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.”
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!
Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.
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Grassroots advocacy group Game Workers Unite posted a statement on Pricegate today, “emphatically denouncing” ArenaNet for firing Guild Wars 2’s Jessica Price and Peter Fries over last week’s Twitter/Reddit meltdown.
“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to,” the statement said.
The group labeled Mike O’Brien as a “clearly inadequate” leader who “made the knee-jerk reaction” last week to fire the two developers.
“ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,” the group wrote. “This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that two Guild Wars 2
developers were cut loose last week after a heated Twitter exchange that was initiated by narrative lead Jessica Price. What started off as welcome insight into the problems with player-character narrative development in MMOs turned into a PR horror show
when the dev felt slighted by a comment received in response to her musing.
The internet is alight with opinions on the drama and ArenaNet’s response to the comments made by Price and her coworker, so in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I just had to address it myself.
Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”
“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”
Please note that this article has been heavily updated over the last week as this story has continued developing. New additions are at the bottom, but the beginning of the piece is a bit out of date. We recommend our recent Flameseeker Chronicles or Massively OP Podcast to help you get caught up.
The Guild Wars 2 team is short two narrative designers today after a pitched internet war of words on Twitter.
“Recently two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players,” ArenaNet’s Mike O’Brien wrote on the game’s forums. “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.”
We presume the employees are Jessica Price and Peter Fries, who have been the subject of a heated Reddit-and-forum flamewar that’s long since passed 10,000 comments and upvotes across its many threads for the last two days.