We Talk About ArenaNet Firing Two People Last Week Over a Twitter Exchange


#1

On Today's Waypoint Radio, we start out talking about games like Six Ages and Prey: Mooncrash, along with the true cinematic gem Skybound. But soon enough, we work our way towards the topic of last week's incident at ArenaNet, where two developers were fired for their comments on Twitter, and what that means (and could mean) in the current fraught state of the industry.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/pawy3y/arenanet-fired-developers-twitter

About Arenanet Firing Two Employees
#2

I want to comment on something that was brought up about the ArenaNet thing.

The most disappointing thing for me has definitely been the general response from gamers. People who aren’t actually part of the mob being directed out of KiA and such.

I wasn’t expecting much, because I know that even at the most progressive gaming forums (outside of this one), people will descend by the dozens to demand (and, if it appears, dismiss) evidence of sexual harassment, for example.

Still, I was stunned at how many people cannot even begin to understand a position other than what I said in the previous thread, “Price was mean to someone who wasn’t mean”, and how from that position they feel that the firings are both logical and justified.

People I had some amount of respect for were immediately on the train and ready to fight anyone who wasn’t. She was mean to a gamer, and that simply cannot stand, I guess.

It’s really frustrating when people genuinely cannot see the problem even when it’s staring them in the face.


#3

I think you can find the same sorts of people who live in the toxic culture of the league of legends Reddit page. Its getting harder and harder to avoid hoards of people who single out riot Devs and balancers for not being good enough at their balancing job with NO KNOWLEDGE of the process internally.

Patch notes in general find people constantly complaining without a single admission that maybe their perspectives are based on limited information and that maybe its not okay to blame the balance team or champion designers and literally blame staff for it time and time again. How sickening must it feel to endure this day in and day out as a riot employee tasked with communication with the community? Or with riot employees who have to do it on top of their other job?

I remember a writer getting fired and while in that instance (implying tyler1 should have cancer anf doubling down with no apology) its certainly understandable because of the threatening nature of the comments section of fandom’s. Tyler1 emboldened people by being a loud asshole and calling out riot employees all rhe time. geneally treating riot employees as subsevient to him.

People will literaly personalize your actions and make you seem disengenous or deceitful or outright disrespectful to a fandom just because they disagree with it. And in q and a sections they will phrase it in such toxic ways (“hi I have a question why did you somehow thing this cuz change was okay”)

The fandom is so full of itself in LoL.

I also wouldn’t be surprised that the biggest catalyst for the firing was the ‘sjw’ implications of using the term mansplaining and the whole situation is so so sad


#4

I watched a friend play through Prey on PS4 recently, so I kiiinda wish Mooncrash was stand-alone 20 AUD purchase instead of the 80 AUD I’ll probably end up spending, but oh well. I’ll hold out for a sale. It sounds extremely fun.

There was a lot of good discussion on the ANet stuff in here, especially about not framing the discussion entirely on Twitter’s shortcomings as a platform, which is 100% the right direction to push things in. But a lot of the discourse I’ve seen from ANet community partners etc. has been like “I’m going to explain why Price is wrong for thinking her Twitter is a private/personal space”, and Boy Do I Have Some Thoughts On That Mindset, sooo -

  • Yeah, blogs/social media feeds are publicly accessible if not locked, or set to private, or whatever. But publicly accessible is not mutually exclusive with personal. A person cultivates online presences like these to be a personal space, representing their own tastes and comforts. In most instances, that space is something a person uses to express themselves/their opinions in a way that can connect them to others. Wanting to share you personal space with people, for whatever reason, still doesn’t make it any less personal. No less owned, and no less coded to represent something about you.

  • Removed of context, maybe (maybe) Price’s comments seem blunt. But people aren’t ever removed from the context of their own lives, and shouldn’t have to be within their own personal space! Even if community members like Deroir or MMOinks meant no ill intent, the failure to consider the context Price has to live in is 100% on them. It’s an easy mistake to make. Its probably not exactly the same, but I @'d Austin on Twitter over one of the Pantheon of Games stories last year. If I’d stopped to think for a moment, I would have realised the forums were a better place for that discussion. Or, like Austin mentioned on the pod, that other people were probably already taking it up with him. Failure to consider stuff like that is always on the individual engaging, a really useful lesson to learn, and not really a hard one either.

  • I’m not a big fan of Tumblr either, but I do think it has one advantage on twitter in this context: there is usually a clear visual difference between the dashboard feed and someone’s personal blog/space within Tumblr. Theoretically this makes it harder for someone to argue that space isn’t personal, and I’d like to hope the visual cues would make them less inclined to… but it sure is the internet. The root of the problem is still not attempting to understand the person you want to approach.

I had someone tell me recently that “taking other people into consideration when interacting with others” isn’t important to them anymore, which feels very much what leads to the problems at play here. I don’t understand it in the slightest. :confused:

Other then that, yeah ANet fucked up monstrously here. Maybe this’ll spark some change in the industry, but I’m not really hopeful just yet. To try and find a positive note to end on: HEY! if anyone liked how the whole “maybe that person who cut me off just had somewhere they really needed to be” thought exercise mentioned sounded, try watching the anime Gatchaman Crowds. I haven’t watched the second season, but the first season features a really strong message of trying to live in that mindset whenever possible. Also cool mech suits and nb characters!


#5

I was interested by Austin mentioning on the Podcast that he was surprised to find even a lot of his followers joining in the condemnation of the devs, not just the regular group of troublemakers who show up for every event like this. This general type of issue has existed as news stories for a long time (comedian finally snaps at a random heckler, celebrity finally snaps at the paparazzi, etc) but they usually get more empathy for those situations, maybe because we can all openly recognise hecklers and paparazzi as bad, but seemingly innocuous comments from someone who looks like they’re trying to be constructive on Twitter don’t seem to fit the same bill.

I think a lot of it comes down to, as mentioned in the podcast, people not understanding how exhausting it can be to hear the same slightly obnoxious comments 300 times. From the perspective of people without much of a following (i.e. most of Twitter), their experience with Following people who don’t know them involves trying to join in on the conversation of someone they feel like they know pretty well with a little comment or observation, but 99% of the time getting ignored completely or sometimes being met instead with a “yeah thanks for telling me what I already know dumbass” that seems strangely harsh.

Not really sure how to fix this aside from generally educating people on the concept of microaggressions when these issues that require context to understand properly come up.


#6

I think one of the problems is that even if you’ve got experience of marginalisation (which may be a reasonable assumption for at least some of the followers Austin is talking about) and are aware of microaggressions as a concept, if the best way forward (in terms of pushing yourself into the halls of power in whatever area you’re in) is respectability politics then there’s an incentive to ignore what you know and play that game.

Obviously we don’t know the thinking of any of those condemning the devs, but I’d speculate that at least some of the defence of ANet management (with a series of worse and worse statements being made by them) is a function of people “playing the game” under Kyriarchy. For those people, it’s not an issue of lacking the education or understanding of what’s going on, it’s an issue of incentives for ignoring what we know and instead justifying the opposite position in terms of selectively reading the situation. Without dismantling that pathway to power (keeping your head down, embracing respectability politics, and generally nodding along) then it’ll be extremely difficult to make real change.


#7

The Waypoint folks talk about Riverdale quite a bit but have they ever talked about Jughead being retconned into being heterosexual? I feel like that’s something they would comment on.


#8

The bit that infuriates me most about the ANet defenders is that no-one can see the micro-aggressions as @CodyDaviesTV said in the tweets that she received. It is so polite as to be completely unaware of how obnoxious and insulting it is to a professional in their field. It’s a sore point for me because I’ve had this happen to me recently at work too, and I’m a man and even then it was several awkward conversations where I had to explain to those people that “thanks for your help, but this is my work, I know what I’m doing, please don’t be hurt if I don’t want your advice since you think my job is just down to common sense.” I can’t imagine getting that hundreds of times per day, and on top of that, having the mansplaining side to it too, and in general having to fight twice, three times as hard to get the same respect as a man. Why can’t these internet-dwellers on Twitter realise this? They don’t get that the scales are not balanced, yes they will infuriate people with their privilege and assumed superiority.

Also just as a side-note, this is the first community I’ve seen that agrees that this shouldn’t have happened. Happy to be here!


#9

I had somewhat stepped away from the internet last week and only managed to catch bits and pieces about the ArenaNet controversy, so thanks for summarizing the situation. And thanks for calling out the bullshit. I can’t believe the amount of people advocating for such a feudalistic interpretation of capitalism such that even the most minor of transgressions are punished by firing. What have we become as a people to accept such corporate hegemony?

Also, relatedly, I said it before and I’ll say it again; Twitter is a garbage platform run by garbage people. The quicker everyone ditches that cesspool the better off we will all be.


#10

Capitalism has probably just beaten it out of them, honestly. A lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding why this shouldn’t have resulted in termination because for a significant portion of american workers this would also get them fired. There’s a gap between “I would have been fired for doing the same so this makes sense I guess” and “Man it’s real messed up that anyone COULD be fired for this” that’s hard for many to make because they’ve lived their entire lives in a system that actively discourages them making it.


#11

That’s true, a colleague of mine has spent a lot of time working in restaurants and she is definitely not surprised that she got fired, seemingly on the spot. But so-called blue-chip, progressive, digital companies are slightly different, and gamers as a whole should understand that developers make their games, they’re not there to like them and be their friends. Can’t remember a time at all when a chef was anything like polite to me, but that’s okay why should they be?


#12

I’m surprised at how completely ok so many people are with a company callously making an example out of employees by destroying their livelihood. Like is that really the world that the crowd who are attacking these two people want to live in? One where your employer can’t even be bothered to give you a warning but just goes ahead and takes away your means of survival, just like that? Should people and their kids go hungry if they act defensively towards someone on Twitter? It’s absurd the more you think about it.

I work in retail, like a ton of people have. If there is an issue/dispute between an employee and a customer, a bad manager says the customer is always 100% right and immediately reprimands the employee or threatens their job. A good manager settles the dispute, and takes into account how much good the employee has done for the business and who they are as a person and defends them accordingly. It’s common sense. You don’t toss them out the door like trash because of one incident in which something hostile occurred. Anyone who runs a business where they are entirely too desperate to appease their clientele and consumers is without a doubt one that throws employees under the bus, and it’s not a sustainable model.


#13

Gamer identity is consumerist identity. Self-identified gamers see modifications of their preferred product as a transgression against who they are, or the altar at which they worship. In their mind, the health and quality of the product directly correlates to their own health. Decrying the behavior of a developer is, to them, on par with Martin Luther laying that fucking nail. Their worldview is fundamentally fucked up, and should be completely rejected, especially by those who contest their behavior. I’m just so sick of beating around this bush: it’s unhealthy, selfish, and flatly delusional for games to be of this significance to anyone.


#14

I agree that it’s very frustrating that so many people are so focused on the apparent politeness of the streamers comment. Like you say, they completely miss out on the point that this is most likely just the latest in a large amount of similar comments Price has received that are more or less condescending to her talents.

The charitable part of me just wants to think they are ignorant rather than malicious, but the further this goes I’m not so sure. Also, I guess the effect is the same either way.


#15

I don’t think this point can be overstated honestly. Like, I know that the idea that someone doing essentially free promo work to a moderate audience of followers can get shitcanned like this is busted, and it’s a symptom of late stage capitalist bullshit. But I also know that myself and a lot of people live and die by their paychecks in jobs where stepping a toe out of line can equal termination. It’s horrible, and people need to be angry at the system and the people like ANet who perpetuate it. But its real easy to see why less… “”"“woke”""" people wouldn’t have the same thought.

Pivot to talking about 501 teachers dealing with 101 questions-- I’m weirdly reminded of how things work in creative fandom (i.e. the fandom of fic and art and such) where there is a strong etiquette rule that if the creator of a thing does not ask for constructive concrit, it’s extremely rude to off it, and is outright banned in many communities.

The idea being

  1. Unless you have commissioned that person or are otherwise paying them, you don’t get a say in their work, and
  2. You are often not in a position to fully understand their thought process and creative process, so your opinion is not useful.

Like… I’m unsure how I feel about applying that outside of niche creative spaces, but I do think there is merit in, barring instances of overtly hateful media that deserves the call out, the people who should be telling Price and others like her how to do her job are the people who have given her that job and are paying her.

For example, if I don’t like the… UI of a game, or whatever, I should not aim my ire at the UI Designer I looked up on LinkedIn and found their Twitter and now I can tell them how shit their work is. That’s bonkers. Any dubiously constructive concrit shouldn’t be aimed at the wage worker who is answering to a larger machine. If anything it should be aimed at the product as a whole, like by reviewing it or discussing it. When you get into the grandual names that you think are behind X or Y, you’re going to be attacking people who often have no control to fix this thing.

Regardless, I’m keeping an eye out on who responds to this debacle how, so I know where to spend my money in the future.


#16

This is the attitude I see all the time that is just so short-sighted. One of the mantras of the entitled fanboy is “You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for us gamers buying your products!” They never, ever think of the corollary: You wouldn’t have anything to buy/play if there weren’t people making it. Educated guesses put GW2 players at around 1.5 million. There are, what, a few hundred narrative designers at Price’s level, tops? Which one do they think is going to run out first?
{edit: spelling}


#17

Thank you for having this discussion about the ArenaNet situation. I still play Guild Wars 2, and I am profoundly disappointed in how things were handled, and in a lot of the community response. I’ve just sent a letter to ArenaNet. I encourage you all to do the same. Their contact information is below, per their website:

ArenaNet, LLC.
3180 139th Ave SE
5th Floor
Bellevue, WA 98005

I think it’s important to let them know what the wider gaming community thinks about what happened, but if you still play Guild Wars 2 at all, I would especially consider sending a letter, or even an e-mail.


#18

What’s really suspect, to me, is that Price claimed that ArenaNet had absolutely no problem with the way she conducted herself on social media during a prior discussion (I think the exact words they used were that they wanted her to “keep speaking her truth,” or that they didn’t want her position with them to prove an impediment), but the moment a few reddit shitlords threatened to boycott the game, she was unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

People who claim that this dismissal was justified because it “wasn’t her first offense” and that she “courted controversy” seem to be missing that detail; she hasn’t even indicated that she was reprimanded for what she said about TB. ArenaNet claimed they would stand by her, claimed that they valued what she had to say, and utterly failed to do so when presented with the (likely empty) threat of losing a few players.

People just don’t seem to understand that unless they’re part of the PR department, developers are not being paid to be nice to you, especially when you approach them with aggression or condescension. You are not entitled to their off-duty time, access to their personal social media, or their emotional energy, even if you paid for the product on which they worked or are currently working. Most devs will treat you kindly if you approach them with respect, in good faith, because that is a Normal Human Thing To Do, but they’re as entitled to tell you to fuck off into the ether as any stranger you @ would be.


#19

As much as I hate to admit it and while I’m not well versed enough on GW2 to say specifically because it’s less of a numbers go up game, you can go a long way with an mmo without talented narrative designers. Its a genre where most of your players are treating the plot as a thing to be skipped.


#20

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