Former Guild Wars 2 developer criticizes ArenaNet boss for ‘solicitation of harassment’ and minimization of her work


Former ArenaNet developer Jessica Price has just made a string of new statements on Twitter discussing some of the issues surrounding the ongoing Guild Wars 2 PR nightmare, in which she and fellow developer Peter Fries were booted from ArenaNet following a Twitter altercation that mobilized a Reddit mob. Her primary complaint seems to be her allegation that ArenaNet – especially Mike O’Brien – “escalated” her (and Peter Fries’) firing, knowing what the mob’s response would be.

“The announcement was an escalation. The company could have chosen to say ‘their remarks don’t represent the company, we don’t agree with what they said, and they’re no longer with the company,'” she writes. “That’s not what they did. They framed an interaction on my personal social media in which I told a few individuals who (I thought) were being assholes that I wasn’t on the clock and wasn’t going to feign affection for people who are being assholes as ‘attacks on the community.'”

Consequently, she argues, O’Brien effectively provoked the mob, knowing what harassment would follow after she and Fries had been painted as “enemies of the community”; she calls it “active solicitation of harassment,” using the mob as punishment and then maintaining “silence in condemning the harassment,” which she says is “profoundly telling.”

Worth noting here is that Price appears to be acknowledging her original error in assuming that the initial comments from Deroir (and others) were intentionally malicious.

Price also criticizes O’Brien for what she characterizes as “[reducing her] contribution to GW2 to one scene from one episode,” which she believes is an example of “women’s work [being] erased or minimized.” She is here presumably responding to O’Brien’s statement to Polygon, which he ended by saying, “Whatever you thought of the tweets, Jessica and Peter were also part of the team that brought you the kidnapping scene in Episode 1, which was a wonderfully well-executed scene. That’s how I want to remember their time at ArenaNet.” So, she corrects the record:

“In terms of *influence*: the entire season is mine. I led the season story breaking meetings, I led the episode outlining meetings, and every line of dialogue went through me. Everything you’ve seen of the story so far this season is my work, and you’re going to be seeing my work in it for a long time. A bunch of the content you’ll be seeing is also work led by women: female team and game design leads, female writing leads, female cinematics leads. It’s the best content GW2 has produced. Women in this industry lead, and aren’t going anywhere.”

Her final takeaway? “If you’re a dev in this industry, take a very careful look at what ArenaNet has done, and get a guarantee from your management that they’re not going to do it to you.”

We reached out to ArenaNet in light of Price’s latest statements; ArenaNet has once again declined to comment. (We had previously inquired about the company’s social media policies.)

Other former ArenaNet developers, including former UX/web designer Kate Welch and former narrative designer Angel McCoy, have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the company handled the incident. McCoy suggested the “firings feel like a heavy-handed, knee-jerk reaction in an effort to assuage player discontent,” particularly Fries’, while Welch says the problem was nothing new for ArenaNet.

“This shitty executive approach to dev/player relations existed back then [when Welch worked there], too. And I’m so sad to see that it seems to have gotten worse,” Welch tweeted last week. “It’s ALMOST like there’s someone there who loves throwing people under the bus to get some fucking Reddit attention, and who has done it with alarming regularity.”

Perhaps the worst part is the potential impact to the game itself. “When Peter [Fries] left, he walked out with a lot of knowledge that they will miss,” McCoy concludes. “Ultimately, players will pay the price.”

We urge our commenters to read our now extensive previous coverage and 1600+ comments and consider whether you can lend a genuinely new perspective that everyone needs to read about. We recommend Tina’s thoughtful column for those seeking a nuanced summary and takeaway, our podcast for an audio recap, or even our original recap, which we have continued updating with the latest developments over the last week.

Update July 12: Game Workers Unite has now issued a statement similar to Price’s, denouncing ArenaNet for “inciting further harassment.”

Further reading on the incident and ensuing fallout:

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