Bioware’s Dr. Ray Muzyka Responds To The Bullies

Bioware’s Dr. Ray Muzyka Responds To The Bullies

There is no act more cowardly than bullying, and when that act is perpetrated on a grand scale the impact and scale of that cowardice is increased multifold. I was absolutely horrified at the treatment Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler had to endure over the past couple of days, and today Bioware founder Dr. Ray Muzyka responded directly to those who have been attacking Jennifer.

“Jennifer is a valued, talented employee who has been with BioWare for many years and we hope will be with us for many more.” said Muzyka. “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.”

In addition Bioware has committed $1000 to Bullying Canada in Jennifer’s name.

I’m not going to rag on about this, because it’s been covered multiple times by multiple outlets, but I find the whole thing deplorable. Nothing bothers me more than a bully, and when that bully is protected by the anonymity of the internet the whole thing becomes more insidious. I just consider myself lucky that I’m part of a community that seems to (for the most part) have a healthy respect for one another. Long may that continue!


  • Hell hath no fury like a nerd scorned.

    The sheer bile, rage and hatred directed at this woman was just vile. There’s no other word for it. Sometimes the internet really brings out the worst in people, and it makes me sick to the stomach, each and every time.

    What really makes me sick is the realisation of how many people responsible for attacking this woman would’ve just done so because they saw everyone else doing it and decided to jump on the hatewagon. That’s the scary part. Like a pack of dogs just following suit.

    • As Mark said, it’s just pure cowardice.

      These are the kind of people that it wouldn’t even be worth braking if you saw them crossing the street..*

      *Mildly sensationalist comment 😛

      • I honestly hope that people that do this sort of thing one day receive such treatment themselves. I don’t wish them harm or anything – I hope they get to feel what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such behaviour.

        And I hope they feel absolutely terrible.

    • It’s the glee with which they did it that makes me feel sick.

      The collective sense of outrage about a game many of them probably never played, about fake quotes none of them bothered to check, to the point that they’d call her phone number and leave abusive messages. Or force her to shut her Twitter down by sending hundreds of hate-filled tweets.

      Then the defensiveness – people actually justifying the bullying as deserved, because she wrote something in a video game, as part of her job, that they didn’t agree with. Or that it was important to heap abuse on this writer, because of something intangible she represented about the industry.

      It’s appalling.

    • It’s the glee with which they did it that makes me feel sick.

      The collective sense of outrage about a game many of them probably never played, about fake quotes none of them bothered to check, to the point that they’d call her phone number and leave abusive messages. Or force her to shut her Twitter down by sending hundreds of hate-filled tweets.

      Then the defensiveness – people actually justifying the bullying as deserved, because she wrote something in a video game, as part of her job, that they didn’t agree with. Or that it was important to heap abuse on this writer, because of something intangible she represented about the industry.

      It’s appalling.

        • Typical troll, you start losing an argument, so clearly those arguing against you must be some how financially tied to the entity you are trying to bag out, coz you know, people who could afford that would have nothing better to do with their lives than sit on random video game sites defending their money.

          News flash buddy. They are arguing with you because the only thing your brain is useful for is keeping your ears apart.

  • A good response 🙂

    On a side note, they need to change the name of that fund, it sounds like it’s a fund set up to bully Canada… Possibly by the Americans? ;P

  • I hate the cowadice of bullying and yes the anonymity of the internet seems to give every little prick a voice. look at any thread under an article and the rudeness and idiocy seems to be of higher then in person due to little concequence

          • You mean setting targets?
            Well, you better go and protest at every single shop in your local shopping centre!

            You’re right, business planning is the very devil! We need businesses to be far more unorganised and show signs of instability!

          • Zing. How did I not see that coming. Let me guess you are from a upper middle class socio-economic cohort…

          • Do you need a translator? I’m versed in both the ‘lingo’ of the ‘downtrodden’ as well as, you know, civilised speech like Loops is using.

            Chuloopa says “That would require education”

            Translated into something that you may understand better:

            “Bro, go ‘hit up’ that crib that gives you them book learnin’s, yo'”

            Stick that in your pipe, and toke it. HAH i’m so edgy o.0

          • Such a magnificently erudite intellectual response to a methodological question that has been plaguing western academia for hundreds of years. Do tell, what was the ontological framework you used to establish the epistemological conceptualization of your assumption that I was uneducated.

            I’m sure that the Kotaku crowdsourcing marketeers would love to hear your response.

          • “Hello pot meet kettle” Should be “Hello pot, meet kettle.”
            “Let me guess you are from a upper middle class socio-economic cohort…” should be “Let me guess you, are from a upper middle class socio-economic cohort…”
            “Blow harder chump the sharks are in the water and you are on their feeding list.” should be “Blow harder chump, the sharks are in the water and you are on their feeding list.”
            It’s the little things that matter 😛

          • Oooh, aren’t I brilliant. That should be “Let me guess, you are from a upper middle class, socio-economic cohort…” 😐

          • Maybe this time I’ll get it right? “Let me guess, you are from an upper middle class, socio-economic cohort…” I’ll just stop now before I embarrass myself anymore… 😛

          • I believe it was somewhere around “hypocrite pipe” that I began to “conceptualise” about your level of education. Now that I can see you do have a grasp of some English language, I can only conclude that you thought you were coming from some high ground above inferior minds, and attempting to talk down to their level, judging by your inane opening post.

            Frankly, i’d rather believe you were just stupid. I think this is worse.

  • “I just consider myself lucky that I’m part of a community that seems to (for the most part) have a healthy respect for one another.”

    You sure about that, Mark?

      • So the most basic respect for other people is White Knighting now, is it?

        Grow up, Josh. If you’re seriously defending the behaviour of people attacking a developer because she wrote something they didn’t like, you’re completely misguided.

        • Actually, she wrote something terrible, and is in an industry that is incredibly hard to get into and doesn’t appreciate the medium at all. It’s fairly insulting.

          • When did she disrespect the medium? She said she’s not a fan of playing games, and that she thinks there should be a story mode for games.

            You don’t have to be a fan of the final product to be good at your job. Many actors don’t watch their own films.

            Also, I agree with her story mode idea. The very fact that Mass Effect 3 will have one means I’m not alone.

            You can get angry at her if she’s bad at her job, or even if she says she doesn’t value her job, but even if either of those were true the level of pure hate the internet spewed is not justifiable.

  • I’m so sorry I gave you guys money and you can’t take something as simple as being called fat on the internet while Notch and Gabe Newell deal with it all the time in the classiest way possible. Let’s all feel sorry for the employees of a big AAA company that can’t take being called names.

    • Firstly, I’ve never heard Notch being called fat. In fact, I’ve rarely heard anyone disrespecting him.

      And “fat” was hardly the worst word used to describe her. The C word, for instance, was used a lot.

      Not to mention that when people call Gabe fat, it’s used in a jovial manner. This doesn’t necessarily make those right, but these insults aimed at Ms. Hepler were fueled by loathing, which is a very important distinction.

  • As you can see, from most of the comments above, even white knighting in a pack is a form of bullying.

    People have opinions. Deal with it.

    As for this particular incident? Well, I haven’t seen what’s been posted so I won’t pass comment on that. But it does appear to be a storm in a teacup.

    Also, a $1000 donation? Are you kidding me?! I helped raise over $15,000 in 2 months for a child with cerebral palsy – and that’s only the latest non-commercial fund raiser. Get back to me when they want to get serious ant donate $100,000.

    • White knighting in a pack is a form of bullying?

      That reeks of the arguments you hear in America about fundamentalists bullying gays and then crying out that they’re being oppressed when people try to stop their bullying. “You’re not tolerating my intolerance so you’re just as bad as I am!”


      If someone is being an asshole, telling them that they’re being an asshole does not bring you down to their level.

      • Except that’s not all that’s happening here. Personal attacks are not constructive in any form – whether that be in defence of another or purely for trolling purposes.

        There’s a world of difference between pointing out the fallibility of others and suggesting ways to improve oneself and just calling someone an asshole.

        • Some people have tried to respond constructively. Some people have responded by simply calling out the assholes for being assholes.

          Your statement that mass defending of someone that has been unfairly attacked is a form of bullying is still completely absurd.

          • So “ganging” up on someone who has a differing opinion/lifestyle/hair colour/weight issue/parents/sexual orientation/etc to push only your version is now not bullying?

            Okay, that’s your opinion. It’s wrong, but you’re entitled to that.

          • Its not ganging up. Its just that more people disagree with him than agree. You defend peoples right to an opinion. Everyone is voicing theirs, if more people share one opinion than another its not ganging up. Its not like we all huddled in a dark corner of the internet saying “hey see that guy over there, he is wrong, lets all attack him at the same time”

          • It’s not about who agrees/disagrees or how many. It’s how that message is conveyed. Questioning someones intelligence, calling them an asshole, etc. isn’t constructive and is bullying. Name calling and any form of belittling is bullying.

            Change starts with the individual. Own that first.

          • While i agree, at the same time, from everything that i read, it was simply returning the tone that had already been used by the individuals themselves. Not saying that makes it right, but sets the standard.

          • As I just wrote, “Change starts with the individual. Own that first.”. Set your own standards. Just because everyone else is speeding on the freeway doesn’t mean you should too 🙂

          • That’s completely divorced from your original point.

            Your original point was that mass white knighting was a form of bullying. Now you’re trying to say that bullying in response to bullying is just is bad.

            The first point is absurd because white knighting and bullying are two separate things. White knighting can present it self in the form of bullying or it could present it self in the form of reasonable argument. The latter is generally what’s happening here.

            The second point is true. Bullying in response to bullying is still bullying. Guess what? Nobody is disagreeing on that. I wasn’t. I was saying that calling someone out for being an asshole is not bullying.

          • “That’s completely divorced from your original point.”

            No, it’s not.

            “Your original point was that mass white knighting was a form of bullying.”

            No, I said based on the comments on this article. White knighting doesn’t have to be in defence of a female – or even a person at all for that matter.

            But we’re getting off track again. My original comment was in relation to comments and replies posted by others in this article. That’s all.

          • “Your right to swing your arm goes as far as my nose”

            When people start flailing their arms about and start bonking people on the nose, telling them to stop is not bullying.

            People are allowed to have different opinions/hair colours/sexual orientations/favourite breeds of dog/religions and whatever. As soon as they start using that as motivation to cause harm to others, then telling them that they’re wrong is not “pushing your version” or bullying, it’s trying to stop people who are pushing their version and/or bullying.

            Everyone is entitled to an opinion but having an opinion means nothing if you can’t justify it. Having an opinion or belief does not make it sacred. Especially if you’re using that opinion to cause harm to others. Calling people out on that and trying to get them to change their opinion is not bullying.

          • You’ve missed the point. Go back and read my last response to Blood Apathy. You most likely missed it due to your reply.

            The breakdown is; It’s not the opinion but how that opinion is conveyed.

            Which makes many posting here, that are against bullying, guilty of the same themselves.

  • I just don’t get what the point of this is. If people are genuinely unhappy with the quality of an aspect of a Bioware game, the best way you can show bioware how unhappy you are is by not buying that game.

    This solves nothing. Just the Internet being the Internet.

    • The problem here is common sense being common once again. These trolls who whine and complain honestly cant wait to throw their money at the exact people they complain about. The question isnt if the game is good, they are sheep they’ll buy it anyway They just feel that if they pay their $80 or however much that they deserve all the extras regardless if they did cost more to produce, regardless of anything.

  • This whole episode disgusts me.
    I also think it’s beyond time for gamers to stop yelling “white knight” every time someone displays a bit of sympathy for the plight of a fellow human who happens to be female.

    • Agreed! I hereby propose that term should be banned from the internet, along with “Haters gonna hate” – that’s an equally annoying one!

  • “There is no act more cowardly than bullying”

    “I just consider myself lucky that I’m part of a community that seems to (for the most part) have a healthy respect for one another.”

    Really? I mean, obviously there are a lot of great commenters on here, but the level of Ashcraft/Plunkett bashing is getting nuts. Has it been directly addressed yet by Mark or Tracey? How is it allowed to continue on here without any sort of Australian editorial intervention? Genuinely curious.

    • There’s a ‘Report’ button next to comments that people are meant to press if the comment is offensive to them, or inappropriate, or any other thing that might bother them (like US editor bashing). I think maybe there isn’t enough people using it. It’s there to let the Kotaku AU team what we think isn’t acceptable around here, so if nobody uses it they don’t know what we expect.

    • People bash that pair in response to the terrible articles they publish. You can’t put something up in a public space and expect you’re going to be absolutely immune to criticism.

      • In an article the other day someone suggested that Plunkett should be burned to death.

        Do you consider that to be criticism?

        • Complaining about single line, cut and paste articles is fine

          That goes to far and should be reported. Also Kotaku staff don’t read every comment made on articles so unless something is reported they may not have ever seen it.

          Personally I would recommend reporting a post like that if you see another one

        • I remember seeing that, and I remember being disgusted and reporting it.

          But that doesn’t make valid criticisms about Plunkett and Ashcraft’s work any less valid. I don’t think either of them are bad people. A little misogynistic perhaps, but malevolent isn’t a word I would use to describe them. I think they are well-meaning individuals who do show morsels of talent here and there. I do not think that they are brilliant journalists, however.

    • I agree. I’m fine with calling people out for writing only a single line for an article or getting facts wrong, but the personal attacks are bloody stupid. People like Chazz and a tonne of others have angry words on every US post about the author.

      The reason people are doing it is because the US authors don’t respond to the comments, and they don’t even see the articles. Logan/Tracy/Mark don’t have hate mail because the trolls know that they’ll be called out by the authors.

  • I strongly suspect that people use “white knighting” interchangeably with “defending”, which kind of makes it a meaningless term and kind of a stupid criticism.

    • It’s generally used derisively to try and make it appear that the person doing the defending is not doing so because their reasoning is sound but because there is a fair maiden in distress.

    • I always considered “white knights” to be those who used their dictation of morals to simultaneously entrench their position in an argument to the side of what is “good” and belittle the detractors.

      It comes up a lot as a counter insult in threads regarding money-grabbing business tactics and piracy, where I’ll admit to using it a lot.

      I do think it applies here though, since while there are plenty of asshats here arguing, there’s plenty of people exclaiming “How horrible some people are!” As if their claim to the moral high ground actually means anything.

  • You can say how much people disgust you or how reprehensible this is, but at the end of the day the people who originated the hatred for Hepler honestly give zero cares and are making it sound like they’ve raised money for charity by bullying Hepler (in a joking, facetious way). You don’t combat 4chan. You grow thick skin, don’t bait them and accept that the internet has places where people shittalk for shittalking’s sake.

    • That sounds really cynical, honestly.

      I don’t accept that this kind of abuse is ever normal, defensible or justifiable. Particularly when the reasoning behind it it so stupid.

      • It’s going to happen regardless, you can’t change the nature of the internet (Jonathan Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory applies). The best you can do is take it on the chin and not aggravate things by saying that people are just calling you a bad writer and poor choice for a developer because “you have a vagina and a job in the games industry and they have neither”. There’s no defending the reprehensible behaviour of trolls, but they aren’t going to go away if you donate a pitiful amount to a local charity either.

    • Sounds a bit like saying ‘well, grandpa is just from a different era’. It may be true but that doesn’t make it acceptable.


    Bioware professionalism. They can put out a decent statement now, but when this was going down they were just as idiotic as the troll.

    Hepler and co just fueled the fire further especially Hepler’s idiotic comment; “There’re just jealous that I have a VAGINA and akso get to work in the games industry” (paraphrasing) that and she incited it in the first place by posting stupid crap on her twitter after a trip to Reddit. Everyone has critics. Don’t poke the bear.

    Did this get out of hand? Yep. Did people handle the situation well? nope. Should Hepler have gone on Reddit, then post stupid comments on twitter? Yeah, could have avoided this.

    There is a core complaint that needs to be dealt with like the writing (yup, it’s pretty bad) and Bioware’s steady decline into mediocrity. The bullying isn’t justified but these complaints have been around for a year minimum and Bioware have done nothing as far as facing the criticism or learning from their mistakes. It just got left until the internet exploded.

    • This sums it up nicely for me, cheers. I wasn’t aware that those at Bioware were just as childish in their own response to this.

      Live and learn, eh?

    • “Bioware have done nothing as far as facing the criticism or learning from their mistakes.” Bioware don’t need to do anything. The internet has no right to tell them what to do with their games, just like it has no right to tell authors how to write their books. People can complain all they want but nobody has to do anything about the criticism. Just because the people who don’t like things are the loudest doesn’t mean they need to be paid attention to.

      And I wish people would stop saying Hepler deserved it and it was her own fault. Nobody deserves what happened to her. That’s as idiotic as saying a rape victim deserved it because they dressed sexy.

      • No one deserves such a vitriolic response. That’s true.

        But most of us also know fire is hot and sticking your head into an open flame won’t end well. The internet is crawling with trolls though who are always on the lookout for an easy target. It would help these targets if they didn’t cover themselves in fluorescent paint, jump up and down while screaming “look at me” too. As the saying goes “Don’t feed the troll”.

        • But the apathy is feeding them just as much as those who antagonise them. If people don’t call them out on it then they’ll think what they’re doing is okay. Not all “trolls” are just in it for the attention, some of them actually believe in the vitriol they spew.

          • I didn’t say the trolls are seeking attention but the target can sometimes paint a, well a target, on themselves. It doesn’t excuse it but can explain it. Sorry if you missed that but I tend to waffle on sometimes and people miss what I’m trying to convey 🙂 lol

            Sometimes saying nothing is the best response though. I’ve received my fair share of hate mail in the past and it’s best to ignore it. Replying only feeds their desire to continue.

      • I didn’t say she deserved it, I’m saying she incited it.

        You’ll find in most mediums that the creative types will actual respond to their criticism, because they actually want their fans to continue opening their wallets… or they could just continue to boost their metacritic ratings and chase the “COD audience”.

        • Yeah sorry, I know I was replying to you but I more directing that last bit to people like Lord Crumplebottom and The Steeng. Sorry. 🙂

    • Oh please, the majority of the abuse was directed at hepler before she responded back. I think her response was justified. Whiny little manchildren are jsut trying to pretend like they aren’t bad people because Helper has the audacity to fire one shot back in her own defence.

      • There has always been criticism of Hepler for both her DA2 writing and the infamous interview she did with Killer Betties (long gone from the internet now).

        That criticism was on the front page of reddit, she saw it, things got heated and the reddit mods went on a ban spree (pretty much everyone except hepler). After that she got all passive aggressive on twitter and everything went to shit after that.

        I hope here little dig was worth pissing off the trolls for.

  • “In addition Bioware has committed $1000 to Bullying Canada in Jennifer’s name.”

    Gotta love the phrasing of this line.

  • Men, we doth have thy swords to slay in twine trolls from internet yonder. Stand firm, for thy maidan will bequeth thee with intercourse and riches and thou peasantry shalt exhalt thy name for ages to come.

    Also, Balckwater hit the nail on the head. She fueled some much flame with her idiotic comments. DONT FEED THE TROLLS AND THEY WILL STARVE.

  • So many removed comments, i didn’t realize i was posting on a board run from the peoples republic of china.
    My bad dawgs.

  • one of the most terrible things about this is that it’s really making the fanbase look terrible, i know that there are probably a lot of mass effect fans who aren’t agreeing with this, but the vocal majority make mass effect fans look like ungrateful.

  • Wow, so much angst here, who’d have thought the negativity would flow through? Sometimes I wonder whether it’d be better to just ignore that first inflammatory comment and mentally rebuke rather than getting into it on teh interwebs…

    Having said that tho – do agree with $1,000 being a poor amount of money to donate, it’s like a child giving someone 5c out of their pocket money and asking to be thought of as charitable.

  • The saddest part is that the legit concerns about Biowares reduced writing quality will be lost in the sea of anti woman entitled man children vs the white knights of internet justice society. Nobody deserves this treatment, no matter how poor their performance.

  • So why are they doing this? This is the first I’ve heard of this issue.

    That poor lady tho, the internet can be pretty awful

  • I find it re-assuring that at least one person at bioware seems to be aware that combat in their games is incredibly boring, but at the same time I find it disturbing that they want to skip to seeing more of the story.. 😛

  • Couldn’t expect much less from such misinformed foolish net-trolls. So she doesn’t like playing games, especially the combat? Well good thing she’s not the combat designer. I’ve seen a number of games written by writers, or based off a novel. Not like these original stories were created by gamers, or even created with the intention of being for a game, yet the narrative still flows well with the overall game.

    Fast forwarding combat may not be a feature implemented immediately, but there’s nothing wrong with it as long as its optional. I don’t see how some people have gone as far as sending threatening emails to a person who simply focuses on the writing rather then the playing, and made some sound suggestions for potential game mechanics to be implemented.

    • The Witcher 2 is based on a book and Dragon Age 2 isn’t. The Witcher 2 has good writing and Dragon Age 2 has bad fanfiction level writing. Which one did Hepler write for? Oh, Dragon Age 2, So what the hell are you talking about?

      Your whole first paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with what anyone is talking about.

      Oh and as for that whole story mode thing? Yeah, there is a game coming out next month with it. A little game called Mass Effect 3.

      Games are games pal, not slightly interactive movies. Taking gameplay out of a game is not a game mechanic.

      • Actually I have a solution to the whole “not liking playing games” thing.

        Don’t play the games, watch someone else do it. BAM! Same experience and you’re not pulling resources away from more important part of game development.

  • Well it is not EA or this lady that are killing Bioware games or, games in general for that matter. Gamers are doing that just fine thank you very much.

    Simple fact is that the internet gives people a free pass to say what they like. Society as a whole is quite sick and the internet and the way our prisoners are treated is a very good representation of that. The internet will not change till society does. That will not happen. We have been stuck in a crappy cycle of hate and war since the year “dot”.

    Now having said that, I love the internet, games and Bioware. All in equal measure. I just find it a shame that this amazing slice of technology is going to ruin because people have forgotten how to raise their kids properly or that people have forgotten how to be nice.

    I was told that if you screw up or do something wrong then you should own up to it, take the punishment on the chin and do better. Also, that if I did it again, that I would get a smack on the backside that would hurt for a week.

  • i dont care what this dr guy is saying, hamburger helper is ruining nearly every new bioware game with her “no gameplay” mindset

    so i regret nothing, i dont like her, i never will like her

    • Nothing wrong with not liking her. Hell I was not impressed with Dragon Age 2, but there is no need to be rude or abusive about it.

  • OMG – I’m not as think as you stoned I am…but what happened with chuloopa and jerome? And I’m sure someone said VAGINA

  • I’ve no stake in the Jennifer Helper / Bioware angst, but one thing about the article caught my eye… $1000 donation?

    Crikey, they’re really pulling out all the stops to show how they feel about bullying aren’t they? Are they sure their accounts can take a beating like that? I wouldn’t want ME4 to be endangered by their gross display of philanthropy. Really, they should get on the phone to EA and see if they can bump it to $1050. Y’know.. it is for the kids after all.

  • So I’m firing up the mass effect 3 demo, it asks me if I want skip the story and focus on combat with the dialogue as non interactive cutscenes, wtf it’s an rpg why would I do that, next choice it gives me is do I want to skip all the combat ( ie the whole damn game ) and just have the story, the fact this choice is in there at all is pretty god damn lame, if she has anything at all to do with the decisions that brought about that kind of lowest common denominator thinking maybe she has a lot to answer for, when bobby kottick does something dumb he gets flack for it,this is some next level stupid, maybe bioware should take note

  • yeah yeah, blah blah she doesn’t like video games and said something about stephanie meyer blah blah people are mean blah blah donation for Canadian bullies blah blah Muzyka hopes she doesn’t quit or get snatched up to write teen movies blah blah blah… ok now that that’s all out of the way… on to the important stuff…

    Did either of them say what their position on the “Zelda is broken” debate is?

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