A pair of Guild Wars 2 narrative designers have been fired by ArenaNet after a vitriolic blowup on Twitter.
The writers in question, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, recently engaged fans in debate after a fan responded to Price’s Twitter thread about the challenges of writing for a player character in an MMO.
The fan, a GW2 fan and YouTuber by the name of Deroir, replied to the thread, expressing slight disagreement and then proceeded to give his own opinion on the topic.
Really interesting thread to read! ?
However, allow me to disagree *slightly*. I dont believe the issue lies in the MMORPG genre itself (as your wording seemingly suggest). I believe the issue lies in the contraints of the Living Story's narrative design; (1 of 3)
— Deroir (@DeroirGaming) July 3, 2018
The next day, Price quoted the tweet, criticising the fan of mansplaining, implying it was just another day in the life of being a female game developer,
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." https://t.co/lmK0yJWqGB
— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) July 4, 2018
Price received both praise and criticism for her response to Deroir. One side of the argument felt that she was simply highlighting and combating the sexism prominent in the gaming industry, whereas the other side felt that she was being rude and disrespectful to a fan who was politely taking the opportunity to interact with an industry professional and sharing his own thoughts on the topic.
Peter Fries, fellow GW2 writer, chimed in on the criticism in a series of now-deleted tweets, stating that Price “never asked for his feedback” and that she was tweeting from her private Twitter account. He compared the exchange to a layman explaining observation techniques to an astronomer.
The exchange prompted Guild Wars 2 fans to create a Reddit thread sarcastically titled “Must be a thrill to work with this Dev.” Particular criticism was leveled at Price calling Deroir a “rando asshat” in another tweet that followed the initial encounter:
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 fucking DECADE, I have never heard of it–is getting instablocked. PSA.
— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) July 4, 2018
This led to many fans on Reddit, Twitter, and the ArenaNet forums demanding that she get fired for her tweets.
The situation later prompted Mike O’Brien, President and co-founder of ArenaNet, to write a post on the ArenaNet Forums, announcing Price and Fries’ firing.
Recently two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players. Their attacks on the community were unacceptable. As a result, they’re no longer with the company.
I want to be clear that the statements they made do not reflect the views of ArenaNet at all. As a company we always strive to have a collaborative relationship with the Guild Wars community. We value your input. We make this game for you.
The firing caused a mixture of reactions in the Twittersphere. Some condemned ArenaNet for their decision, like candidate for US House of Representatives Brianna Wu:
Comments like this are why game companies need to HAVE THEIR EMPLOYEES BACKS. Because this is a toxic field that is only getting more toxic.
The outcome of firing Jessica Price is every woman developer will have to stay silent when receiving sexist abuse. https://t.co/k9ByCQeDL3
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) July 6, 2018
And Tomb Raider reboot writer, Rhianna Pratchett:
A massive over reaction and setting a dangerous precedent.
— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) July 6, 2018
Others saw it as hypocrisy and a bad move:
So apparently a Guild Wars 2 producer was glad that TotalBiscuit died, and people were talking with her nicely about it being rude, and she decided to be rude back.
After she got fired, places like PC Gamer perpetuated it as a "harassment against women" thing.
So a writer on Guild Wars 2 was fired because when she complained about writing for MMOs and someone offered what they thought might solve the problem, she decided this person was only talking down to her about her job because he was a man and she was a women.
— Future Fossil (@Thought_Fiction) July 6, 2018
In a statement to Kotaku, Price said that “[t]he message is very clear, especially to women at the company: If Reddit wants you fired, we’ll fire you….Get out there and make sure the players have a good time. And make sure you smile while they hit you.”
What are your thoughts on the debacle? Do you think ArenaNet were right to fire Price and Fries? Or was the firing an overreaction? An unfair move? Let us know in the comments below!