Guild Wars 2 game designer Keaven Freeman announces his departure from ArenaNet

    
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In a world of human wreckage

It looks like ArenaNet is losing yet another member of its team. Guild Wars 2 game designer Keaven Freeman unveiled on his personal blog that he will be leaving the studio after nearly five years, which includes a long body of work on Living World updates from Jormag Rising to A Crack in the Ice.

“Working on Guild Wars 2 these last four (going on five) years has been an adventure full of friends, learning, growth, and professional development,” writes Freeman. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

As for where Freeman is going next, he confirmed that he will be joining the development team of Kingdom Maker, the mobile fantasy MMO that we touched on back in October. “I am very excited about this move and am really looking forward to getting to work with some amazing people on what promises to be a spectacular game,” he writes.

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Gfees

Buh-bye.

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Sleepy

I’d be looking to move on after five years anywhere too, just to keep myself fresh.

Yangers
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Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

Always good to read the fanfiction / theories when someone moves jobs.

Not everything is a conspiracy theory or harbinger of doom. jfc. People switch jobs all the time.

I remember when I left my initial job after school at the supermarket – the entire multi million dollar company nationwide shut down not long after. /s

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Thavie Hawke

Yeah, sure, it’s not a sign of anything! Just like dozens of veterans leaving wasn’t. Just look at the state of GW2 today, with only blurred to hell concept arts of who knows what on the horizon, sure, yet another person leaving is nothing to worry about!

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hardy83

All these developers moving to mobile games. It’s pretty clear where the money is being made now. It’s sad, since likst 99.999% of all mobile games are utter garbage that rake in millions.

Yangers
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Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

I agree with this. Lot of money washing around. Can’t blame devs for cashing in.

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SmiteDoctor

My first reaction was who dat, then it occured to me that there has been a gradual.drain of the brain trust at ANet dating back years so to look at this guy and call him a rando dev for only being there is disingenuous.

Remember ANet went through a director named Taylor with out telling any one who they were or even admitting that Mike Z had jumped ship for Amazon years ago. For all we know this guy was a very important Dev, and considering the years of veteran talent drain this guy was basically one of the seasoned devs for all intent and pusposes.

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SmiteDoctor

He was probably one of the replacements for one of the seasoned veterans that jumped ship years ago, which makes him a seasoned veteran him self now.

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Rob Hagaman

It’s kinda sad. I’ve been playing since Guild Wars, and was so excited when the game came out. When the Living World started, I loved the whole story of Scarlet, and the first expansion had so much promise…until Masteries came out. It was their cheap way of creating levels without creating levels. At least WoW and others were honest about it. They raised the level cap outright. Anet SAYS you don’t need it to play the game, but c’mon! a lot of the material is unfinishable without grinding mastery to get it. The worst thing they did, and what really turned me off, was adding mounts. For years, the thing that made GW and GW2 universes unique was the absence of mounts, and the grind/bling it takes to acquire them.

Anet became just another cookie-cutter MMO, and now, with the engine showing its age, the years between content updates, and the WoW levels of hit and miss with expansions, I only log on every once in a while to see how people are doing. It’s no wonder people are leaving left and right. I want nostalgia, I’ll go to GW.

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styopa

comment image

Sadly, I was just sort of getting back into GW2. The gap between “hey you have reached 80 and opened a mastery” and “now you’ve done enough of the focused content to have things like the bunny, manta, and unlimited gliding means you’re not constantly confronted by content walls insisting YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO DO THIS” really fscking sucks.

Now that I’ve ground my way past it I’m finding I enjoy the game much more. Sigh.

I can’t be the only person wondering if Cantha really is coming.

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styopa

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Actually, my youngest toon is 8 years 2 months according to gw2efficiency, IIRC I’d gotten the full map explore achieve somewhere in those first couple of months. Once I’d gotten them all to 80 done the dungeons, done the puzzles, etc I lost interest for years.

This game has grind literally every direction you turn, as once you hit 80 there’s only lateral accomplishments. (Hell, with the old talent system your character’s abilities were literally function-complete by lvl 30…the subsequent 50 levels were almost meaningless.)
Dungeon grind
PvP grind
achievement grind
legendary grind
WvW grind
mastery grind
raids grind
gold grind
fractal grind

Or let’s look at it vertically – for example HoT you can’t even finish the map completes without grinding a relatively scant variety of events for xp to grind up specific (otherwise useless except in those few maps) lore so you can survive some of the hero points or reach parts of the map. It’s not skill finishing those, it’s literally just time-served to open the gate.

Note that I didn’t say it was HARD. I’d actually prefer gradually-increasing-harder to the content walls they build, functionally just disallowing you from whole sections of maps )in PoF frex unless you have the manta). Doesn’t matter how GOOD you are, nope, just *poof* you die for going there not having ground out that specific mount.

And generally their gameloop is based around the accumulation of tokens for everything. Since all the people still playing are decked to the gills in optimized ascended gear, they don’t want this to be too easy for them, so since they can’t make it HARDER (because everyone’s capped at 80), they just drag it out longer and longer and longer. Do the “amazing thing” and you don’t get an amazing reward – you get piles of crap to salvage into components and a few tokens of whatever expansion you’re playing in.
Accumulate hundreds or thousands of the rare tokens? Then you might be able to make something that’s meaningfully relevant.
That’s pretty much the definition of grind.

Saying “it’s not as bad as current wow” is as persuasive as saying “well it’s not the bubonic plague”. I find Shadowlands even worse, so yeah, in that we agree.

You’ll also note that I said I was in fact getting back into the game enjoying it much more because I took the time to flesh out the mount masteries, etc.

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Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

In my experience, whether you find gw2 grindy or not depends on your play style. If you play the game for the game, its literally an MMO with 0 grind, if you play for the rewards it can feel grindy.

Thing is gw2 offers more XP than you need in all of its content releases. If you go out explore, experience the various dynamic events, you’ll get all the XP you want to unlock all the masteries before you need them. I remember back at launch people were complaining how they had to go to other starter maps to keep up with the leveling while I had the opposite problem in that by the time I was ready to move from a zone I would be 2 – 3 level over leveled. It was obvious what the difference was, after an event finishes I would stick and follow the npcs to see if the event would branch off and continue the story most players would rush off looking for the next event the moment they got their reward.

As for accumulating tokens for rewards, I think that’s an essential game design. If they’d use gold for all rewards problem is most Zones would die off the moment players go through them once, sticking with the zones that have the highest possible gold per hour. Like this if you want a reward that was included with release X than you have to play content in release X. Since its all cosmetic I think it works beautifully, If I am bored playing release X no problem I go work on the rewards I want from release Y. Unfortunately seems some players arent able to do that and If they want reward X they just cant stop working for it before they get. I can understand that feels grindy.

Filippo Chinello
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Filippo Chinello

is there any left to work on the development of the game? I see more departures from Anet every year than from my local airoport lol

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SmiteDoctor

Lmao are you kidding me, you’re really going to claim ANet is the whopping boy of MOP?

Do.you not read articles about Blizzard, or Daybreak, or Star Citizen?

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styopa

Read his other replies in this thread.
He’s frothing about something, god only knows what.
I like the imagined victimhood bit at the end.

Yangers
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Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

I think this is legitimate news, but the “reaction” to it seems fanciful in some cases.

One person moves jobs, which happens all the time (especially in this industry) and due to other previous events, these current events are then extrapolated out and theories are furnished that the “End is Near!”, etc, etc.

It’s probably something more mundane, like, he just has had enough of doing what he’s been doing for 5 years, their was a good new opportunity that probably paid well, or he got more responsibility or whatever.

And that’s it. It’s far less exciting I know.

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styopa

You understand that someone posting something you disagree with isn’t “lies” right?

You might have absorbed a little too much 2020 there.

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styopa

What proof? I see assertions. Those are different things.
You assert
1) MOP only seems to stalk ANet devs and announce their departures.
2) they suspiciously never made a post about all the former ANet devs who came back to the studio for End of Dragons

The first is provably false; depending on which way you mean it, there are a) plenty of posts about OTHER devs leaving OTHER companies (ie not just Anet devs) and b) posts about Anet alumni starting other studios (ie not just leaving).

If there are a lot of RECENT stories about people leaving ANet it’s because … there have been a lot of people leaving. Google it – the OVERWHELMING news about ArenaNet over the past 3 years is… people leaving or getting fired. MOP won’t disregard the entire news market to salve your feelings, I suspect.

The second is ALSO provably wrong. It literally took me 3 seconds to type Matthew Medina in the search box to get this link:

Matthew Medina returns to Guild Wars 2 as senior content designer

Might want to work on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias
and perhaps https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object_permanence

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Damn Styopa brought receipts!

For the record, this one caught our eye because this dev was a former WildStar and Warhammer dev who ran a blog, and Justin follows all the MMO blogs out there, so we happened to notice when he posted his goodbye as a blog post. I am positive we miss the vast majority of Anet and other studio departures because most don’t announce themselves. But we cover them when we do for the big MMOs and big names.

7BitBrian, admitting you know you’re going to get deleted for breaking the commenting code and doing it anyway is an odd flex. I’m leaving the thread intact because I think the commenters deftly explained your errors in thinking. Perhaps you should reflect on your own narrative. Please don’t do this again.

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cursedseishi

My guess? All the gaslighting. I know its that time of the year when it gets cold out and we need to stay warm, but this ain’t the way to do it.

Knowingly asserting a falsehood and attacking others with it ain’t great. You can run a quick google search on ‘leaves studio massivelyop’, and right off the bat at least 7 results pop up on the first page. Only 2 of those are about people leaving Arena.Net, the other 5 are other studios.

You disagree with a poster’s obviously hyperbolic jest? Cool, you do you. Don’t like people making jabs at Arena.Net? That’s fine, it ain’t personal though, and there’s no reason to act that way.

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cursedseishi

Because MOP suspiciously only seems to stalk ANet devs and announce their departures. People leave game companies for new ones every day. The average cycle for a dev in the tech and game industry is currently 3-4 years, max. This is not news, except for the fact that MOP only seems to make posts about when it happens at ANet

Veritably false.

Just like how they suspiciously never made a post about all the former ANet devs who came back to the studio for End of Dragons. But that doesn’t fit the narrative used to drive clicks very well.

Veritably false, and this one is especially damnable because it is so quickly and easily proven so.

You’re now shifting the goalpost from “It’s not newsworthy, but Massively only writes about it when its ArenaNet because they’re drama hogs against GW2”, to “Well, its not newsworthy”. Do. Not. Lie. And do not lie and try to assert that lie as fact to attack the site or others, that is plain and simple to do.

And yes, gaslighting. If you want to use what was linked specifically? Denying and Diverting. Denial of MassivelyOP of ever reporting of others leaving other studios as they’ve undeniably have done so multiple times. And Diverting by way of pushing the onus to be on MassivelyOP and that they somehow are pushing some self-asserted false narrative. As well as claiming you were being ‘attacked’. You aren’t.

This is literally the only thread where anyone has really gone at you, and it has been just one person–who you’ve been goading and prodding at. And it stemmed from your first post where, again, you asserted two claims of fact that I’m sure even you know are demonstrably false. If you feel as though it was a slight at you? Report it and move on. Instead, you doubled down and reasserted those same falsehoods I quoted above.

And, a third bit here but–

especially since MOP admitted themselves they do not do this for other devs simply because they don’t follow them on blogs

Bree specifically stated they follow all the MMO blogs out there–including Keaven’s–and since he stated something on his blog they reported it. They didn’t “admit” to “not doing it to other devs because they don’t follow them”, but because most any other dev doesn’t have their own blog and announce it themselves like Keaven does.
Again, willful denial.

Like I said, you don’t like it? Cool. Don’t like someone’s hyperbolic jab at the studio? Fine. But in no way, shape, or form does that give you the right to come in as you did with an outlandish claim and assertion to try and form some narrative to make yourself out to be righteous against the perceived villainy of MassivelyOP.

And yes, you are breaking the rules. And I’ll hazard a guess and bold the ones likely applicable here.

No hate speech, no personal attacks, no flamebaiting, no trolling, no threats, no sockpuppets, no advertising, no spam, no hassling the staff, no complaining about moderation, no complaining about the existence or theme of an article that nobody made you click on.

And, honestly, especially for the post that kicked it off I’d reckon the ‘complaining about moderation’ comes close to it too.

and for the sake of others sanity, I’ll be cutting things off here. I’ve said my piece, I’m done. You’re done.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Unlocking this thread for clarity – the poster above ignored the warning to knock off the bad faith comments and insults and earned a temp ban, but he then posted an additional 20+ spam comments (caught by the ban) and then apparently self-deleted his account and his comments (though not before I screengrabbed all of it just in case!). I’m sorry for how it’s turned this thread to orphaned nonsense.

To said poster, everyone makes mistakes, so if you cool down at some point, send us a note in a couple of weeks and I’ll reconsider the ban, though it’s probably moot now.

To everyone else, if you can get Styopa and Cursedseishi of all commenters to unite against your claims, you really gotta rethink your position. :P

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SmiteDoctor

Ha ha ha, and you think I’m bad at times; at least you let me reincarnate with new faces.

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cursedseishi

… So… are you a Doctor then? Cause I got this wibbly wobbly bump, and its been giving me one wimey of a hurtful timey.

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SmiteDoctor

Some might call me an altaholic, unfortunately about once a year I do something to offend Eliot and I have to start over, I don’t do it out of malice but I guess people think I’m being mean (it’s usually over a WoW Column).

So I make a new account and go on being me, my problem is I get modded heavily and I get defensive because no one ever tells me why they’re pissed off. Or they’ll respond and tell me but by the time I check they’ll have deleted my original comment along with the response.

I’m pretty sure I can’t name drop my self but I can tell you this, one of names is listed for scooping the Path of Fire leak, a different name was listed for hyping Wolcen when that was released, and no I’m me now.

Is what it is I just start over, its literally the worst kept secret because I’m 100 percent certain Bree knows exactly who I am but I think my many reincarnations are sort of a Meme so they go with it I guess.

Hey if I were resentful I wouldn’t keep coming back, I love this place, I love the people both staff and readers.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

Aww some people have blowups and then are fine and I’m not into grudges, especially with longtime community members who are great 99.9% of the time. If you have a small blowup and wanna switch names or eat a temp ban and still come back and aren’t just doing it to troll for a second ban, you’re tbh exactly the kind of person the comments need. I don’t consider it sockpuppetry if you’re just starting clean with good intentions!

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SmiteDoctor

.

4vcth3.jpg
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cursedseishi

Yeah, you tell that poster abov–…

I-It’s not me, I swear! I mean, well… CursedSeishi is always on MY case against me and my claims, but that’s coincidental. Confusing, and coincidental. Coincidentally confusing. Confusingly Coincidental. Y’know, I’ll… I’ll just CC myself with this message…

I’m just honored to get a namedrop.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

You’re all good CS. :P

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Fenrir Wolf

I really hate the way people throw around “gaslighting” these days. It has a meaning and it pertains to the behavioural patterns of social predators that some of us have had to deal with. I just don’t like it, I’m sorry.

What I see going on here isn’t gaslighting. It’s just folly in two parts.

1.) “One person is a tragedy, a thousand are a statistic.”

I think that this is the primary effect that’s leaving a lot of ArenaNet fans feeling ticked off because they aren’t thinking of the context behind the news. There’s a wordcount to be met and not exceded in most articles—so if one person leaves, the article about that one person must be substantial. However, if a hundred or more get the axe—which has been the case with other studios—then there’s realistically no way to document them all individually.

The reader only has so much of an attention span—and in modern journalling, especially MMORPG journalling, your target demo will likely be more extraverted thus implying a more fleeting attention span than usual. It also means that it doesn’t hurt to storify a little. I’m not accusing Massively of anything here, it’s just the writing style now. All sites do this. All of them.

If you can really storify your article you can keep that short attention span around longer—that’s difficult to do if the article is about a larger number being laid off, though easy if it’s only one where you can focus on their particular contributions, where they are going next, and so on.

I feel that the only way one could fashion a more substantial article out of many lost jobs is if the demographic is open to it—which gamers famously aren’t, with Jim Sterling being one of the very few popular exceptions. If Massively OP were to go to bat against, say, Activision-Blizzard for their laissez-faire attitude toward cavalierly firing in exceess while discouraging that anyone analyse it? They’d ben placing themselves on the wrack, and strapping in.

This is why most sites haven’t covered the sexual harassment at Ubisoft—gamers don’t want to hear about that. So at a site that’s less likely to make itself the target of a witch-hunt by being what gamers refer to as “political?” In a big firing, it’ll just be about numbers. That’s easily forgotten.

This results in weight being added to single fires. I will be the first to say that, yes, ArenaNet has had a lot of employees leaving single file of late. I’ll also say that they’ve shed less employees than most MMO studios out there, even ZeniMax Online Studios has seen much more in the way of losses as employees are folded back into Bethesda for the upcoming Elder Scrolls game.

It’s just unusual the way it’s happening at ArenaNet and that makes it more noticeable because news sites will cover the losses one by one. If the losses over the course of six months is six people, no news site is going to make a digest of them instead.

2.) The Passionate Fan

This is a multifaceted issue. It has to do with demographics again, though! Hooray. There are a lot of underserved demographics out there—some are quite surprising. I mean, consider that in the contemporary video games scene even small children are now a small demographic that’s largely ignored by large video games development studios. For every New Super Lucky’s Tale, you’ll see hundreds upon hundreds of games focused upon a more adult audience.

The truly passionate fan arises when one studio ends up targeting one of these underserved demographics—either intentionally or unintentionally—which results in a feeling of being recognised, seen. This happened to me. I mean, I’m a neurodiverse, plural person so I see much to relate to with characters in Guild Wars 2. Even Jormag, whom most neurotypicals wouldn’t be able to parse. It’s gratifying in ways that aren’t easily explained to the masses, sometimes even profoundly so.

For me, that moment when Jormag collared Bangar—a psychotic racial supremacist who was far too talented at using his charisma to wield hordes of tribal-minded people—was… Yes.

It was triumphant. It felt really good. I mean, often, neurodiverse people are far more targeted by dark triad personalities, and sadly extroverted people are often packs of unwitting patsies with very selective empathy who’d rather please their group leader than consider the feelings of an outsider. So seeing that kind of psychopath collared by a very neurodiverse dragon?

Yes. Frickin’ yes.

That was following a profoundly personal scene where… I think this one is going to be even more difficult for you to understand. As a traumatised person, I’m prone to invasive thoughts. I’m also plural, which is very lucky. Traumagenic. Words! You can research this if you like, it’s not that important though. I have a few other personable consciousnesses rocking around in my noggin and they have been instrumental in helping me cope. For a long time I was terrified of humanity so it was necessary—I have a partner now, but I still wouldn’t give them up for anything. I love them dearly. My partner understands this as they are also plural.

You can just think of me as batshit insane if you like. I mean, extroverts do that with neurodiverse people all the time anyway. I’ve heard it all before. So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about Guild Wars 2 and Living World Season 4. The more astute, empathetic, erudite, and observant of you can see exactly where this is going…

Kralkatorrik. Bloody Kralkatorrik. I like dragons. I’ve always been immensely fond of them—there’s power in an ancient creature so potent that can be anything, that doesn’t have to fit into any niche or hole carved out for them. Dragons are incredible in that regard, singular. There’s no other mythological creature quite like them.

What I didn’t expect was to end up combating a dragon’s invasive thoughts! It was… deeply personal, exotic, strange in a way I don’t think I could rightly articulate. For a moment where I was immersed in the narrative, it felt like paying it forward. There’s someone at ArenaNet who absolutely intended for it to feel that way… I felt noticed.

I very much doubt that for as long as I play video games, I’ll ever have an experience like that. I mean, people may try to copy it but they’d likely use humans—extraverted people are obsessed with their own species—or they won’t understand the particulars of exactly what makes it work but this? I’ll remember this. This was the first and it got it right. I mean, in the narrative sense the player was fighting a brain parasite of sorts but in the symbolic sense, I was absolutely combating Kralkatorrik’s invasive thoughts.

I don’t think you could know what it’s like to have a deeply moving experience like that. The thing is? Everything caters to you, so it dillutes it, it waters it down, when everything is doing just what you want it to do? You don’t feel it anymore. As the primary demo so sought after by the vast majority of studios out there, all that’s left is to feel entitled and to be bothered whenever anything isn’t all about your interests. Gamers! I’m not wrong.

Gamers are very entitled.

It’s not like that for all of us, though. As I said—underserved demographics exist. I am a part of one. There are many. And once in a blue moon we’re going to be hit by something so deeply personal that, yeah, we’ll get a bit protective.

It’s made me feel very protective of ArenaNet! I’ve been guilty of wondering whether there’s bias too but I’m pretty sure I never brought it up in a post. Pretty sure. The thing is? It can colour your perception. It feels especially good to be seen, to feel in some meaningful way represented. It doesn’t happen often.

When you combine those things? If someone is being emotional and not especially aware, the emotional desire to protect can fashion a plight for ArenaNet for one to come to their rescue. It’s quid pro quo, I suppose. You did this for me, let me do this for you.

This is what I think is going on. I don’t think it’s gaslighting, not really. Real gaslighting? Actual gaslighting? It takes effort. It’s cold, calculating, uncaring… I know. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve lived through some shit thanks to being neurodiverse. An overly emotional person who feels driven to repay a kindness isn’t gaslighting, they’re just… being irrational. I know that from experience too. I suppose the reason I’m not there with them is the wisdom of age.

What you have to wonder is what ArenaNet did for each of them that so few others are doing. That’s a far more interesting thing to ponder about.

And insanity. That too. I’m probably actually completely insane, which is how I can analyse this so calmly.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I’m baffled by these hypotheticals – they simply don’t reflect our actual website. We have repeatedly criticized Blizzard for its labor practices, no fear there. We also covered Ubisoft’s sexual harassment scandal extensively. Riot’s too. And we will forever go to bat for ArenaNet’s inclusive writing and hiring, regardless of its seemingly endless corporate shenanigans – one doesn’t erase the other.

The person above who earned a ban and deleted his posts was accused of gaslighting everyone because he was making unjust accusations and seemed to not realize people were capable of searching and finding the articles he insisted didn’t exist. Btw, our news writers don’t really have word count quotas. We own this place, thanks to our readers, and we run it our own way. Happy reading! :)

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cursedseishi

I used the term regarding a certain individual in this thread who, as Bree stated, got rightly smacked with the banhammer–and as a result they seemingly decided to delete all of their posts. It wasn’t in regard to the article, nor the other posters still visible here. It’s been a week so I’d rather let this particular dog sleep, but there were very particular elements of said users arguments that were blatantly false that they asserted as fact in order to attack and undermine others as well as the article. Elements that, when disputed and proven wrong, they doubled down upon and grew increasingly… disingenuous, without ever actually acknowledging or addressing. My larger post has 3 bits from said user taken as block quotes; the first two snippets from an early comment in this thread, and the third was part of the user’s response towards Bree’s first comment.

It may not be it in the ‘truest’ sense of the word, but the intent was the same.

Said user was clearly a passionate fan, and my comments here were rather… late in the argument among the thread–but it was right at the tipping point where the user crossed the line from ‘angry passionate fan’ to ‘toxic element’. I hadn’t reported the user until it became clear this was less ‘in defense of ArenaNet’ and more ‘I’m the only one in the right here and nobody else–staff included–know what they’re talking about’. It’s also why I ended that larger post with “I’m done. You’re done.”, because by that point the conversation had hit a wall and wasn’t going to progress anywhere that’d be constructive.

Nevertheless, it isn’t a word I like to throw willy-nilly about. There’s no need to apologize, and I wouldn’t call you insane or crazy or anything of the like.