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.

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.

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