might offer the possibility of an unfair dismissal case (based on her public persona, a case she would likely trigger). I doubt ArenaNet would put themselves in such a position based on just one incident.

Major Tom:
I don't think that the internet mob is responsible for this (though they seem happy to take credit for it).

I have no doubt there are groups that are thrilled about this but yes - they have nothing to do with this. Mentally wishing/urging for an action is not the same as being the cause of such action.

Major Tom:
Peter should have gotten a reprimand at the most, I don't recall him being rude in his defence of Jessica.

Assuming he himself did not have prior issues as a member of the team, I do agree fully. Sure, he may have been "white knighting" a little but (from what we know) I don't see any grounds for dismissal. He might well have an unfair dismissal case (again, assuming no previous reprimands)

Major Tom:
I read elsewhere (in a friend of a friend on the internet manner, so that's a whole lot of salt to take with that) that the current staff aren't exactly feeling confident about their workplace anymore, afraid that they'll get the boot for any sort of misdeed.

I can understand that to an extent. Though really, there is no "pressure" to immediately respond to criticism on Twitter so, like any rules of the workplace, if in doubt - DONT! Or, ask for clarification/guidance/approval.

Major Tom:
An online game's community is to be valued, but to the point that, to all appearances, staff are disposable? I don't think that's a good look.

I guess this could depend on if you see you and your team as a business (and the customer is always right, right?) or as a collection of artists offering their wares. I could probably expand on my thought here but would probably be going way off topic so I'll not do so :)

Eacaraxe:

CaitSeith:
And now several game companies are getting flooded with countless petitions from haters to fire unpopular developers.

snip

Do you think harassers themselves don't use bots, scripts or sock puppet accounts? It's naive to think they wouldn't use every tool they have at their reach to overwhelm and confuse their targets.

NiGHTSJOD:
And to be fair, I dont expect us to know or be told of anything as that is a private matter between (former) employer and (former) employee. We can only speculate and based on the action taken, I would anticipate this was simply a contributing factor. I mean, a dismissal for this alone might offer the possibility of an unfair dismissal case (based on her public persona, a case she would likely trigger). I doubt ArenaNet would put themselves in such a position based on just one incident.

Nor would I expect them to either. Normally I would expect a firing to have happened after previous infractions as well. Now if they did have internal problems and laid all dirty laundry out for all to see, that would have been unprofessional and downright nasty on ArenaNet's part and that would definitely mark them out as a place that perhaps is not so great to work at.

But what makes it so puzzling, to me, anyway, is the glowing talk of Jessica's time at the company at the end of the statement. I also haven't heard of any public problems she's had while at ArenaNet, which definitely would have been paraded about if they were there. There was that tweet about TotalBiscuit when he died, but AFAIK ArenaNet didn't care about, or if they did it was kept internal. But the statement they did release put a really positive glow on her time there. This makes the firing look like it really came right out of the blue to me.

While not as bad as ignoring it and letting it fester, given how they ended the second statement, I think it looks like they've done just that: put themselves in this position based on this one incident. Again, I can't say if there was more behind this, but this is what it looks like to me. I dunno, maybe if they'd just re-released the first, more neutral statement in a public form instead of in some random thread they wouldn't have found themselves in this mess, but maybe not. Firing Jessica and Peter (well, that quickly anyway), IMO, was the wrong move.

Oh, and I misread part of the statement. They were aware of the spat on the day it happened, and the decision to fire was made the next day, not on the same day as I originally thought. Still, a very quick turnaround.

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