BioWare Supports Beleaguered Writer

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BioWare Supports Beleaguered Writer

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BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka has issued a statement of unequivocal support for Dragon Age writer Jennifer Hepler, the target of a vicious internet hate campaign spurred by her admission that she doesn't actually like playing videogames.

At first glance, Jennifer Hepler would appear to be living the dream. She's a senior writer at BioWare, which means people give her money to craft fantasy tales in the Dragon Age and Old Republic settings, and that pretty much nails the awesome factor right there. But five years ago, she said in a Killer Betties interview - available now only via the Wayback Machine - that her least-favorite thing about working in the videogame industry is actually playing videogames.

"This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but it has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me," she said. "I came into the job out of a love of writing, not a love of playing games. While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn't have a good story, it's very hard for me to get interested in playing it." She even went so far as to suggest that it'd be nice if games had a "fast-forward feature" that would let her skip the vexing gameplay bits and just enjoy the writing and stories.

Bear in mind that this all happened five years ago - five years, people! - yet last week, for some reason, "gamers" took quotes from that interview, photoshopped them next to a picture of Hepler, added a pile of derogatory names and a second lengthy, entirely unattributed and far more incendiary quote, and put it up on Reddit, describing her as "the cancer that is killing BioWare." The internet, as it does, raged.

The abuse heaped upon Hepler was beyond the pale. Her Twitter account, launched shortly after the uproar began, was bombarded with hatred, to the point that she asked to have it closed. A detailed account of the ugliness is up on Destructoid, but I think the fact that BioWare Edmonton General Manager Aaryn Flynn was driven to publicly refer to at least one commenter as a "fucking moron" on Twitter speaks volumes. It was, and is, a grotesque display of the very worst aspects of the internet.

But now, in what will hopefully be the denouement that cools things down, BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka has weighed in with a clear and unequivocal message.

"Jennifer is a valued, talented employee who has been with BioWare for many years and we hope will be with us for many more. It is awful that a few people have decided to make her a target for hate and threats, going so far as fabricating forum posts and attributing them to her, and singling her out for projects to which she has not contributed (i.e., Jennifer is not even a part of the Mass Effect writing team). All of us at BioWare support and will continue to support Jennifer fully, and are happy to see so many people out there are also supporting her during this difficult time."

BioWare is also making a donation of $1000 in Hepler's name to Bullying Canada, an anti-bullying charity.

This is about as classy a move as any employer could make, and I applaud Muzyka for making it. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Hepler's opinions about games or care for her work, the behavior of her attackers is utterly and inexcusably reprehensible. Bravo to you, BioWare [and you too, Flynn] for standing up for one of your own.

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As much as those people are fucking morons, he shouldn't have come out and said it. But yeah, it is cute that we want our community to be taken seriously when stuff like this is still happening.

Wait, the mass effect thing wasn't her fault?

... Right, suppose if I was a more proactive person i'd go edit a few forum posts. Ah well, the more you know.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
As much as those people are fucking morons, he shouldn't have come out and said it. But yeah, it is cute that we want our community to be taken seriously when stuff like this is still happening.

It's sad that he felt that he had to come out and say something, but it was rather nice to see. Which is more than I can say for our community when something like this happens, so yeah, fully in agreement there.

Two steps forward, and a tumble backwards.

I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

dogstile:
Wait, the mass effect thing wasn't her fault?

... Right, suppose if I was a more proactive person i'd go edit a few forum posts. Ah well, the more you know.

If you're talking about a certain thread from almost a year ago regarding this stuff (I remembered it myself when I saw her name) I had stated in that thread that she never even posted that comment on Mass Effect. I spoke to her directly and she said she hadn't even been online for a few months.

Good on them, I really appreciate Bioware doing that for Hepler.

I may be just be crazy, but I really don't see why she's getting so much flak over this.

Man I hate the internet sometimes.
And by hate I mean a sort of 'angry tut' level of hate.

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

What parts? She wrote most of the Dwarven stuff, which was all fantastic, IMO.

Not to mention, as so many people like to disregard, she has NOTHING to do with Mass Effect.

I really don't see what the issue is with what she said. I think the games we all love to play might actually be improved if there was an option to skip the gameplay and move straight to the storyline and character elements.

Why? Not because gameplay is not important. I would argue alongside many others that the core gameplay is actually what is most important in making a videogame good. I would, however, also argue that the story and character elements are where games are at their weakest while gameplay is stronger than it's ever been across the board. Core gameplay doesn't need any help. If there was the sort of increased focus on story, characters, writing, voice acting, etc. that a non-gameplay option would provide, it would force developers to concentrate on strengthening their weaknesses.

Perhaps having some members of their writing staff being more writers and less gamers is what makes Bioware a company that receives as many commendations as it does for strong interesting stories and characters.

Let's face it. Saying in a interview that she hates the gameplay of the video games (hates the video games overral actually) wasn't the smartest move a person in the industry could've made, even not being an actual developer.

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

First off, you could be gay in Mass Effect 2, so it's nothing new. Secondly, why is is off that you can choose, in a game built on player choice, to paly a gay character? And thirdly, since she don't have anything to do with Mass Effect, what is the point off ypur comment?

I hadn't heard of any of this stuff before, but what the hell is wrong with people?

She should not be treated so harshly. It's sad when people attack someone, when their is little evidence of their being the person who caused the issues within a game(book, film, etc).
It's like the Rob Schiender effect, he takes crap rolls so everyone ignores the roles he was pretty good in and suited for.

Still she probably should not have been honest, but it was rather brave. I guess she had higher expectations for the interwebs. It's perfectly fine to question her role in various Bioware projects due to what she said years ago, but to attack her as being the cause of the supposed Bioware degradation is as laughable as a Tex Avery cartoon.

Oh interweb your panties are in a bunch again.

Just a little note to all of you people, who were gleefuly a part of this little campaign (and I know you guys will come visit this to see this, heck you probably won't be able to resist responding to this post I bet considering what an utter lack of self-control you have)

Jennifer Hepler is not the cancer killing Bioware. Nor is that retarted Bioware 'story chart' you people keep posting around on message boards to pump your own egoes. Nor is it your slavering obedience to certain alternative gaming companies, whose stories are, by the way, by now just as predictable as those of Bioware's only that you choose to be willfully blind to this reality because you happen to love their 'alternative' and 'edgy' tropes moreso.

You want to know who the real cancer of Bioware right now is? It's 'fans' like you. Self-entitled 'fans' with nothing better to do but cry about 'back-in-the-day'.

Now reply to this post to 'prove me wrong' again and, in doing so, totally validate my own point. Go on...everyone loves to see you 'fight the good fight' for the 'back-in-the-day' Bioware (which, by the way, never existed because you missed the real strong point of their stories to begin with). Everyone loves to see you argue on forums after all...because you are a joke of the biggest kind. Especially when you resort to desperate primitivism, such as this, and completely prove the opposite point right - that Bioware's spirits, for whatever faults it does indeed have and has had since Baldur's Gate, still lives.

And if you still think that isn't the case (as I know you don't), then think on how Muzyka's response to yours makes you look like anything but 'intelligent' and anything but as rational as the fictional state of Bioware's old stories that existed nowhere else but in your own deluded heads.

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

Maybe your Shepard isn't gay, but I'd like to reserve the right for my Shepard to be, if I so choose, thank you very much.

ZeroMachine:

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

What parts? She wrote most of the Dwarven stuff, which was all fantastic, IMO.

Not to mention, as so many people like to disregard, she has NOTHING to do with Mass Effect.

never said she did.

Varya:

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

First off, you could be gay in Mass Effect 2, so it's nothing new. Secondly, why is is off that you can choose, in a game built on player choice, to paly a gay character? And thirdly, since she don't have anything to do with Mass Effect, what is the point off ypur comment?

as a Male, who could you be gay with?

The "Gamer/Internet' Community In A Nutshell:

>Someone disagrees/doesn't think EXACTLY like you.
>Call them pejoratives and 'the cancer'
>Fake posts/writing to make make them look bad
>Get mad when you're treated like a spoiled child
>Repeat

RedEyesBlackGamer:
As much as those people are fucking morons, he shouldn't have come out and said it. But yeah, it is cute that we want our community to be taken seriously when stuff like this is still happening.

Huh? Of course he should have. They're a bunch of cunts. It should be highlighted, and as many people as possible should condemn them for it.

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

Yeah, no gay action in Mass Effect 1 or 2 whatsoever.

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Unless, of course, you are just taking issue with the male homosexuality being introduced. Which... eh.

And she doesn't write for Mass Effect! So, yeah.

OT: Good on them. I don't agree with much of what she's said (the gameplay thing, I'm split over), nor am I particularly a fan of the direction taken by herself and the other writers with Dragon Age 2, but people's responses have been ridiculous.

I must ask, since I'm not certain I understand the string of events clearly (though, probably, I just do not want to believe this of people): this woman is under attack from groups of people merely because she does not share their choice of hobby? Or did I miss out on something she said or did that might have provoked this pathetic spectacle?

(The fact that she is a writer at Bioware is less consequential than some might think. Bringing in non-gaming writers in game development is actually an old trend, and one that is often said to improve the quality of the writing. Personally, I find the fact that she writes for the love of writing rather than the love of gaming to be a good thing, and a possible indication of quality. A game writer that wrote solely for the love of gaming, without any passion for narration, written drama and textual work in general, is not one I'd trust to bring a good story to the gaming screen.)

Brad Shepard:

ZeroMachine:

Brad Shepard:
I heard about her new book, how piss poor it is, plus she wrote some really bad parts of DA:O and I just have to say this, the fact that they are adding male homosexuality in the last installment of Shepard's story seems very off if you ask me.

All the same, saw the title of this article, had to grab this.

What parts? She wrote most of the Dwarven stuff, which was all fantastic, IMO.

Not to mention, as so many people like to disregard, she has NOTHING to do with Mass Effect.

never said she did.

Ok, fair enough. Mind answering my other question?

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
As much as those people are fucking morons, he shouldn't have come out and said it. But yeah, it is cute that we want our community to be taken seriously when stuff like this is still happening.

Huh? Of course he should have. They're a bunch of cunts. It should be highlighted, and as many people as possible should condemn them for it.

I know they are, but he needs to show professionalism.

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
As much as those people are fucking morons, he shouldn't have come out and said it. But yeah, it is cute that we want our community to be taken seriously when stuff like this is still happening.

Huh? Of course he should have. They're a bunch of cunts. It should be highlighted, and as many people as possible should condemn them for it.

I know they are, but he needs to show professionalism.

I fail to see how backing your own member of staff, who has been subjected to an inordinate amount of online abuse, is unprofessional.

That is practically the definition of professionalism.

These snotty little entitled brats disgust me I can only hope this is just a phase and they grow the fuck up.

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Woodsey:

Huh? Of course he should have. They're a bunch of cunts. It should be highlighted, and as many people as possible should condemn them for it.

I know they are, but he needs to show professionalism.

I fail to see how backing your own member of staff, who has been subjected to an inordinate amount of online abuse, is unprofessional.

That is practically the definition of professional.

This is like working in customer support. It doesn't matter if a customer is yelling at you and being as obnoxious as possible, you never stoop down to their level. He could have defended her without calling someone a fucking moron.

You seem to have missed the part where she fanned the flames by retorting to her detractors. Honestly, this is a situation where I just hate everyone involved. Responding to torrents of bile with the phrase "I just figure they're jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can't get either." is just asking for trouble.

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
I know they are, but he needs to show professionalism.

I fail to see how backing your own member of staff, who has been subjected to an inordinate amount of online abuse, is unprofessional.

That is practically the definition of professional.

This is like working in customer support. It doesn't matter if a customer is yelling at you and being as obnoxious as possible, you never stoop down to their level. He could have defended her without calling someone a fucking moron.

Oh, well we're talking about two different people.

Anyway, having looked at the Tweets of the one you're on about, it's fine to me. They're personal attacks to him and the woman, and they were interacting directly with him on his personal Twitter.

The difference between that and customer support is that customer support is quite clearly a work environment.

Brad Shepard:
as a Male, who could you be gay with?

My misstake, I assumed Garrus but forgot I was playing femShep:p, but I know femShep can be gay in both 1 and 2, why should maleShep be different?

Loonerinoes:
Just a little note to all of you people, who were gleefuly a part of this little campaign (and I know you guys will come visit this to see this, heck you probably won't be able to resist responding to this post I bet considering what an utter lack of self-control you have)

*snip retarded scree*

See, the nice thing about The Escapist is that it is where the grown ups come to discuss things. As of my post there is NOT ONE SINGLE COMMENT AGAINST THIS WOMAN. Who are you talking to? Are you just insane?

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Woodsey:

I fail to see how backing your own member of staff, who has been subjected to an inordinate amount of online abuse, is unprofessional.

That is practically the definition of professional.

This is like working in customer support. It doesn't matter if a customer is yelling at you and being as obnoxious as possible, you never stoop down to their level. He could have defended her without calling someone a fucking moron.

Oh, well we're talking about two different people.

Anyway, having looked at the Tweets of the one you're on about, it's fine to me. They're personal attacks to him and the woman, and they were interacting directly with him on his personal Twitter.

The difference between that and customer support is that customer support is quite clearly a work environment.

Lets agree to disagree. Idiots were idiots, but they only fanned the flames by lashing back.

You know what I wouldn't do?

Walk into the middle of the Harry Potter fandom and say "So, Harry Potter's gay then?"

So why are you even surprised that when you poke the internet, it releases the hate machine?

It's the internet. Lots of other people have had far more abuse. Rebecca Black for one, Charlie Brooker for another; wanna guess how many death threats Piers Morgan gets daily?

Is it right? No. Does responding to it increase the problem? Oh hell yes.

I think with a little work you could probably create a Java or Flash app that would have a pretty good chance of allowing you to quickly form your own Internet Torch-bearing Mob.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Walk into the middle of the Harry Potter fandom and say "So, Harry Potter's gay then?"

Is it right? No. Does responding to it increase the problem? Oh hell yes.

No, you would do that to Dumbledore.

Joking aside, this isn't about stopping people from posting bullshit. Bioware sure as hell don't have the kind of divine influence to do that. It was about making a statement:they don't think this kind of shit is okay, and they are going to stand by their writers. I think it had more to do with helping Hepler then anything else.

I watched that unfold and it was simply disgusting, utterly unwarranted by any sane evaluation.\

Soviet Heavy:
You seem to have missed the part where she fanned the flames by retorting to her detractors. Honestly, this is a situation where I just hate everyone involved. Responding to torrents of bile with the phrase "I just figure they're jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can't get either." is just asking for trouble.

Haha. That quote is made of pure awesome. I refuse to go and read this stuff - having more stimulating things to do like scraping my callouses. So thanks for bringing that wee gem over here. Best laugh of the week.

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