A couple of weeks ago, the gaming industry learned there are consequences when developers trash their fans.
Or maybe it didn’t learn, considering how many are rushing to defend a “Guild Wars 2” developer who was fired after blowing up at a guy on Twitter.
On July 3, ArenaNet employee Jessica Price wrote a Twitter thread sharing her opinions on how to write player characters in massive multiplayer online games. A “Guild Wars 2” fan and streamer known as Deroir responded, calling the thread “interesting” and “insightful” but politely disagreeing with Price’s views.
For whatever reason, Price unloaded on the guy.
“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,’” she tweeted about Deroir’s comments.
Price went on to call the YouTuber an “asshat” and tweeted, “Since we've got a lot of hurt manfeels today, lemme make something clear: This is my feed. I'm not on the clock here. I'm not your emotional courtesan just because I'm a dev. Don't expect me to pretend to like you here.”
Clearly, Price’s attitude is terrible, and her response was completely unwarranted. She and a fellow developer who chimed in were both fired as a result.
“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,” ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O’Brien said after the firings.
“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,” he said.
A game developer putting the customers first and treating them with mutual respect just might be a better business strategy than trashing them for no reason, don’t you think?
Deroir himself was perplexed by Price’s reaction, as was any sane onlooker. He pointed out that he’s a feminist and his comments had nothing to do with Price’s gender.
“You getting mad at my obvious attempt at creating dialogue and discussion with you, instead of just replying that I am wrong or otherwise correct me in my false assumptions, is really just disheartening for me,” he tweeted.
Price, her coworker and others made points that it wasn’t Deroir’s place to chime in on Price’s thread in the first place, but that’s ludicrous. Have they forgotten what Twitter is? It’s a social medium where conversation isn’t only expected and encouraged but the point of the entire platform in the first place. Price made a public thread on a public account and got offended when a fan responded as intended. That’s just crazy.
Still, several game journalists and indie developers were quick to rush to Price’s defense, going so far as to basically blame Deroir for the fallout.
“Deroir’s lack of empathy for what happened throughout this controversy is notable, as is his claim that he’s a feminist. For that to be more than a word in a tweet, he should have understood how his tweet came off, and where Price’s anger came from,” Polygon wrote.
Again, another ridiculous position. Deroir was nothing but civil in all of his comments toward and about Price, but he’s still in the wrong because Price’s overreaction somehow has to be justified? Welcome to the loony world of modern video game journalism.
It’s worth noting that this incident wasn’t Price’s first time in hot water, nor even the first time she’s been fired. After famed YouTuber and video game critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain died from cancer earlier this year, Price tweeted, “The kindest thing I can say is, ‘I'm glad he's no longer around to keep doing harm.’” Frankly, it’s a disgusting opinion to have about the recently deceased, no matter how much you disagreed with his politics.
Despite Price obviously being in the wrong, it’s no fun to see people lose their jobs over their right to free speech. But in the end, ArenaNet is a business, and most businesses won’t tolerate employees tarnishing their good name by insulting customers. Imagine that.
The loudest voices in the industry believe Price deserves sympathy, but she knew what she was doing. To this day, she doesn’t regret what she tweeted, which really tells you all you need to know.
This industry would be a lot better off if people treated each other with respect and we didn’t idolize those who don’t.