A hot potato: Two members of video game developer ArenaNet have been fired following a heated exchange with a Guild Wars 2 streamer and YouTuber. Writers Jessica Price and Peter Fries both lost their jobs after a twitter discussion with Deroir, who is part of ArenaNet’s content creator program, turned ugly.
The situation began when narrative designer Price posted a 29-tweet thread on the difficulties of writing player characters in MMORPGs. Denmark-based Deroir commented on the issue, suggesting that branching dialogue options could help overcome the genre’s limitations.
“Really interesting thread to read! However, allow me to disagree slightly,” he wrote.
Price didn’t take Deroir’s comments well, responding with, “thanks for trying to tell me what we do internally, my dude.” She then retweeted his comment with the words: “today in being a female game dev.”
You getting mad at my obvious attempt at creating dialogue and discussion with you, instead of just replying that I am wrong or otherwise correct me in my false assumptions, is really just disheartening for me. You do you though. I'm sorry if it offended. I'll leave you to it.— Deroir (@DeroirGaming) 4 July 2018
Today in being a female game dev:— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) 4 July 2018
"Allow me--a person who does not work with you--explain to you how you do your job." https://t.co/lmK0yJWqGB
“Like, the next rando asshat who attempts to explain the concept of branching dialogue to me — as if, you know, having worked in game narrative for a f**king DECADE, I have never heard of it — is getting instablocked,” she added.
Since we've got a lot of hurt manfeels today, lemme make something clear: this is my feed. I'm not on the clock here. I'm not your emotional courtesan just because I'm a dev. Don't expect me to pretend to like you here.— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) 4 July 2018
Her response brought a backlash from the ArenaNet community, leading to co-worker Peter Fries defending her. “Here’s a bit of insight that I legitimately hope he reflects on: she never asked for his feedback,” he tweeted.
Deroir said was only looking for “dialogue and discussion,” and “meant no disrespect.” He also apologized for any offense his comment might have caused.
ArenaNet sided with the majority of Guild Wars players: it wasn’t happy with the way Price and Fries handled the situation and both were let go by the company. President Mike O’Brien said they “failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players,” and that “their attacks on the community were unacceptable.”
In an email to Kotaku, Price said “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.’”
“The message is very clear, especially to women at the company: if Reddit wants you fired, we’ll fire you,” she added. “Get out there and make sure the players have a good time. And make sure you smile while they hit you.”
Price said ArenaNet knew about her reputation for being outspoken on Twitter—she made controversial comments about the death of TotalBiscuit in May—but the company "reassured [her] that they 'admired [her] willingness to speak truth to power’” when hiring the writer.
The situation has split opinion. Price has been involved in plenty of controversy before, and some say she deserved to be fired for her rude response to genuine feedback from a partnered content creator, for which he apologized. The alternative argument is that this proves fans who shout loud enough have the power to fire devs using social media, and that ArenaNet appeased a small number of toxic community members.
Gamers treat developers’ personal twitter accounts like customer service hotlines. We’re expected to have no boundaries and to take in good faith and humor everything from ignorant complaints to accusations of incompetence. As soon as we say “no”, we‘re harassed out of a job.— Dr. Witch Hazel, PhD (@HazelMonforton) 6 July 2018