ArenaNet fired a pair of game developers who each worked on Guild Wars for better than a decade after an exchange with a fan of the game on Twitter got heated. Narrative designer Jessica Price and writer Peter Fries, a 12-year veteran of ArenaNet, were both let go for comments made to a YouTube streamer known as Deroir, who was critical of the game’s branching dialogue.
Jessica Price posted a series of tweets to her personal account regarding the differences in writing dialogue for characters in linear and non-linear games. Deroir chimed in that he disagreed with her assessments in a three-tweet series that Price took exception to. The tweet series laid out by Deroir basically tells Price not only his opinion but how she should be doing her job. While he kept his tone “respectful,” others in the thread pointed out that he was basically mansplaining to her a subject she knew far better than he did.
A number of gamers were quick to defend Deroir, claiming that he was only trying to talk about the game and that Price should be glad fans want to talk to her at all, and that her response to his tweet, “thanks for trying to tell me what we do internally, my dude 9_9”, was out of bounds and that she attacked him first.
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
In almost no time, a thread regarding the exchange appeared on Reddit and in game forums, and everyone seemingly had a side. While gamers were mostly siding with Deroir, other game developers were siding with Price. Fries was one that came in and publicly defended Price. In the end, sides mattered very little once ArenaNet got involved.
“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.”
While some players cheered the firing, most felt ArenaNet went way too far. The more time that passed from the initial exchange, the more people began to feel that Price really didn’t get out of line, and maybe Deroir really was the problem. Price pointed out that the relationship between devs and players is one in which the devs are almost always harassed, particularly women, and the game companies generally allow it so long as devs don’t fight back. If this reminds anyone of gamergate, you’re on the right track. Speaking of developers, many had a number of negative things to say to ArenaNet, but none may be more telling than what Chad Faliszek at Bossa Studios had to say.
“Companies need to learn, these interactions cost you nothing, you lose no customers, a week later no one remembers. But when you don’t support your employees? The industry is small enough and we all do remember.”
Since the incident, Price has not spoken on the topic much, but the amount of support pouring in for her on social media shows that she has people in her corner. Deroir seems to have slipped back to the level of obscurity he enjoyed prior the exchange, and all is well for everyone it would seem, except for Price and Fries. And maybe ArenaNet who is trying to sell their $60 game that they have now found a lot of women don’t want due to their treatment of Price and Fries.
In an interview posted on The Verge, Price seemed to sum the entire situation up very nicely with some food for all to think about.
“The message is very clear, especially to women at the company: if Reddit wants you fired, we’ll fire you. The quality of your work doesn’t matter… Get out there and make sure the players have a good time. And make sure you smile while they hit you.”
ArenaNet has been contacted by several media outlets, including Buzzfeed, for comment, but has failed to return queries for comment. At this time it is believed that Price and Fries are seeking new employment still.