The ArenaNet Catastrophe Has The Whole Game Industry Rethinking Harassment Policies

Image: Guild Wars 2

One week ago, two Guild Wars 2 narrative designers, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, were fired after Price called out a player of the game on Twitter, prompting widespread backlash.

Since then, mobs have tried to employ similar tactics against more women, and game development studios have had to take a hard look at their own social media policies.

Price, a narrative designer of 10 years, had called out the player, a YouTuber, for explaining the concept of dialogue choices to her.

“Today in being a female game dev: ‘Allow me — a person who does not work with you — explain to you how you do your job,’” she tweeted, saying that she’d insta-block “the next rando asshat” who tried to do the same.

This prompted a wave of backlash from vocal members of the Guild Wars 2 community, as well as people from other places such as the Gamergate subreddit Kotaku In Action. (Deroir, the player who had responded to Price, declined to comment when reached by Kotaku.)

In response, ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien promptly fired Price, as well as her coworker Fries, who had stood up for her during the Twitter backlash. As Price would later point out, O’Brien and ArenaNet had “escalated” the situation by calling her words “attacks on the community”.

“That was active solicitation of harassment,” she wrote.

While many, including Price, have claimed that O’Brien caved to external pressure, O’Brien contended in a statement to Polygon that the decision to take action against Price was made before the backlash ensued.

“The fact that the community’s anger was escalating on July 5 could make it look like our action was a response to the community’s anger,” he said. However, the studio was closed on July 4, the day Price called out Deroir. “That wasn’t the case,” he continued. “We took action as soon as we practicably could.”

Price’s firing produced ripples. Women in game development have pointed to upswings in abuse and organised calls for firings since the incident. Hazel Monforton, a narrative designer for Arkane Studios, who recently talked about developers being harassed out of jobs after refusing to act like “customer service hotlines”, tweeted images of a petition calling for her firing and a user messaging Arkane to say that she “verbally abused” them.

“I told him to leave me alone,” she wrote of the latter. “This is what these people think they can do to us now.”

Image: Guild Wars 2

Jennifer Scheurle, game design lead at developer Opaque Space, tweeted out a lengthy screed from a fan to the studio. The fan accused Scheurle of using her account to “spread group/gender hating ideals, especially towards men”, and specifically cited what happened to Jessica Price in calling for Opaque to take action.

“Realise this,” Scheurle wrote. “The actions of ArenaNet have LITERALLY emboldened people to write to other organisations to get people from the margins fired! These actions do NOT exist in isolation.”

Another developer, who chose to remain anonymous, faced an especially coordinated attack, albeit an incompetently-handled one: The company this developer freelances for, she told Kotaku in a DM, received a “a three-digit number’s” worth of letters complaining that it was morally wrong to hire “a transgender”, that the quality of the studio’s games had gone down since she and another woman were hired, and that her Twitter account set “a bad example for the letter-writer’s children, who supposedly play this game”.

For a brief period of time, the developer said, her CEO was ready to tell her boss to fire her. Then, another employee realised something was amiss with the letters.

“Fifty or so of them glitched out with a lot of variables exposed, including %FEMALENAME,” said the developer. This made it clear that the letters were simply form letters with blank spaces for the name of any woman that the mob wanted to attack.

A deeper look at the names and emails associated with the letters went to Facebook bot profiles and people whose profiles indicated associations with Gamergate or 4chan.

“This is 100% a response to the ArenaNet thing,” the developer said. “Last Saturday there was a post on 4chan in the game’s general discussion thread that said something like ‘Reddit proved we can get bitches fired, isn’t there a female that posts here? Let’s get her fired, it’ll be awesome, we have the power to do it.’”

Game Developers Rethink Social Media

This even-more-caustic-than-usual atmosphere and the discussion surrounding it have forced game development studios to reflect on their own social media and harassment policies and, in some cases, change them.

Some studios, such as Kitfox Games and Scheurle’s employer Opaque Space, have issued statements summarising their policies and reaffirming their support for employees.

“We as a studio want to make it very clear that we always stand behind our developers and support them both online and offline to provide a professional, safe, and equitable work environment,” wrote Opaque Space founder and director Emre Deniz.

Vida Starcevic, community manager at Alan Wake and Quantum Break developer Remedy, told Kotaku in email that the studio used to take a reactive approach to social media, but has recently begun encouraging developers to be more active on their personal accounts in order to show that “a studio is its people”.

In the wake of Price and Fries’ firings, Starcevic said she started an internal dialogue aimed at nailing down the specifics of a social media policy that protects employees.

“I came to talk to Remedy’s narrative team,” she said. “Their members are the most active on Twitter, and some of them have also had very negative experiences with harassment on social media in the past, so I reached out to them about their experiences and solicited questions, because I want to be aware what their main concerns are when it comes to using social media in a professional (and personal) capacity as employees of Remedy.”

Image: Alan Wake

“We are planning for all eventualities and worst case scenarios, not because they might occur, but because we want to make sure our employees are as protected as they can be should they be subject to any kind of online harassment,” she said.

She also noted that Remedy’s been using a series of guidelines issued by the International Game Developer Association as a “very useful” resource.

The Long Dark developer Hinterland has, in the past, taken a pretty hands-off approach to social media, with no concrete policies about what employees can and cannot say on their personal accounts in place.

“People’s personal social media accounts are their personal accounts,” founder Raphael van Lierop said in an email.

“I think everyone in the studio understands that they’ll get a certain amount of public visibility through their work on the game, and they should be mindful of that. But I don’t have any intention of censoring people. If their online behaviour becomes an issue that affects our business, it’ll be something we deal with internally.”

He added, however, that the ArenaNet saga has forced Hinterland to reflect. The studio has been “informally” discussing the possibility of instituting more rigorous social media policies in the future to combat the “general climate of ‘us vs. them’ that we see in the industry at large”. But van Lierop said it will ultimately come down to what people on the team are comfortable with.

One thing’s certain, though: He does not approve of the measures ArenaNet took.

“This idea that an angry mob can get people fired because publishers like ArenaNet are scared to take some heat on behalf of their employees? It’s shameful,” van Lierop said. “Who do they think is going to make the games once all the developers have been fired? The angry internet mob? We need to find a better balance, because this entitlement culture is burning people out.”

Psychonauts and Broken Age developer Double Fine has also spent the past week looking inward.

“We have indeed just been talking about this internally,” community manager James Spafford said in an email. “Mainly we wanted to reassure our team that we are dedicated to protecting them from harassment—online or offline—and they can go about their lives knowing that they have our support.”

Through things such as the Double Fine Adventure documentary and its regular Amnesia Fortnight game jam series, Double Fine has tried to maintain an atmosphere of openness. Spafford said the company wants that to extend to employees’ personal conduct, as well. On social media, they’re free to talk about their careers, goings-on at Double Fine, and causes they believe are important.

The studio doesn’t specifically restrict anything, but if trouble arises, it asks that they go to Spafford and request aid rather than trying to resolve the situation themselves.

“This level of openness is quite rare in our industry, and because we ask our team to be part of that, it’s essential for them to know that if they somehow ended up the target of a hate mob, then we would absolutely have their back,” Spafford said.

Image: Pillars of Eternity 2

Pillars of Eternity and Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian said it has an internal social media policy page that’s sent out to the whole company at a “regular cadence”. It requests that employees do things such as stipulating that opinions from personal accounts are their own, but also asks that they keep in mind that what they’re saying can still represent the company.

“We encourage our employees to interact with our community as often as they feel comfortable with, and that if they don’t know how they should respond, or if they should, they can reach out to our PR/Community team for help,” PR manager Mikey Dowling said in an email.

He also noted that it’s a “constant area of growth” for the studio, and guidelines are ever-evolving in the wake of things such as the ArenaNet incident.

When it comes to harassment, Obsidian has no absolute series of guidelines and instead handles things on a case-by-case basis.

“It would come down to the circumstance and how we can help our employees through it,” said Dowling. “Community is very important to us, but we wouldn’t have the community that we have without the incredible employees we have here.”

Facepunch Studios, creator of Garry’s Mod and Rust, is about as hands-off as can be when it comes to employees using social media. They can’t talk about projects that are still under wraps, but otherwise, they’re free to say whatever’s on their minds.

And while the studio hasn’t had to mitigate any incidents that studio founder Garry Newman characterises as “crossing the line”, he says he’d have employees’ backs if it came to that.

“The people who play our games already think they have to power to decide who we should and shouldn’t fire,” he said. “If you give in to that, you’re just encouraging it.”


Comments

    After reading the comments on the previous article here, is this a surprise to anyone?

    Ain't nothing gonna get in the way of entitled middle class males. Let's gin up a petition and get some women fired for talking back!

      It's almost as if you haven't actually read the initial tweets and Price's response which is what caused this ruckus.

      Show me where Deroir stepped over the line, show me where he attacked her, show me where he even once insinuated that the reason she supposedly "sucks" at her job is because she is a woman.

      And then tell me how her response(s) were in any way warranted or called for, especially when representing ArenaNet on a public forum.

      I hope you can hear the my eye rolling from the echo chamber you obviously live in

        Can you tell me where you work? Because I'll come in on Monday, stand over you, and loudly and slowly tell you how to do your job.

        And when I've done it to you a hundred times, you might begin to understand what is going on here - and that's not even bringing gender into it.

        And on the topic of gender - I know this is hard for you to understand, since it has never happened to you and you demonstrate a lack of perception for the feelings of others, but women regularly have men 'mansplain' things to them based purely on their gender.

        Again, when something is done a few thousand times to you, don't be surprised when you react badly.

        Was Deroir's comment mansplaining? It certainly could have been, and he's sure as hell not going to admit it if it was. So neither you nor I can comment on that - but we certainly have enough information to say that yes, someone basically telling you how to do your job is annoying when it happens over and over.

          Deroir gave insight as a player that has spent many, many hours playing the game she wrote for and gave insight as a player, something Price may not have as much experience in.

          Once again, show me anywhere in Derior's response(s) that showed he was actually "mansplaining" anything, show me where he was "loudly and slowly" telling her how to do her job. Seriously, read the actual tweets.

          Once again, you seem to be basing everything you know about this on an article and not actually on the tweets in question.

          As for your last paragraph "Was Deroir's comment mansplaining?" you say that neither of us can comment on that. Read the tweets. It's quite obvious that it isn't.

            This guy flies off the handle on every article like this, screaming 'middle class male privilege'.

              Yeah, probably the most indoctrinated poster I've seen here. Everybody has a label, is assigned to some particular group and has multiple assumptions made about them. Pretty much every post is made in a topic based upon assumed views regarding socio-political matters.

              A cursory glance at their posting history is pretty hilarious. An in-depth look is a bit depressing actually.

                Yes, I've had ironically, some pretty presumptuous and in some ways intolerant replies from him.

                But, atleast his heart is in the right place. He is just very aggressive.

          'Can you tell me where you work? Because I'll come in on Monday, stand over you, and loudly and slowly tell you how to do your job.

          And when I've done it to you a hundred times, you might begin to understand what is going on here - and that's not even bringing gender into it.'

          Well I don't know about your experience with the work environment but working in the hotel industry, my company doesn't care how many people come at my telling me how to manage my hotel, I'll still be fired the moment I snap back. Price was actively engaging with the public while representing Anet.... In the real world no owner is going to idly sit by while one of their staff members continuously jeopardizes the companies image. She chose to light the match, and continue pouring gasoline on the resulting fire.

          And this has absolutely nothing to do with gender. The first person to even bring up the argument of gender was Price herself. She knew bringing up the fact she's a women would create the shitstorm this story has become, and all you apologists are falling for it hook line and sinker.

          Don't think so? Then why is no one defending Fries? He was fired for less then what Price is responsible for, but where's the countless articles and commentators defending him?

          Grow up. Price mouthed off and reprimanded for doing so. Stop defending bad behavior.

          So basically its now illegal to engage in conversation with women at all because anything we say will be classed as mansplaining?

          Seriously. You should look into the history of Deroir. He loved price as a dev. He repeatedly praised her in live streams. He was engaging in light conversation. She is in the wrong here. No one else. She brought this entirely on herself. She and the media purporting this falsehood is making the situation worse. Filling prices head with delusions of grandeur

          You really should look at the entire situation properly. And not just get the the one sided nonsense take from that joke of a journo who wrote the Polygon article. You have clue and your political ideals are clouding your view of reality.

            Kotaku actually do proper unbiased journalism? Once again they have jumped on the bandwagon. And they will do it again.

              Its the Kotaku US writers. They are polygon lite. The aussie writers we have here though are fantastic. They write great articles.

          In all fairness, there should be an expectation that high-profile jobs are a double-edged sword - greater exposure means greater positive and negative attention. Industries like game development or cinema or televison are entertainment based industries. Whether you are working in front of the camera or behind it, you attract an element of pseudo-celebrity. It is both the benefit and the cost of doing business. Obviously, a lot of game devs, artists, cinematographers, etc., do not expect to receive the same exposure as their projects. But they should. They may not want the attention their industry garners, but we are passed the point where ignorance is an acceptable rhetoric. Working in industries where the point is to attract attention means that you may attract attention. Accept it, regulate your visibility, get off public forms of social media if you really feel as though you can't handle it. But it's just the nature of the industry. What is more reasonable - expecting 1 person to regulate their behavior on social media, or expecting millions of fans to regulate all of their respective behaviors?
          And that is the difference between the situation Price is in and your average idiot on the street.

          I am a Brown/Muslim software developer working in the industry (not gaming industry though). I have had to face a lot of things in my career than spans over a decade. But I never loose my cool. You should always have a cool head. First, if someone berates your work based on any bias they have, barking back is not going to help. Secondly, I agree with many commenters, Deroir was not trying to be sexist nor do I consider his feedback (although not warranted) mansplaining. GuildWars is not the first game that players are passioante about and whenever a customer is passionate about a product, they tend to have unsolicited feedback. That holds true for games and any other product.

          Just imagine a scenario. You tweet a celebrity or call customer service... and in response they call you an ASSHAT. What do you think will happen?

        While his thoughts were politely presented, I can see how it would have been perceived as condescending to someone who had worked in the industry for 10 years, and who has had to repeatedly put up with their competence being questioned due to their gender (even if this is not what Deroir was intending to say).

        I'd liken it to me going to a mechanic and saying "I need to have my tires changed. Y'know, tires? The 4 round things on the car. They are rubber and filled with air and help the car roll. I think that would help my car run better."

          Now, imagine the mechanic responds with 'Uh huh', rolls his eyes and goes back to his job, choosing to do that job without responding, sure he eyerolls, but this is generally the more 'mature' way to respond, the online way would possibly be an emoticon. Acceptable to most people.

          Now, imagine that mechanic had said “Like, the next rando asshat who attempts to explain the concept of changing a tire to me — as if, you know, having worked in a garage for a fucking DECADE, I have never changed one before — is getting getting kicked out.”

          Then the mechanic turns around, after kicking out that customer, and says to the waiting room full of customers:

          "I’m not on the clock here. I’m not your emotional courtesan just because I’m a mechanic. Don’t expect me to pretend to like you here.”

          That's a shit way to treat your customers and isn't going to really inspire repeat business. Infact it's going to inspire a drop in business, noone will come back for repeat tire changing service and word will get around that the garage hires assholes.

          The best way to handle this would've been the mechanic walking in to their boss and saying "I'm tired of that douchebag customer who keeps harassing me about their tires" and explain the situation, just as she could've talked to her boss about the fact she's getting bombarded with idiots like that. Sure it's on twitter, but it's her choice to go on there and engage in a professional manner like that. She never had to.

            Go back to change one thing and, bam.. moderation.

            Last edited 14/07/18 2:09 pm

              Any edit is instant moderation, don't bother. Just prepare for despair as you press submit and realise that you had a brain fart halfway through typing your comment, but you have no way of fixing it in a timely manner.

                That's.. annoying. I can understand if the comment had replies to it, so editing would maybe make nonsense out of those replies. There should be an 'edit window'. Thanks for clearing that up, I've always wondered if it was just me!

                Yep. Do what I do, copy the old comment, edit and insert a . instead. It goes to moderation. Then 'reply' again to the original, paste your comment and await them deleting your old comment.

              It's why I no longer edit posts if I make a typo or miss something. Just add another post with the correction.

              I can understand requiring moderation if your post has responses, but if it's done immediately it shouldn't need it. Maybe they can tweak the forum software so there's a 2 minute delay on the moderation requirement. That way if a poster messes something up they can edit it instantly and not need to wait on a moderator to check it.

            [Sorry got stuck in a moderation loop after editing]

            Wow, you.. really took that analogy and ran with it haha. If we're going to persist with it, I'd change you scenario to be me approaching my mechanic at a bar and telling them about my tires. Then yeah, I'd probably expect some blowback. But I think we've run with that analogy as far as it will go.

            You seem to be taking my comments as saying she was totally in the right and it was a professional way for her to act. I don't necessarily think that. I just can understand why she acted that way and I think the politics of what you can and can't say in your own personal space are a bit murky, which is what that article is about – developers reconsidering their social media policies. She was not on the clock, she was not functioning as an official spokesperson for the company, this was on her own personal Twitter where she states that she won't take shit right there in her bio. Private vs. personal vs. public vs. professional is a concept that is still finding its feet in the online world.

            But my views on what is justified in a personal capacity will differ from yours, which will differ from a company like ArenaNet. I think you are right in saying it would have been the professional thing to go through company support channels to get advice how to deal with this, like Obsidian suggest.

              No no, all I did was take her exact twitter comments and alter them slightly with the word mechanic, then inject how one would be expected to act in a workplace :) I've been a manager a few times and had to enforce workplace expectations with employees (including once where, believe it or not, Myspace got involved... yes people, laugh, myspace lol).

                That was my point, that it wasn't her workplace. She wasn't tweeting from the ArenaNet account. But yeah, I think that's a difference in opinion that will stay different. All good.

                Also, lol Myspace.

                  The major issue there comes with the fact she was discussing in a professional manner a product. I do understand she was on her private account, but there were workplace agreements in place regarding social media usage which I guarantee she would've signed upon employment. In that case, for her, this is the equivalent of not reading a contract before complaining about it unfortunately :\

                  Slight adjustment to your reply. You're right, it wasn't the mechanic in his place of work, but it was the equivalent of the mechanic in a bar, in his uniform, stood up on the table, and loudly talking about his job out loud for everyone in the venue to hear. And then getting indignant and incendiary when someone speaks back to him. Social media posts are not a private conversation between two friends at a bar either, that's what private messages and DMs are.

              Twitter is an open forum though, that's it's exact function. It is not private, and people shouldn't pretend it is.

              She has her job role and company she works for in her bio. She was talking about things she does for a living in a public setting, shortly after completing an AMA. Someone, who was absolutely a huge fan of hers wants to have a discussion with her, on the public forum where she's currently publicly speaking.
              She may have been off the clock, but she was functioning with her work hat on.

                That's what I mean by private vs. personal vs. professional. That's just my view on the subject: It was an unprofessional act but I don't think she deserved to be fired for it. ArenaNet obviously did, so they did. That's not so much my problem with the situation. It's how they handled the firing and the reaction afterward that concerns me.

                  But thats not the end of it is it? It has evolved beyond any simple professional VS private VS public debate. Everyone seems to be making this into a gender issue, including kotaku. If only the situation ended exactly where your conversation with Weresmurf ended...it being an employee VS employer VS customer thing, instead of this shit show politicised crap it's become.

              I think though, that this highlights the requirement for these companies (all companies really) to establish rules on behaviour. I remember when I was working for the Government 15, maybe even 20 years ago there were rules put in place by the Media Branch about what employees could and couldn't say, and when we needed to refer media (or the public in general) back to a specific contact.

              Like you, I can understand her frustration and the need to vent, but at the same time it really seems like an overreaction. And if the company has a policy about being polite to customers and not acting in a way that might reflect badly on the company (as many do) then it's understandable she got in trouble.

              That said, I feel like it's also an overreaction to fire her. It seems like a kneejerk reaction. I can't help but think it'd have been better to have an internal reprimand and be put on notice about behaviour rather than fired as the first recourse.

                I think it was an overreaction, but having read other articles, she just keep digging a hole for herself.

                The facts are a big streamer for the game sent a pretty polite tweet, largely agreeing with things she had said, except stating one minor area he disagreed and why.

                She perceived some form of sexism, and responded in an aggressive manner. She then escalated.

                The guy who originally sent the tweet essentially went, 'ahh... didn't mean to cause any trouble. Sorry'. And left it at that, while she kept going.

                Now, i don't think it's right for them to have fired her, but essentially, if I shot off an email or tweet, in the context of a work related question, with where I worked, in the manner she did, I would probably be walking into a very stern conversation the next day with my bosses. I might get fired.

                She should have at the very start, instead of calling people 'rando asshats' just said, I misinterpreted and perceived a sexist comment. If that wasn't your intent, I am sorry.
                The whole thing would have been a non issue.

                As much as articles on Polygon have tried to paint it as a rabid mob of sexists trying to burn the witch, i think it's closer to a lot of fans thinking it was fucked up for one of Arena Nets employees to respond to a pretty big community personality in such a poor manner.

                The larger problem that now exists, is the actual sexists from gamergate and various other trolls are all going to use this to begin another ongoing campaign of actual harassment.

          I see where you are coming from, but after going through the tweets. I feel it's more of a:

          "I had to replace your alternator because due to the corrosion on it, it wasn't able to charge the battery as efficiently, so when leaving it overnight, you would have a dead battery which leads to you not being able to turn your car on"
          "Oh, i thought I bought a dodgey battery after replacing the previous one because it had died"

            Maybe you're right. My analogy was so simple because I know nothing about cars. Like, not even enough to know if your analogy is more correct... or what it's implying about the situation. Awkward.

              neither do I... This is a true story hahaha

          does not matter if that mechanic does not like it. If that mechanic turned around and said to that customer "your a fucking moron. EAD". They should be rightfully fired. And if they then go and say "I WAS ONLY FIRED BECAUSE IM A (insert gender here)" then they should be mocked and ridiculed.

        This! One thing that's notable in articles defending Price is that the initial exchange is entirely missing, because nobody who reads that exchange in its entirety is going to think well of Price afterwards.

        There are many instances of harassment and 'mansplaining' and whathaveyou, but this is clearly not an example of that. Anybody in doubt over that *read the initial exchange*.

          Oh but they cant include that exchange. Nor do they ever include the live stream footage of him praising price and saying how great she is on reddit answering questions. Because such evidence undermines their arguments which have no basis in reality.

      Getting a strong deja vu feeling of 2014.

      A caustic core group of games enthusiasts band together to hector women out of the industry; a corona sympathetic to the prime message rationalises it with a number of subsidiary messages; the industry responds by explicitly stating or implementing policies to safeguard their employees against abuse; the core and the corona spin a new message about the positive change they've brought to the industry as a front while they continue to pursue their original goal.

      The next step will be the ironic, but actually self-serious, claim that this was always about "ethics in social media".

      Not all that much has changed over the years.

    This is silly, everyone who follows the discussion understands why they were fired. It might be too much? Maybe, but we don't know the entire story on how she behaved as a employee. Also, it's worth pointing out she was quite toxic herself when commenting (TB dead for example).
    This applies to any work environment, don't be a a**hole and you won't get fired.
    Also, if you don't like getting bashed, don't talk about your work in a public forum, there are better places for it.

    Look, we understand there is an issue in the gaming industry with regard to how women are treated, that's not in dispute; but this entire show around the initial reply tweet, and subsequent reply from Price, are not that.

    This wasn't an attack on gender, this wasn't some drivel nor offensive tirade. It was an observation of whether the way the game is set up to function at it's core, is an unfortunate block that prevents true character role-playing.

    This was an opportunity for Price to offer insight into the process of creating dialog to convey the illusion of choice, the struggles with maintaining a linear story whilst offering up some varied character development. Deroir's tweet was nothing but respectful, calm and well worded (to say nothing of the entire lack of anything remotely related to gender).

    The reply to which was tantamount to 'Oi fuck you cunt, just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I don't know how to do my job', and this was incidentally all that games media took away from it; 'He's being sexist, let's get him'.

    Seemingly nobody bothered to read the initial tweet, nobody offered up context, not one person with common sense other than the CEO of ArenaNet behaved in an impartial way with regard to this whole situation and the narrative created to drive this engine is frankly sickening.

    There are legitimate issues in the games industry, many of them gender related. Businesses where sexual harassment is common practice, issues around maternity leave where women need to be worried about whether they have a job when they get back, hell, the simply task of having a company profile pic as a woman in games development would be a battle in and of itself.

    This drama being perpetuated is not any of those things. This is a company firing an employee who first called the death of total biscuit a joyous occasion not days after he passed away, then ripped into a reputable player of the game for wanting to further conversation in a respectful way all while wearing the company name publicly.

      If the issue isn't gendered, then how come all the criticism and harassment Price has since faced on social media is almost exclusively from men and not women?

      Male developers have been assholes to players before, and nobody said shit about it.

        You mean like Phil Fish?

          Point to me the outcome from Fish's comments that saw gamers mobilising to get other male developers fired.

            They couldn't get him fired also the above post was about Price; we have already been over in the last article about how the witch hunt and accompanying assholes are horrendous. However thank you for straw manning me, I was worried someone was going to actually not move the goalposts.

              Ok fair, you were replying to the second bit of mortok's comment, while I was taking the comment about "all the criticism and harassment Price has since faced on social media is almost exclusively from men and not women" into account also and applying it to the topic of this article which is the larger industry reaction. No need to get sarcastic.

                It's that key word there in your comment -"SINCE". This incident wasn't about sexism til Price made it one, then yes all the horrible assholes came out of the woodwork. But the initial comment that triggered her wasn't and everyone supporting her is overlooking this fact and doing the causes they believe in a massive disservice.

                  Come on... we all knew those women bashing pricks were always going to hit her enmasse with a deluge bullshit irrespective of what the initial remarks were about. This is what they do. This is all they do. Like seagulls to a chip.

        Trolls are going to troll, anonymity will do that. I wish they'd stop, but we can't look at that minority of people who just want to kick up a stink and go "see, look how right she is".
        And, there really are quite a few women as well replying in her tweets that she isn't representing them well and should think about what she's doing.

        Further, the Fries, who backed her up while saying it was definitely gendered and he wouldn't get that sort of questioning is clearly forgetting how frequently his own work gets questioned on the guild wars forums.

        What few instances of male developers being kind of dicks to players I can think of have either been a)in charge of the company, and frankly who's going to fire them, or b) in such a position of reknown where their behaviour is considered a quirk.
        She was neither of these things. An average person isn't going to get away with the degree of things one of those types of people would. This might not be fair, but it's fairly consistent, and not really about gender.

        Because this is an area where objectively vile gamergate slimebags will always jump in, and the fact that she's absolutely in the wrong (read the blasted initial exchange) and claiming it to be a feminism issue is just gravy to that sort of person.

        But facts are facts. And just because low scum are attacking someone doesn't make them righteous.

        The issue has been grabbed onto by sexists since to initiate a campaign of harassment. The initial tweets from Deroir, were in no way sexist.

        Because she threw out the bait of "this is only happening to me because I'm a woman". While forgetting a male collegue of hers was salso fired. This bait attracted the trolls. sites like polygon have also decided to push the false narrative ativ of it being a gender issue. If you took a proper non biased look at the situation you would see this issue has nothing to do with gender. And everything to do with a Dev being an arsehole to a community member for daring to ask a polite question. Your claim about male devs is blatently false and easily proven wrong.

      Regardless of whether you think Price's response was justified (more on that in a sec) you can't deny that the reaction has been a very targeted, gendered attack against women in the industry. Deroir's comments might have been intended in good nature, but the outcome has stoked the always simmering entitlement of a section of the male gamer demographic:

      Reddit proved we can get bitches fired, isn’t there a female that posts here? Let’s get her fired, it’ll be awesome, we have the power to do it.

      Tell me that's not a gendered attack. Even if you feel that Price was entirely in the wrong, at least acknowledge the hatred being projected onto other women in the game development world.

      As to whether Price was justified? I feel like Deroir's comments were made with good intentions, but his insistence on explaining very simple narrative concepts to a narrative designer of 10 years could be seen as pretty patronising. It's a common thread, and not just in the gaming world, for men to insist on explaining concepts to women that the women are clearly over-qualified to have to listen to and goddam it must be frustrating. This is a previous response from the July 7 Kotaku article:

      By the time that guy came along, I was so tired of having random people explain my job to me in company spaces where I had to just smile and nod that it was like, 'No. Not here. Not in my space.

      This indicates that he was the straw that broke the back and maybe it wasn't the best way to handle the situation but, you know what, I can understand why she'd react that way.

        Unfortunately it doesn't matter if you or I can understand why she would react, the fact is she's a professional and representative of a company. The moment she denigrates the user base, and in this case it's highly apparent she should've taken the high road, after all, people on the internet are *going* to question you regardless of gender if you discuss your profession. The moment she crossed the line, she set herself up for termination, as she represents a company professionally and her unprofessional behaviour warranted that. The other guy, sure one could call him a douche, but she was representing a company, that's a flat out fact, and her behaviour, if it were in say, a store, from a male or female, would warrant immediate dismissal regardless of gender.

          Yeah, I'm not saying ArenaNet should have necessarily just let it slide, if that's not in line with their social media policy. But immediate firing of Price and her colleague? I don't think it was extreme enough to warrant that.

          However, even if you think it was justified, ArenaNet's mishandling of the situation was staggering. The seven other developers that provided comment for this article agree, also. While she might have set herself up for termination, she definitely did not set herself up for the wave of gross sexist pitchforking that followed. ArenaNet wilfully opened Price up to harassment by calling it an "attack on the community", which it clearly wasn't. Consequently, that little bit of hyperbole gave license to the men who don't like the idea of women being involved in video game development to step up their tirade against women in the industry.

          (Please don't take this as a straw man, that second paragraph is something that I forgot to mention in my first reply)

            No it's a fair comment but a question arises of 'how many is a community'. We've had people who insult one gay person, only to be told they've 'insulted the whole LGBT community', they've 'insulted an (insert culture) person' only to be told they've 'insulted the whole community'. I could go into why this is particularly stupid and a form of discrimination (the idea of why one person represents a whole community/culture) but that's for another day...

            HOWEVER, when she makes a comment like that as a representative of a company, she 'visually' is the mouthpiece of the company especially on a giant platform such as the old rancid Twitter, whether she realises it or not. I'm a teacher myself, and I'm *very* careful in public now since being taken on in employment as I'm aware in my community, people now see me as a 'mouthpiece' for my school if I talk education or the way I act in public.

            In terms of her firing, she breached their policies and was let go, it might seem harsh but if it's in line with their performance agreements, then she's up shit creek, just as the other guy is. I don't think this case is a particularly great one for people to be championing personally, I think she did the wrong thing, the guy talking to her was probably a bit condescending and she overreacted drastically.

            In future I hope she learns from it. In reference to reddit or whoever is mounting those campaigns, personally I don't care, they're just all hot air, and those who get wound up about yet another useless Reddit demand of 'firing someone' are being sidetracked needlessly.

              In terms of your view that the firing campaigns are all hot air, you only need to read the quotes in the article to see their anything but:

              For a brief period of time, the developer said, her CEO was ready to tell her boss to fire her. Then, another employee realised something was amiss with the letters.

              And even if they're ineffectual, like the one above, the hot air is still incredibly upsetting to women in the industry and makes them feel further marginalised. Sure, you might not lose your job but it's just one in a series of endless reminders that you're still an other in the industry.

              Just quickly in relation to "targeting the community": ArenaNet were implying that she was attacking the gamer community. The only comment she made was about him being a condescending man. Now, if anyone wants to say she's attacking the male community, well.. yeah, I don't see much traction in that argument because we as men (or male gamers) are doing pretty okay. Attacks on communities are usually defined by someone attacking a specific characteristic of that community. If you insult a gay person for being gay, yes I'd say that's an attack on the whole gay community.

                That's more than a fair view. Btw just wanted to say thanks for the mature, well thought out discourse. :)

                  @mogwai This is what Derior was expecting, evidenced from his initial surprise (and response) at Price's comment to him. This is pretty much how any discussion should be handled, regardless of ones views.

            You said " she did not set herself up for gross seis pitchfork in"...actually, she totally did, in her tweet saying "Today in being a female game dev: ‘Allow me—a person who does not work with you—explain to you how you do your job". Although I do not condone the attacks that followed, she played the sexism card first, and that was utterly dissapointing. It doesn't help progress the real sexist issues around game development. Sigh

            Comparing a corporate entity like ArenaNet to these 2-bit indie studios is somewhat ridiculous. Their wishy-thinking isn't how the world works.

            Wait until any of these little development houses have shareholders.. there will be increased corporate oversight.

        I'm with you on the backlash from other parties, had she reacted that way to one of the posts from outside the bubble then I'd fall on her side of the fence as the vitriol after the fact has been overwhelming and definitely constitutes our unjustified gendered attack.

        The part of this whole thing I'm taking issue with is that Deroir is painted as the bad guy, where in all of this, he has been the most polite about the whole thing. He tried to open communication, was shot down, then stepped back and said something to the effect of 'I can see this isn't likely to go anywhere productive, let's just drop it'.

        All subsequent parties harassing Price over her comments should be held to account, the same way Price herself was within the scope of her being an employee of a company. It doesn't fall to societal judgement to decide whether she should be fired or not.

        The people baying for blood and explosion of newly reported cases such as the 'Reddit proved we can get bitches fired', is one of the issues that should definitely be getting some focus but media seem incapable of moving beyond the initial back and forth.

        This should definitely extend beyond the games industry if we're being honest, how you represent yourself online is these days just as important as your manners when eating out, how courteous you are on the road and so on.

          I really wish she had replied with something like "Dude, I appreciate your suggestions, but I've been doing this for a long time now so you don't need to explain the simple concepts to me". Then maybe he would have seen that, while he was being very courteous, his presumption of her not having considered what he was talking about was a little condescending. I don't believe it was intended, I think he was trying to engage constructively, and he handled it well when she had a go at him.

          But yes, I 100% agree that the drama we should be focussing on is not her reply, or even the fact that she was fired for talking down to a fan. It's the problematic way in which her firing was announced and the subsequent backlash that is the important thing here. And yes, this sort of culture extends beyond the gaming industry for sure.

      Have to agree. I worst thing for me is that everyone HAS read the tweets and these game journalists have chosen to drive this particular narrative/agenda and align with Price anyway. They have chosen this battleground to fight for gender inequality, discrimination and against toxicity. They have chosen poorly. Fighting the good fight off the back of this event will only damage the cause mainly due to how unwarranted the criticism of Deroir is and how deserving of criticism Price is while she still portrays herself as the victim and refuses to admit fault. If it really was a “straw that broke the camels back” moment then wouldn’t she admit some fault after the fact and after she had calmed down? We are still waiting.....

        It's extremely disheartening.

        Quite literally fake news.

        Journalists like Greyson are why the world now has a President Trump.

      To be fair to the above article, while the original Price firing may be ok, it's subsequent use as "precedent" to spark harassment of other women is definitely not ok. And the article is pointing out that it's creating a shit storm.

    So is the industry just going to let devs be rude to their customer bases now? What a bright shining future.

    And if you want to say "but the customers are often shitty to developers!" I will point you to the often-ignored-in-discussions-about-this-topic very polite comments that started this shitshow.

      It's unfortunate, but we are seeing this with any of the extremes of fandom now.

      The solution is to not be easily contactable by your customers, and only engage with them in ways you can control.

      That results in the fandom screaming that they don't have dialogue with the creators, but honestly, who care, creators of a product shouldn't indulge these brats.

      Look at Star Wars. Fuck dealing with those people.

      Indie devs without shareholders.

      Lol... We're not about to see Blizzard tell their developers it's ok to badmouth core customers.

    It actually seems amazing that Developers/Employees of gaming studios are allowed to represent their employer on their own personal social media accounts. I would say that this is the exception rather than the norm in any industry.

    My own employer has a strict social media policy, where by breaking that policy is grounds for termination. If I spoke to a customer in the same was as Jessica did, I would have also been told to clear my desk.

      This is the part that surprises me the most too. Both Price and Fries both said how this was their private space, while both stating in their bios how they worked for GW2, and the current active discussion was about their work.

      If a customer wanted to message me about my work, and then I proceeded to publicly berate them, and carry on about anyone else being asshats and the like, I'd be terminated as well. I would imagine this should be true for any moderately sized company, berating a customer publically while representing your company (which you are doing regardless of being 'off the clock' if you're going to put your company in your bio and talk work) is really crazy.

      That's the world of gaming, though: high-profile developers are often drawcards for PR, whether its through an AMA or interviews or just general community outreach. Devs have brands of their own, in a lot of ways, and the publicity they bring and their personal following can be beneficial. So a lot of studios tacitly encourage it, and it's why the world of gaming has a vastly different approach to social media to, say, any corporate job. A lot of people have brought up how they'd be fired immediately - retail's been used as an example - but it's important to note that the industries aren't identical in that way.

        I reckon they still have media policies, and if they don't then they damned well should. And the policies should be communicated to their staff. If not then a fired staffer could have grounds for unfair dismissal claims.

          Might not even have that, if it's an at-will contract.

            Well I guess that's a different issue, and if you're willing to sign up on a contract where you can be fired on whim I think that's your own problem.

            Side note: I didn't think even an at-will contract could trump unfair dismissal laws? Maybe I'm thinking Australian law though.

              Yeah, we're not talking Australian law here (but most studios aren't in Australia).

        I remember an article in general news websites like the age where a PR person wrote a horrible joke on her personal twitter for all to see. She was fired.
        She was on her personal twitter, not her PR account for the company.

        Same with my job, if I make a public comment on my Facebook that is contrary to company values I can get fired.

        I don't see how this is mind blowing at all.

      I like how price proclaimed her twitter is private. Yet she lists her no previous job and position at ArenaNet, And her twitter history shows her answering questions related to the game. She is a massive hypocrite.

        Yeah i don't know why you've been down voted.
        With no bias this is just fact.

        If it was personal twitter with personal views then you'd just not answer questions about work and simply ignore whoever isn't your friend or colleague.

    “The fact that the community’s anger was escalating on July 5 could make it look like our action was a response to the community’s anger,” he said. However, the studio was closed on July 4, the day Price called out Deroir. “That wasn’t the case,” he continued. “We took action as soon as we practicably could.”

    I think your skipping over this part of the article where Kotaku reporters ensured there was balance highlighting the other side of the argument.

    I count at least 5 differing perspectives that Kotaku quoted in the article. That's called reporting.

    If you don't like what is being conveyed, that's understandable. Just think its a bit rich to ignore all the hard work put into this article and just dismissing it all as "bias" because you don't like what the reporting implicates.

    Last edited 14/07/18 12:00 pm

    Mountain out of a molehill. There is no catastrophe here, two people got fired for legitimate reasons and every other employee who behaves according to their employers standards will be fine.

      Did you read the article beyond the first few paragraphs? This article primarily addresses the wider industry consequences and reaction to Price's firing. Very much not a molehill. In fact, the article doesn't really cast any aspersions either way about whether her firing was justified, only how it was done.

        Yup I also read the headline.

        The industry reaffirms it'll stand by it's employees (and not with the mob) if they don't cross the lines they've drawn. Some with evolving policy, and some case by case. Molehill.

        There is no wider implications. There are only the made up ones being pushed by journos like Colin Campbell over at polygon. They arent attempting at all to report the facts. They are trying to push an agenda. Desperately trying to hold onto GG to keep themselves relevant.

          There is no wider implication here

          You know, except for when the backlash was joined by the MRAs and GG fanbois, and all the other bottomfeeders who jumped onto this shitfight bandwagon simply because she IS a woman, irrespective of the very specific circumstances that started this mess. But, whatevs...

            Those bottom feeders will join anything. And thee backlash was entirely the fault of price and the media pushing her false one sided narrative. Price made her bed. Now she has to sleep in it. You don't poke the hornet's nest and then complain about getting stung.

            Oh and please don't act likw the majority of the backlash is the types you mentioned.they are a small minority. Most people are legitimately and respectfully outraged at boht her continuous idiotic comments and the media's decision to present a one sided false narrative completely ignoring the fact that price is in the wrong.

    Wow, Nathan. I actually can’t believe you’re at it again. Your first paragraph alone is misleading to the point it could be considered a lie. Do you really believe that she “called out” Deroir? I feel like I’m actually going crazy as facts and hard evidence don’t seem to mean anything when you have an agenda to push. The way that you and other media outlets like The Verge, RockPaperShotgun, Polygon, PC Gamer etc. have “covered” this story is beyond shameful. Feel free to present your opinion but the way you and others present their respective articles is not as an opinion piece, it is presented as fact and a means to sway public opinion for those unfamiliar. By supporting Price you are actually supporting the very thing you claim to be against : online toxicity and harassment. This whole saga has been a big eye opener in regards to game “journalism” as a whole. I am not the only one that thinks this way as anyone with a shred of critical thinking, logic, common sense or ability to read knows that Price was clearly in the wrong and insigated the whole thing.

      So I mentioned the media surrounding this and got my comments removed despite not even calling out authors. Why do I get my comments removed but this one is left up?

        Worry not, citizen.

        I'm sure there was a very valid, totally not made-up-on-the-spot, justification on how you were violating the posting guidelines.

        For what it's worth, all the deleted comments made the first comment of the article one complaining about the race/sex of all the commentors, in turn making that comment look even more insane than usual.

        Hey Nicktofficial and I (I think it was Nick?) made comments initially and had them both removed within 5 minutes lol. Been happening a lot lately!

          You think he'd be used to having his BS removed almost instantly by now, given his penchant for shitposting...

      What I find amusing is I found out about the whole thing originally on IGN, which was a balanced article, included all the original tweets. (and quoted the swifty deleted tweets of the second employee)

      When IGN is the more objective gaming journalism site, you know theres something wrong.

        It's insane isn't it. After all these years, I find I'm spending more time on IGN because of superior journalism.

        The world has gone mad.

    As an aside, and maybe to help some of the discussion, this has been floating around my feed a lot: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1017050472681598978.html (it's a more readable version of a *very* long thread). There's the original tweets there, but also other ones that people are wilfully skipping over (from various parties).

    Interested to know people's thoughts after reading through all of that.

      Also, I'd just like to thank people in advance for trying to keep discussion constructive as possible. And to clear something up: if you edit a post and it doesn't appear, your account doesn't get put into the moderation queue (just that post). Just an FYI.

        I made a comment about moderation somewhere above in the thread, but this looks like a good place to repeat it. How about looking at modifying the moderation rules. Give a poster a small window where they can edit their post without it sparking moderation. Something short, like two minutes. That'll allow for people to correct a typo but still stop people posting something contentious and then editing it and claiming "they never wrote that".

          I'll talk to the dev team and see what's doable and what's not. No promises though: a couple of the team are away for most of this month, so any features or non-critical fixes (critical being that weird bug the other day where half the posts were all cut off on the front page, site being down, CMS nightmares etc.) will take some time.

            Thanks. It's pretty frustrating when you accidentally type "can" instead of "can't" and know that if you edit it the post will go into moderation. :)

            Good to hear the dev team is looking into it alex. Thanks for the update :)

      Mental gymnastics.
      It was frustrating to read the author trying to twist this in a direction it just doesnt go.

      Unfortunately, I feel that Teasdale's account of events assumes worst faith on Deroir's part and best faith on Price's part. That's his choice of interpretation of course, but it shouldn't be presented as though it were an objective recounting of events. From early in his piece, he paraphrases Deroir's tweets as "It's actually not that hard, just do this", which is an interpretation that relies on assumption of intent rather than the actual content of what Deroir said. At no point did Deroir comment at all on how easy or difficult it would be, nor did he explain how branching dialogue works - he simply made the case that using branching dialogue may lead to players being more invested in their characters.

        Agreed. Also the part where he says that he'd have called Deroir a fuckwit too is part of the problem with the thought stream. You just can't call customers fuckwits. You can think it, and I'm sure everyone in retail/service industries do, but you can't say it.

        Imagine what would happen if you were going through a checkout getting your groceries and the attendent called you that? It's not particularly different.

        It's certainly an interpretation that heavily favors one side of the discussion.

      Holy crap that's an unpleasant read. Not just the original twitter exchange, the opinion piece you link is ugly too.

      After reading all that...I don't agree at all. Not everyone on the internet is a professional writer. You can't take a badly worded tweet and just assume negative intent. Yes some people are terrible and write in bad faith, but assuming that as the default prevents rational discussion.

      Does Derior have any history of the described behaviour? It's a hell of an assumption to make out of the blue.

      I think a lot of this comes from a failure to separate the deplorables from the moderates. Yes there are terrible people online that need to be called out. But deplorables trying to appear moderate doesn't give a licence to throw actual moderates under the bus.

      It would be nice if news sites could briefly present the moderate view in these cases as well as the extremes...the third side. Some of those device responses looked like they had only heard the controversy in passing and overreacted.

      Just looked at how the Mechwarrior Online devs handled an ongoing barrage of criticism. How would that have been reported if they were female?

        Actually, Deroir's history is that he thinks Jess is fantastic, idolized her heavily before this event (and mentioned in several videos before), and didn't want any part in the fallout.
        So, I'd lean towards perhaps not well written, but the intent was in a good place.

          Thanks. Would be nice if all the journalists had reported that!

      I'm...intrigued by that write up. I think it is one potential break-down of what happened (not dismissing or claiming 'Price is bad' version is correct.)

      But I saw a clip from Derior's livesteam the day before I think, where he lavishes praise upon Price. So I'm not sure who is the victim and who played the victim, but I believe that Derior didn't mean malice and Price likely had a 'straw that broke the camels back' moment. Also I liked TB so her tweets had already painted my opinion of her.

      Something that sorta bugged me from the start was actually Derior's suggesting of branching dialogue being 'better'. Sure, also more expensive and time-consuming to make. I thought it was similar to saying "If you had infinite time/money/man-power you should do X"

      im not shocked for one second that you have posted this and think its a smoking gun when its simply another person who is trying to defend the person who shouldnt be defended for her horrible behavior.
      Just like Nathan.

        No smoking gun. Just popping in a comment with another take so people can have a chat about it; it keeps coming across my feed, and I figured it'd be good to get another take from the people here. Sorry if you don't think that's not contributing to the discussion, though.

          its not that its not contributing to the discussion, its just flat out wrong.

      I'm glad you brought this up. Teasdale does an admirable job of deconstructing the whole and the individual of the initial exchanges that set this all off.

      His insights on the language that both parties use throughout, especially through the lens of showmanship, ought to be particularly helpful for people who misunderstood or overlooked these basic concepts. It's been astonishing to watch so many people refuse to consider the impact of intrusion, the role of a polite facade to carry a demeaning message, blatant passive aggression, or even that a streamer whose profession is to play to an audience would play to an audience to gain sympathy. Mind boggling.

      I empathise with Price and Fries because the circumstance of their dismissal is an abhorrent absurdity; I'm weary of the videogame industry and community relentlessly crushing incredibly talented people over an imagined vendetta. It's so terribly disgusting to see what the community has created a long time ago, and has within the last decade been facilitated and amplified by the development of social media, is a gamified meta wherein the erasure of someone as a human being is sought to enable the inflicting of maximum pain and grief upon a target.

      That's what the article brought to my mind: an appreciation for clarity and simplicity, and a heightened flash of the despondent tinnitus the industry and community have wrought.

        I've noticed you and I generally agree on social issues, although I may fall a little more moderate, so it's interesting to me that we seem to disagree on this particular issue. I'd love to have a more in-depth one-on-one discussion with you to delve into why that might be and how much common ground we share, but I can also feel myself wearying of the story as any subtlety and nuance it originally had is progressively stripped by ridiculously over the top reactions and 'us vs them' mentalities.

        Maybe down the line sometime once things have cooled down on the interwebs and nobody's bothering to read the comments here any more, I'll tag you and we can have that conversation.

    Im a old school single player gamer. Like, I owned an original Atari, old school. Im not a member of any online community gaming, nor of any forum. I rarely comment, Im part of no debates.
    I know my tiny comment here is likely to only be seen or responded to by the nasty troll side of the debate and I'm just pissing into the wind by commenting now. But i just have to.
    You see, people refer to the industry as growing up with their generation alot. But as sometime who started out waiting for games to load on cassette tapes and still plays as much 3 decade later, i really have grown up with gaming. Im the silent male majority and i am APPALLED by the behaviour of online hate groups that would deliberately attack anyone they think falls outside their teeny definition of maleness. Im not saying don't have an opinion on the specifics of this situation but don't send form letters pretending to represent a mob. Jesus Christ, how pathetic. You don't represent me.
    Gaming all the way from the amstrad 64 and atari, through the Sierra years, going through tapes and cartridges, two types of floppy disk, CDs, having been there to play in CGA, EGA and VGA, and being blown away by what the first sound cards could do, watching everything from the collapse of the first console industry, to the dominance of mobile gaming and played the OG versions of every classic the current audience ever hears about, and still be playing today, the last fucking thing on my mind about gaming today is some pretend fucking gender war.
    What is on my mind is how grateful i am that gaming is so amazing today.
    If anyone feeling under attack can see this comment i hope i can remind you that whatever sex, gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, creed you come from, i for one, welcome and celebrate you for your technical proficiency, your creativity, your hard work, and the risks you take as individuals and and businesses.
    Im not trying to be all polly anna about things, im just glad i get to play great video games.
    THANK YOU