Guild Wars 2 writers get fired after Twitter exchange with streamer

Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet has fired two writers, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, after they were involved in a heated Twitter exchange. The exchange was with a partnered Twitch streamer Deroir.

On Tuesday, July 3 Price wrote a lengthy thread about writing for MMOs and why the player characters are a unique challenge compared to protagonists in single-player games. It explains how you have to inject personality to keep the story moving forward, while leaving enough space for players to insert their own character. It is the battle of the blank slate that allows you to put yourself into the narrative and be a part of the story and it is worth reading how the balance is kept when writing the Commander. It is worth a read if you care about narratives, regardless if you are a fan of Guild Wars or not.

Of course, as is the way of the internet, someone replied to tell the person who just explained how intricate and delicate the balance of creating this illusion of character without actual character that is needed in an MMO’s protagonist, how to do their job. Price responded:

“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.”

The tweet that got the most attention from the Guild Wars 2 subreddit is about “rando asshats” talking down to developers.

One would think this is where the discussion ends. Deroir tweeted that he “meant no disrespect” and life could continue. But that wasn’t the case. On the Guild Wars 2 forum, in a thread explicitly about Price and Fries’ tweets, ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien called the tweets “attacks on the community”.

“Two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players.”

Both the Guild Wars 2 forum and the subreddit are full of celebrations of these two people being fired. Even without going into whether Price was being rude or not, or whether Deroir deserved the treatment or not, being fired for a comment like this instead of getting a warning or social media training or anything less severe than termination of employment is setting a dangerous precedent. In this situation, ArenaNet’s management has given anyone on the internet the power to ask for the dismissal of an employee or to try to bait out similar responses from other devs. O’ Brien saying “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.” firmly puts the ball, or in this case the trigger, in the hands of someone else.

The ramifications of termination of employment for posting something on social media will eventually lead to developers not talking on social media at all, hiding behind pseudonyms or just never discussing work. It probably also resulted in a lot of people at ArenaNet brushing up on their CVs to send out, because management has put out the message that the community comes first, and it will cost you your job. As for celebrating people being fired? Gross.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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