BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her A ‘Cancer’

BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her A ‘Cancer’

BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler is trying to delete her Twitter account today after feeling the hate of gamers who are angry about what she apparently said in a 2006 interview.

She’s been called terrible things on the internet today, after a flame that was lit by a post on Reddit calling Hepler, as the “cancer that is killing Bioware“. She’s worked on Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The original Reddit post that surfaced earlier this month was a screenshot of the BioWare forums with alleged comments from Hepler’s interview with website Killer Betties.

Reddit /r/gaming moderator ohemeffgee removed the post for violating Reddiquette. He cited some of the problems:

1. It directly targets an individual. Keep in mind when you sharpen those pitchforks of yours that you’re attacking actual human beings with feelings and basic rights. Follow the Golden Rule, please.

2. On top of that it cites quotes that the person in question never made. This person was getting harassing phone calls and emails based on something that they never did.

The link where the original interview from October 2006 was supposedly posted is now faulty, and in fact the entire site seems to be empty. But you can find the archived version here.

And what was the cause for this uproar?

The cause of this uproar appears to have been her response to a question about what her least favourite thing about working in the gaming industry was. Her answer: “Playing the games.” The original Reddit post featured a heavily edited version of the interview, which subtracted the fact that Hepler is expecting a child in the coming months, and therefore has a minimal amount of time to dedicate to gaming. She also mentioned that she finds it difficult to get immersed in a game that is not complemented by a good story: “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.”

Hepler also seemed to anger some gamers with her suggestion to add a fast-forward button to skip combat in games, similar to the skip button for dialogue and in-game cinematics.

The biggest objection is usually that skipping the fight scenes would make the game so much shorter, but to me, that’s the biggest perk. If you’re a woman, especially a mother, with dinner to prepare, kids’ homework to help with, and a lot of other demands on your time, you don’t need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest — especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you don’t enjoy. A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options that we have with books or DVDs — to skim past the parts we don’t like and savour the ones we do.

The original screencap posted on Reddit included the words: Cancer, Infection, Sewage, Plague. These are not light comments. Reddit’s ohemeffgee also said that Hepler has been harassed with phone calls and emails from people echoing the statements made by Reddit user corporateswine, who uploaded the first Reddit post that spurred the witchhunt.

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Hepler has also been receiving nasty Twitter replies. BioWare’s Studio GM, Aaryn Flynn, rose to her defence against the attackers on Twitter, albeit perhaps not in the most PR-friendly manner possible.

A YouTube video was created with instructions in the description to send “hate mail” to David Gaider, one of BioWare’s other writers. The harassment has gone so far as to prompt the BioWare writer to try to delete her Twitter account.

Whether you agree with Hepler’s comments on video games and her suggestions for making a better experience still does not excuse the treatment she’s been receiving today.

We’ve reached out to EA PR for comment from Jennifer Hepler, and we’ll post an update as soon as one is available.

Comments

  • That YouTube video wasn’t created in reaction to any of those events, it was made almost a year ago in reaction to the terrible direction Bioware was going with Dragon Age 2.

  • I’m sure she’s not the reason for Bioware turning to crap.

    It’s taken a coordinated effort on behalf of many people working at Bioware to systematically turn every one of their IPs to shit. So singling her out is unfair.

    • She hasn’t ever worked on a Mass Effect game yet she’s also blamed for the series perceived decline. It’s turned from making light of her comments about “not playing games” into a cruel vendetta based on lies.

        • No, people are bashing her for the apparent decline in ME3, some suggesting she’s the reason ME3 will have a gay romance option like in DAO/DA2 – even though she hasn’t written for ME3 at all.

  • Everyone attacking her is an asshole.

    People are allowed to have opinions without suffering this sort of vitriol.

    I almost kind of agree with the quote that sparked all of this:

    The biggest objection is usually that skipping the fight scenes would make the game so much shorter, but to me, that’s the biggest perk. If you’re a woman, especially a mother, with dinner to prepare, kids’ homework to help with, and a lot of other demands on your time, you don’t need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest — especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you don’t enjoy. A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options that we have with books or DVDs — to skim past the parts we don’t like and savour the ones we do.

    But I’m not too sure that I like the conclusion she reached or the reasoning (“as a woman” just seems to invoke the housewife mental image here and I think this problem is much more broad. “As an adult” would probably have made it more sympathetic)

    The problem is that a lot of games, particularly story driven games, are rather long. I’m not talking about the flash in a pan COD style campaigns where you’re done in four hours. I’m talking about the Bioware RPGs, the Final Fantasy games, Pokemon, Elder Scrolls and all the other games that are notorious for taking hundreds of hours of time.

    Most of that time is filler. You might have 10 solid hours of enjoyment and 90 hours of grind to get to that enjoyment. That’s terrible pacing. Can you imagine a book that was boring for 90% of the time? Or a TV show? You wouldn’t fast forward to the good bits, you’d just give up on the whole thing.

    The solution wouldn’t be to add a fast forward button to cut out the fight scenes and needless grinding. The solution would be for developers to make games that had a decent sense of pacing.

    • It’s worth noting that there’s been a strongly positive reaction to the ‘Story mode’ option in ME3 – people have said it’s a great way to get friends or relatives who usually don’t like combat in games to play it, and be interested in the story and characters by themselves. The narrative moves much more quickly when combat is so much easier.

      But I agree – in story-based gaming, having to grind is a nightmare, particularly if you don’t enjoy the combat.

      • I would love if ME 1 & 2 had a story mode, I would do some quick run throughs to prepare for ME3.
        I dont have time to fully replay them both now

        • Agreed. I’m replaying FFXIII-1 before starting my release-day copy of FFXIII-2. All of these battles are taking far longer than I expected. I really only want to watch the cut scenes.

      • the problem is we pay for an expencive game to have many hours of playing and after they give to us a short story at the same price

  • I respect her, she has a life and choices, she is Human. If people get off calling her these kind of thing’s, they aren’t gamers, they are internet bullies, they are fakes and only hear what they think is bad. As such this post stated, she said “She is expecting a child in the coming months” and this was removed from the interview so people would only view what she said, and not why. None the less what people say, she has helped give us some of the greatest games we all play and love, Dragon Age, and my favorite SWTOR, people need to learn to keep their stupid comments and insults to themselves, and if they truly believe they are doing the right thing, then they give a VERY bad name to the term gamer, for which they are not.

  • Not a big fan of Bioware’s writing, but I do think that her comments are justified.
    While it would certainly be beneficial for a game writer to enjoy games, I don’t see why it would have to be compulsory. I’ve heard people argue that if she doesn’t like games, she should write novels or films, but they’re really very different. The closest you could get to writing Dragon Age would be writing a choose-your-own-adventure book. It would be thousands of pages long. I can see why she’d enjoy writing for games due to the interactive nature, and she should be able to do so without this level of criticism.
    There really is no justification for abuse on this level. It exceeds constructive criticism and is just.. Really personal and nasty.

  • Wow, just wow. I feel so sorry for this poor woman.

    And I agree with her to some extent. An optional fast-forward (akin to the Nintendo innovation of auto-level-completion) at the expense of achievements of course, would be a decent inclusion, especially in longer, story-heavy games. Some games, I only slog through just to find out what happens next (though as Trjn adroitly points out, this could also be rectified by making the gameplay more interesting)

  • Man, all you white knights need to toughen up.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to misconstrue someone’s interviews, edit responses, and make them say something they never said.

    It’s also totally fair to attack someone based on their physical attributes when they’re a writer and their body has nothing to do with it.

    And, HELLO? She’s a woman! So she totally deserves to cop it for making that decision not to be a man at birth.

    Never mind the fact she’s got a surname that can be changed around to say something different, so if she wanted to be in gaming, she should have changed that too.

    Also, her opinion doesn’t match mine, so she’s 100% wrong and needs to die.

    Stupid white knights…never looking at facts!

    • …is what I would say if I had no brain, no maturity, and no humanity in me.

      Honestly, I’d be happy if there were global Allure bans for anyone who makes serious statements like the above on this article.

      Please, make it happen.

  • But I agree! There are actually a few games I’ve only played for the story, where gameplay gets in the way. In the second half of Persona 4, I was way more interested in the story events and the dialogue than I was with the gameplay.

    Same with Grim Grimoire, I cranked the game down to the casual setting because I just wanted to watch the cutscenes than play the actual game.

    And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, those are 2 of my favourite games. I see nothing wrong with having the ability to make certain gameplay sections incredibly easy so people can advance the story.

    • It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it’s that it’s arguably the wrong medium. A lot of people will tell you the Persona 4 anime does as good if not a better job of relaying the tale than the game, and without having to deal with the combat.
      You conclude combat should be skippable.
      I conclude it should just be an anime and not a video game.
      There’s definitely room for interesting discussion there though.

      • The advantage with video games though is you can incorporate an element of choice. The anime doesn’t show all the social events and you don’t get to choose what happens, so you’re much less invested in the story than you are with the videogame.

        Also, there’s the issue of length. The persona 4 anime will be about 8 hours long if you marathoned it, but there’s easily 40hrs of dialogue in the videogame. It’s got much better pacing than the show, and it’s also got the bonus of being interactive.

        To be honest, I think a lot of western developers are kinda missing the point of story in video games. There are still some awesome developers like Remedy with Alan Wake etc, but a lot of videogames lately sacrifice story for gameplay, and when the game is all said and done, it’s the story that sticks with you and forms your final impression of the game.

  • Personal attacks and harrasment are bad. Yes? Good. That is how i feel.

    However attacks on her profesional ability are fair game, and to be perfectly honest I’m with the angry masses on that. If you don’t really enjoy playing games except for story, and you think games should have a fast forward option to essentially skip all gameplay in the name of story, then you should not be writing for video games. It is that simple. She should be writing novels, or screenplays or something. Which of course cunningly (not really) leads to my attack, Bioware’s writers are horrible these days, and I find it hard to believe she could actually write an even semi decent novel, I don’t care whether she’s fat or docuhey or a mother or a woman, but with the exception of Origins (in some parts) the projects she’s worked on have had horrible writing, whether it’s her or David Gaider (That guy thinks he’s Tolkien or Jordan or something, it’s ridiculous).

    Also
    “A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options that we have with books or DVDs — to skim past the parts we don’t like and savour the ones we do.”
    If you’re a writer, and you’re skimming books, you’re kinda doing it wrong. Read the boring parts, analyse what’s wrong with them and use the knowledge to improve your own writing. Granted sometimes you just want to read, but dayum, pretty much everything this womans says just screams “I’M IN THE WRONG LINE OF WORK”

    • Very much agree with the above comment. I have concerns if people who are not “interested in playing” games, are having key roles in there development. Would people rather be sat there watching selectable cut scenes, or playing games?

    • I disagree with you wholeheartedly. And why do people care if a function they’ll never use gets added to games anyway. It’s not going to make a difference to the people who don’t want it, just to the people who do want it. Like me.
      I think it’s a good idea in some cases. Like Uncharted games. I love the story, and I love the platforming parts and exploring for treasures. But to me, the shooting of seemingly-endless amounts of unnecessary enemies takes away from the experience, and cheapens the story making it impossible for me to want to continue with the game. I’d love to be able to skip the unrealistic and completely unnecessary shooty parts and just get on with the meat of the game.

      • The meat of an Uncharted game is the shooting… it is a “third person action game”. I have concerns because developers adding things like this, means levels of complacency creeps into developing the actual gameplay. What if they do focus testing and find enough people skip pass a gamplay point, because it was “too hard” and then completely remove it? People who were happy to play through it will miss out completely.

        • That’s what I’m saying. people have their own opinions about the “meat” of a game. If people can skip cutscenes then why shouldn’t there be an option for people to skip other things. And why should people care how other people play the game?

          • Because ‘game’ implies you play it, not just ‘watch’ it?

            But either way that’s not the real point, others have pretty much said everything I could hope to, and put it better. It’s not that I care how others play, it’s that you simply can’t add in that option without it either immediately or eventually changing core parts of what makes the game.

            To expand on Snacuum’s comment, one of my favourite parts of Dragon Age: Origins was the banter between your companions while you explored, now if I were a developer trying to optimise development, and we had this data that said, the people interested in story skip the combat/exploration, and the those that don’t aren’t as focused on story, one of the things that would seem like a smart feature to cut would be the context sensitive dialogue that triggers dependent on who is in your party, where you are and what you’re doing. Hell just look at DAII, they IMMENSELY reduced this, and the bits that remained were much more static and pre determined.

            Then there’s the bigger issue of should games even be giving us plot/story in the way they do? Half Life and Dark Souls are both excellent examples of letting you play the story rather than just observe it, the lore is there and it’s actually very deep (especially in Dark Souls case), but it doesn’t just force it down your throat with extended and often poorly implemented exposition.
            In writing it’s considered a basic rule that where possible you aim to show, rather than tell. I like the idea that within video games the rule should be, where possible, aim to let players experience rather than be shown. I want to be Nathan Drake, if I wanted to watch Nathan Drake there’s these awesome movies with Harrison Ford over on my shelf…

        • They usually have telemetry and data reports that give a pretty good estimate of who does what in their games.

          Personally, I think people who use a ‘Story’ option to skip or greatly reduce combat would generally be a minority anyway. When millions of people buy (for example) Mass Effect 3 solely for the shooting, and the game is built around combat, there isn’t suddenly going to be a situation where everyone skips the gameplay.

          If there’s a huge amount of people who *do* like to skip combat, then the industry will go where the money is and make games that are (I’d guess) more akin to interactive novels. As long as there’s demand for combat, people will make combat games.

          But in the meantime it hardly hurts to try to cater both groups (and people who would play both styles) if the game allows it and they feel the need. Adding an option to make combat significantly easier disadvantages nobody – it’s not really extra work, and it makes the story much more accessible to people who play that way. Everybody else has their fill of shooty goodness.

        • It shouldn’t be like that – look at it like this. You make a game. It has a pretty good story and good gameplay, and is looking to be a hit when it is released. You have Audience A, which is everyone who will buy it without ‘battle skipping’ – ie the current situation. Then there is Audience B, who decide not to buy the game even though they think it is interesting, but don’t want a huge time commitment for whatever reasons, and so they choose not to buy the game.

          By enabling battle skipping, developers will not lose any of Audience A and the money they bring. However, they will bring in new people from Audience B, who previously would not buy, and therefore get more money. It’s about expanding your audience, and making your product accessible to more people who want it. Maybe not everyone from Audience B, but you’d get some, and for a feature that for many games – not all – be fairly easy to implement.

          I don’t know about how much it would cost to make this feature compared to the profits it would bring, that’s something developers would have to determine for themselves. But its difficult to see any downsides to having it, as it really is OPTIONAL, for both developers and players.

          For people arguing that gameplay and narrative should not be treated separately, I agree with you for the development process. If enabling gameplay skipping affected the gameplay’s development or story development, I’d argue that the developer is doing it wrong. But if not, then there really is no loss to gamers who will play the game as its designed, while making it more inclusive to those who don’t have time but still want to spend their money.

      • “And why do people care if a function they’ll never use gets added to games anyway.”

        It always matters what features you put into a game, it will always affect the whole. Any features you put in will need to work, they can’t give the player a broken and unsatisfactory experience. A “gameplay skip” feature would require that all storytelling moments are separated from the action, there will never be any important events while you fight, no emergent story context. The gameplay bits will be in the ‘game’ bits and the story will be in the ‘movie’ bits. That’s fine if that’s what you want, but a lot of gamers out here are asking for our games to still be games, even if they have good stories.

        In terms of this lady I am glad that Kotaku is shedding light of the matter, I still don’t agree with her or consider her justified but understand her sentiment. I always thought places like /v/ were blowing it out of proportion.

        • Did video games rise to mainstream attention, begin with them “catering to both groups”, no. It was a niche thing that more and more people caught onto and enjoyed. However, the more you try and cater to a larger audience, means you end up diluting the game so much that it becomes a product for the masses. This is a dangerous road to go down as it leaves you with an audience that will likely move onto the next thing when they can and your original audience is disenchanted with your product.

          • Yes!

            Now imagine demon’s souls with an easy mode. Easy mode needs to work, so the current player-control mechanics will probably make it too over-powered and no fun, so that needs to change. Since those mechanics has changed, hard mode is now just a harder version of easy mode… that most people don’t play because there’s nothing there for them but a challenge that only works when you understand the mechanics shown in easy mode…

            Different game now.

    • I basically agree with everything Sam said. The personal attacks are dispicable, but there is a tiny grain of truth to them. Taking the ‘game’ out of a ‘video game’ is, to my way of thinking, completly missing the point of the medium and is all indicitive of Bioware’s current direction.

      I’m reminded of when Lorraine Williams was in charge of TSR in the late 80’s-early 90’s. A woman who despised Tabletop RPG’s and the gamers who played them was running the company making Dungeons and Dragons. Long story short (and simplified), she ran the company into the ground.

  • Every single time rubbish like this happens, gives more ammunition to the people against R18 gaming who take examples like this to “prove” only immature children with no social skills play video games.

  • Wow… it’s amazing how hateful people can be when behind their computer monitor.
    It’s quite disgusting.
    I really hate the current quality of components of society that are being produced in the modern age. Cowardly, two faced and, sometimes, just evil.

    • Not really, I’d suggest that the internet highlights the fact there are a lot of angry people right now for a multitude of reasons. There are scumbags on the internet for sure, lets not shoot down peoples right to express there thoughts on an issue, be it rightly or wrongly.

  • Reddit is a cesspool for internet warriors. Kudos to the mods for shutting this down instead of letting it run rampant like the paedophile sub forums. For all the moral and creative high ground these cretins take, they’re using some pretty dodgy tactics like quote mining to make a fuss. Hey ass hats, it’s not the evolution debate, it’s a goddamn video game and you’re harassing this woman because she might disagree? That’s fantastically selfish and conceited.

  • I don’t see how this is news, /v/ insults her and Bioware every day. I think they named an award after her for Worst Writing or something for their /V/GA’s.

  • I’m of the opinion that if you want a movie, watch a movie. Games are games, and the interactivity and gameplay is the core of what they do. As much as is possible of the narrative should be told through gameplay, rather than explicit exposition.

    When a game writer says that they think gameplay should be optional, it tells me that they should not be writing for games. It’s not the same as writing for films or novels. You don’t have have a story and tell it to the audience, or have actors play out the scenes. The players should receive the setting and narrative through their own in-world experiences.

    • That’s what I like.

      And not just that, but writers who are familiar with how the game plays and interacts with the player will write better and more cohesive stories for them. You could be a good writer and make a great drama for God of War, but really you should be focusing on how angry and violent Kratos is. In a game like Deus Ex you would disciver that a rich detailed story with multiple paths and NPC reactions and elements that constantly refer to mystery and conspiracy would add to the overall setting.

      Here’s a good one: I just did the Dark Brotherhood starting mission in Skyrim, where you choose out of three who to kill. I don’t know whether my choice meant anything, but it allowed me to make up my own mind and have my own rationalisations for my choice, while still having some mystery. A good bit of story there, appropriate to my actions, all within gameplay.

  • I dislike her for the fact that she dislikes the “game” part of games, but the abuse isn’t really warranted.

    And yeah this is hardly news. This has been going on for months.

    • What if she prefers visual novel type “games”? There isn’t a terrible amount of game play in those, they’re just story. Is it so wrong that maybe she prefers those games to your run-of-the-mill FPS?

  • Disgusting, and some of the the reactions on Kotaku ranging from “so what?” to “its bad, but….” are depressing as well.

    • So in the “It’s bad, but…” case, we’re just supposed to start sobbing and lie to you? I’m not gonna do that, and I’m offended that you’re asking me to.

      • Your only two choices are justifying the behavior (which is what the “its bad, but..” approach is doing) or sobbing and lying? Really?

        • Well if we’re speaking in simpler terms, yes. In my reply a couple posts above, I did use that method in a way, however I did not justify the abuse. I think that the abuse is bad but I still dislike the woman. So then, my only other real option is lying and saying how horrible it is that the poor woman is being abused, that I feel so sorry for her and that I should send her gifts, which is really not my opinion at all.

        • I”m sorry what?
          Those are my only two options?
          I’d like to think that just because someone can express something in a horrible way we don’t immediately disregard the value in opinion.

          You’re wrong, but you’re coming from the desire to prevent the unnecessary verbal abuse of human beings.
          That doesn’t suddenly make you less wrong, it doesn’t justify you’re inaccurate black and white claim.

          • Can you please make that somewhat clearer? I went over your comment several times and I was not able to make sense of it.

          • I went over it several times and I’m not sure how to make it clearer sorry. : /
            I can try and summarise?
            There’s not only two choices, you can take a valid and good point from a poorly delivered argument.
            Attila is wrong.

            That help?

          • Oh bloody hell I’m an idiot. I accidentally read your post as a reply to mine. Makes much more sense now. >.>

  • Seems like she should be writing fan fiction for Twilight, not computer games.

    If you want combat to be skippable, then it probably shouldn’t be included in the game in the first place. Most games provide interactive challenges that are intrinsically satisfying in their mechanics. If you don’t want to participate in them, you’re kinda missing the point.

  • Heh, I love it how people think that by suggesting a fast-forward button in combat (something some people can want, especially if they’re constantly losing the same fight) is attacked because everybody feels as if it was implemented then every single gamer in the world will be FORCED to use it in every single combat.

    • The problem, Kaiser, is that if gameplay is skippable, then it means that the gameplay has to be completely divorced from the story. Not just for those who are skipping, but everyone playing any version of the game.

      This is what the uproar is about, gameplay and story are being treated by Hepler as being mutually exclusive, and that’s not just wrong, it’s diametrically opposite to what a game writer should believe.

      Gameplay should be the driving force behind the narrative, not a distraction from it.

  • She’s become the “poster child” for what’s wrong with BioWare, but that might not be her fault. EA probably helped push BioWare down a different path, but the focus on gutting a product before release and selling the component parts as DLC has, more or less, destroyed a franchise I loved at the start (Mass Effect) and certainly done no favours for their newest (Dragon Age). Still, a DLC-centric business model shouldn’t necessarily hinder writing.

    Really, the culprits here are probably Laidlaw and Gaider. Hepler’s a pretty terrible writer – that’s my completely amateur opinion, based solely on the fact that her contributions to Dragon Age just left me trying to skip as much conversation as possible – but clearly she was hired as she was what was wanted. I think the biggest problem stems from the fact that the focus BioWare games is steadily becoming romance/dating sim rather than story-driven RPG. Now I think back to Baldur’s Gate 2 as where it all started. The romance subplots seemed like a novelty – the thing of teenaged nerd fantasy (hot drow chick? yes pls!) – but although the games have matured, these “romances” have not. They feel stiff and forced (snicker), there is no real emotion, no empathy to the involved parties.
    Maybe I’m bitter and jaded, maybe I’m not playing video games the “right” way (that’s a possibility…) but these poorly written dialogues diminish the overall product. My heroes are fighters, not lovers. They form bonds with team members and companions to overcome a Great Evil. I’d much rather have a Mass Effect where I can build the relationship between BroShep and Garrus or Wrex, as a pair of soldiers hunting traitors to deliver vigilante justice. I should want to keep Morrigan close because she can rain devastation on my enemies and although I put on a show of fighting the Darkspawn for the good of all people, I get a kick out of tormenting my enemies when they try to beg for their lives; and not because I’m trying to get some hot Witch of the Wilds action.

    If BioWare truly wants to deliver something that gamers actually want then provide a way to turn off these badly written romances. In fact, cut them completely and offer them up as Day-1 DLC – the “Canon Fanfiction Pack”.

    I’m going to stop here before I inadvertently bait flames.

  • I don’t see anything wrong with what she said. I wouldn’t mind a “skip battle” button being implemented in modern video games. It would make replaying a game so much more fun.

      • I think he’s saying that for more ‘choice-dependent games’ like Witcher 2, or ME series, he would find it far better to replay and see the different consequences for differing actions without having to repeat the battles he already won on his first playthrough.

        …or maybe he’s just talking gibberish.

        • Therein lies the problem with this illusion of choice these games present; your choices clearly have little bearing of you still have to repeat the same series of events (ie the battles).

  • Honestly I’m surprised it’s taken this long for it to reach this point. The hate for this woman is broad and passionate over at a certain image board.
    She’s become the icon of everything that has gone wrong or that fans just dont like with bioware since DA2.
    Is that fair? of course not, she’s just one person and only a part of a team. One person can only fuck up so much on their own before they need help.

  • I’m sorry, but calling Jennifer Hepler ‘Hamburger Helper’ is funny. Not in a schadenfreude way, just funny. It works on multiple levels. It’s excellent.

  • Wow, what a seriously huge overreaction. What sort of a said idiot without a life would you need to be to even get upset at her comments, let alone harass the poor woman?

  • Wow. People sure do think they know what a game writer has to be. I think a lot of you guys would be surprised how many people in the industry don’t care that much for playing actually playing games.
    Tons of writers don’t read. Lots of artists don’t like art. I remember reading an interview with Amy Sedaris (a very funny writer if you don’t know her) where she admitted that she can’t stand watching comedy. The gaming world would be a very different place if Tim Sweeney played more.

    As gamers we bitch and moan about cookie cutter designs and the general lack of creativity in the industry, but then we go out and demand that the people designing and making games meet these random and pointless criteria.
    Knock her for crappy writing and stupid ideas all you want, but never complain that someone whose entire job is being creative doesn’t fit in.

    • I would theorise that a good reason why these “not gamer” devs are hitting nerves is because there are many qualified (and aspiring) writers/artists etc. who DO enjoy video games having trouble getting work in their chosen field, while these people who don’t really care about their medium get to create it.

      I’m not saying they will do it better (often input from outside media helps it grow) but the ideology that they would is easy to accept.

    • I can’t think of many if any writers I think are any good that don’t read. To which industry are you referring? I suppose I admittedly don’t think there’s a great many good writers in the video game industry (I said many, not none), maybe this is because so many of them don’t read? I love listening to how Brandon Sanderson was reading [insert book here] and it gave him a realisation about his own writing and how to improve it. Many great authors will tell you reading is just as important as practicing your writing if you want to improve, the others will say it’s almost as important.

      • Well I was talking in general, but games are probably a good example because even within writing courses it’s difficult to focus on it specifically. So we capture a lot of people who didn’t sign up for it (ie, they got into it to write movies, TV shows or novels).

        If you can achieve the result (a good game story) it doesn’t really matter if you’ve never picked up a controller in your life. If I write a pop song that is enjoyed by millions of pop fans, what do they care if I don’t listen to pop music?
        Can’t make a good game without people who know games, but just because you know games doesn’t mean you play them (and just because you play them doesn’t mean you know them).

        As for writers who don’t read, well there’s about a ton of great stories out there written by people who don’t even consider themselves writers. There’s a ton of scripts, novels and songs out there by people who know the market so well it ruins everything they produce. Then there’s a billion shades inbetween.

        By making it gamers only we cut outselves off from the guys who’ll write the stuff that breaks the rules and changes everything. The guys who never played the game that soured everyone to the idea. That applies to pretty much every role on the team.

        Again, not saying we should only use writers or that this particular writer is brilliant, just that it’s very important that people don’t care more about her methods/gamer cred than what she actually produces. If it’s garbage it’s garbage. If it’s great then it’s great.

        • Oh of course, I’m not going to try and argue that everything written by people who aren’t experts is going to be horrible, because it’s simply not true. But I would argue that the amazing works that come out some random are the exception not the rule. For every savant there’s thousands of twilight fan fiction pieces. Furthermore there’s a long and varied history of writers who hit on something big (and genuinely brilliant), got published and failed to produce anything else of note in their lifetimes.

          You may not need to play games or enjoy playing games to write them, but it will certainly help you, if nothing else to connect with your audience.

          “If you can achieve the result (a good game story) it doesn’t really matter if you’ve never picked up a controller in your life. If I write a pop song that is enjoyed by millions of pop fans, what do they care if I don’t listen to pop music?”

          Quite right, but as you said, if you can achieve the result, this woman can’t, and part of the reason for that could very possibly be because of her outlook on games. It isn’t DEFINITELY the reason, but it’s a fairly logical conclusion to draw, and even if it wasn’t negatively affecting her writing, if she shared the tastes of her audience she’d surely be better able to cater too them.

        • It’s more about the position and the context than the event of somebody making something of quality in itself. When taking the original overblown interview which implied that she care not for games at all, we are given the impression that there’s somebody employed to build something we care about who does not care for or understand the experience we’re looking for and effectively paying for.

          There’s nothing really wrong with the cross-fertilisation of disciplines in media, but you always want it to be for the right reasons. For instance I wouldn’t be happy hearing a news journalist say they don’t care about the truth, or hear a footy coach say they never cared to play.

  • This is the reason I sometimes keep to myself the fact that I’m a gamer. People have a stereotypical view of angry nerds abusing people on the internet, screaming racist, homophobic, and sexist comments into their mics. This kind of stuff just reinforces that stereotype.

  • On what she’s saying I’m a bit torn. I can certainly understand why people would want to skip the combat sections of gameplay, there’s been times when I’ve wanted to skip combat sections myself (such as almost every boss battle in FF13), but at the same time I consider those combat sections as vital to the story and structure of the game as the cutscenes and dialogue.
    For example to me a game like Mass Effect is just as much about Shepard fighting through a horde of Geth or Collectors to reach an objective as it is about uncovering the Reapers plot or forming relationships with your crew members. Those combat situations help establish the story and the characters. The universe is at war and Shepard is a soldier. If you take away the combat it’s much harder for the story to convey those things.

    The hate this women is getting though is entirely unwarranted. People should be able to express their opinions without having them taken out of context and without being attacked for them. Anyone involved with the harassment of this woman should be ashamed.

  • pssst the 4chang /v/idya gaem awards named an award the hamburger helper award for worst writing for a reason.

  • BITCH EXPRESSED AN OPINION THAT IS CONTRARY TO EVERYTHING I HAVE INVESTED MY IDENTITY IN AND BASED ALL MY SELF-WORTH ON, SHE MUST BE BURNED AT THE STAKE IN THE VILLAGE SQUARE AND HER FAMILY EXILED AND HER DWELLING RAISED TO THE GROUND SO THAT I CAN FEEL VALIDATED.

    Sarcasm in order to express how I’m seeing more and more similarities between (some) gamers and religious fundamentalists these days.

    • Fair call but people can be like that about anything, my mother is hardcore religious nut, my father is hardcore AFL. The similarities are quite striking, I actually think their relationship would have worked had they been so stupidly devoted to the same thing.
      Ultimately religious fundamentalists are usually (not always) the type of human being they are regardless of religion, it just provides the perfect outlet for zealotry.

      • True.

        A lot of people just don’t know how to disagree without being an asshole. I like to think that a lot of the vitriol comes from teenagers because they have the hormones making them all emotional-like. But unfortunately grown-ass men and women can be just as stupid.

  • This is exactly what FFX did right, after you watched a cut scene you could travel to a theatre and watch it over again if you wanted to.

    I admit there have been times where I was annoyed having to play through an entire RPG game that requires grinding just to see an alternate ending (mostly thinking of Radiata Stories here, where the endings split off in the middle.)

    While I wholeheartedly think this woman does not deserve abuse for stating her opinion, I would say that people who wish to only watch the cut scenes should consider just going on youtube and watching them. It’s what I do when I enjoy a story but find the game play no fun (which honestly is uncommon.) Or heck, have a gamer friend play it while you watch! My husband hates the old PS1 controllers but wanted to enjoy Silent Hill, so he watched while I played through it.

  • Hepler is part of the cancer killing games. Leaving all that misogynistic crap at the door, she is representative of a huge problem of not trusting games with story, and instead keeping them in completely different countries, fiercely segregated. People treat games like they are completely incapable in creating involving stories, and because of this complete distrust of video games, writers write interactive movies with gameplay intermissions.

    All forms of writing are not equal. I’m not a religious man, but Christ! Just because someone wrote a good movie does not mean they are capable of writing a good comic book, and just because someone can write good game criticism does not mean they are capable of writing a good game. Creative mediums are different and just because we call them all writers doesn’t mean they really do the same thing. Sure, someone is capable of writing something for a medium that they don’t particularly enjoy, but those people are rarely considered great writers by any stretch.

    Writing is tied up in design a lot more than you realize. Someone has to write your quests and when they write those quests they have to write the objectives and the motivations and they have to be fun. If those things aren’t all tied together in an interesting way the experience tends to not be fun. If someone else designs a quest and tells a writer to fill in the story the chances that the story elements are uninteresting greatly increase. And if a writer who doesn’t care for gameplay designs a quest the chances of it being fun greatly decrease. Design and writing go hand in hand a lot more than you realize. If all you’re talking about is the books in skyrim or the background lore in some world you might be right, but the bulk of a game’s writing is directly tied to what you as a player are actually doing and if the writer doesn’t like being the player you might have a problem.

    If you still think I’m the crazy one you should listen to the Irrational interview with Guillermo del Toro. They talk in depth about the importance of understanding the medium you’re working in.

  • I have to admit, I’m perplexed why people would be so hateful of her.

    And all those people complaining about BioWare making “dating sims” or something… you ARE aware the romances are OPTIONAL, right?

    That said, clearly marking which conversational decisions would be considered “romantic” and which would be considered “just friends” would probably help the “no-romos” feel better whilst also providing more direct control over how your character relates with to the other character.

    Still, I don’t really understand why people seem so…. horrified… by the mere PRESENCE of OPTIONAL romantic elements in a game.

    • I’m pretty tired at this point, but I must make the effort!
      So to put it as simply as I can. People don’t mind romances in Bioware’s games, they mind how much of a focus the game has become. If:
      Mass Effect 1 = 90% plot – 10% dating sim
      and
      Mass Effect 2 = 50% plot – 50% dating sim (yes that’s overblown, but I’m trying to make the point, and illustrate the concern that one day it could be that much)

      If deciding not to engage in a romance is taking more than an hour or two out of a twenty five hour game then that’s a decent chunk that could have been focused on other things.

      • You have a point, but even as a matter of degree things get blown out of proportion.

        Even in Mass Effect 2, the romantic elements were a very small part of the game.

        The “time spent on this romance could’ve been spent on other things” is a legitimate complaint (at least for those that don’t enjoy the romantic elements), but does it really justify the amount of sheer vitriol and infighting over them?

        I mean, the romantic elements are clearly less than 5% of the game’s total. Yet the proportion of Mass Effect discussion that focuses on the romance is clearly greater than 5%. And there’s so much fighting over it.

        In short, I think the “no-romos” are really making a mountain out of a molehill.

        If you don’t like the romances, don’t participate in them. BioWare isn’t ATTACKING you simply by putting an optional feature you don’t use into a game.

        I mean, take an FPS game which includes a weapon that no one ends up using. There wouldn’t be literally thousands of forum threads about how “the mere existence of this weapon in the game makes me uncomfortable” or “this weapon’s presence destroys the game” or anything like that.

        Plus, there are players that think the romantic elements of the game are a bonus. What’s wrong with catering to their tastes via an optional in-game feature?

  • Some of these responses is exactly why the industry struggles to publish the more outside-the-box titles.

    Since when did combat = gaming??

    There are gamers out there that aren’t into shooters, that hate grinding, and really don’t see any ‘fun’ (because that’s the point of a game, to have fun) from moving from level to level. There are ME players that won’t try out the co-op multiplayer at all – they’ll just play through on Story mode and love it! They might even make it their favourite *game*.

    There is nothing wrong with what she’s saying and if they implemented a few of her ideas, it won’t be the end of gaming as we know it. It’ll just mean MORE gaming as we don’t know it. The industry needs diversity or we’ll just stagnate into a multitude of COD clones and WOW emulators. Great if you like that sort of thing, but it’s limiting the market and will only make gaming less and less profitable as costs go up.

    Stop getting on your high horse about what you believe is a game and consider that there are more than a handful of gamer groups. The industry isn’t going to stop making shooters – but it might start making more games that aren’t shooters. And I, for one, will be cheering them on.

    Think of the games that kids play. They’re not all competitive, and they certainly aren’t all about fighting. Games are about fun. The medium the video game industry uses – pcs, consoles and handhelds – encourage interactivity but there is no way that making a game focused on narrative means that it’s no longer interactive or fun. Maybe it won’t appeal to you but that doesn’t make it no longer a game. Just different.

  • While its a bit harsh to be harassing her over the phone, people like her ARE cancer on the gaming industry. DA2 and SWTOR are prime examples of people like her having an input.

  • It sucks that the internet as a thing can descend on one or two people so ferociously.

    As far as my personal opinion goes, I would not choose her to write any part of a game I intended to enjoy. From what I’ve read of her taste it is likely entirely opposed to my own. I don’t see how going beyond that is necessary. Especially going so far as the ‘Hamburger Helper’ bit… I mean come on, really? That’s definitely crossing several lines there.

    Another personal opinion? Hamburger Helper does just fine on its own. *hungry*

  • Okay, I’m all caught up now.

    All this over a 2006 interview? Seriously?! Okay, that’s just petty.

    It’s not like any of her ideas are horrendously bad. Thinking outside the box is a requirement for any and all creative folks. Developers should be doing more of that anyway. Try something new and if it fails miserably then simply chalk it up to experience. Or test the market first.

    The problem here is that Bioware reacted and responded to the prodding/provocation. Hopefully they’ll learn from this themselves and not bite when being baited. Especially over something that happened 6 years ago…

  • An option that, despite not being forced upon me, I dislike? And a WOMAN is promoting that option? BETTER ATTACK HER GENDER THEN

    Fuck gamers.

    And you know what? Though normally I’d say I wouldn’t care for the option and skipping gameplay seems kind of silly (though I wouldn’t pitch a fucking fit like those moron gamers were), these are BIOWARE games. Anyone who has played their games should understand why a skip combat button would be useful. The games are extremely replayable. Yet there are only three classes – rogue, mage, and warrior – and once you have played each of those there is really nothing new to the combat, yet there will ALWAYS be new dialogue and paths to explore. I like the story, characters, and dialogue in Dragon Age (and Mass Effect, to a lesser extent), and I want to explore every option of the game, so after the first few playthroughs, the combat becomes more or less downtime between cut scenes.

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