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


Yes devs can try to wave it away by calling us “entitled” and “toxic” and relying on caveat emptor, but OK then, don’t expect 100% positive fandom after you roll out day one pre-order DLC. The truth of this interaction is more like a two way street paved by the commercial intentions of the companies where fans are more often than not road kill.

I think that while you are correct that fandom can have more nuance than positive and toxic, you are also conflating decisions made by executives with the people actually making the game. No dev is pushing for pre-order DLC, but the suits in the corner office definitely are. And the suits aren’t the ones dealing with harassment. If players want to be treated like big boys and girls, maybe they should act like it and direct their vitriol toward the assholes in power.


I think this is a interesting point; if games had a more formalised discussion point - like forums - where these comments / criticisms / suggestions were accepted then it might make it easier for devs to keep their private twitter accounts … well, private. And also provides a more formal space for discussion within set guidelines.

I think neither party in the initial discussion were great, although obviously the guy was much worse, and it is totally understandable for someone to snap in exasperation in private. But really the whole discussion should be about how bad twitter is for enabling these people to have a platform to actively harass others, and how spineless ArenaNet are, with a side helping of holy shit America get your shit together W/R/T workers rights (I know this is easier said than done but as a European [for a few more weeks at least] the mind boggles)


Oh no, no no no, we never want fans to ‘control’ our projects, absolutely not.
When we ask for feedback it’s about taking the temperature about what is liked/disliked, it would be a disaster to ask fans how something should be fixed or implemented. It’s hard enough getting a consensus for six people in a meeting, asking six million fans would be a nightmare.

Why not check the Paradox podcast? They talk about this in great detail, and it turns out, this works VERY well for them.


The problem is you have just described the entirety of social media except maybe arguably discord, and that has functional design that makes it a different sort of experience. There are literally no alternatives besides clunky offshots that will either be devoured or are so cumbersome to use or lack any real additions that nobody will use them.

Twitter, as much as I hate to say it, is probably the least awful of this cesspool just by how obnoxiously terrible everyone is (especially Facebook). Until there’s a social media site that works like Twitter and succeeds (allowing you to easily cultivate your own space, in a way), it’s probably going to stick around because, honestly, where do most of us have to go.


There are dedicated forums for feedback. And there are third-party forums (subreddits, Steam forums) for still more (often unsolicited) feedback. There have been for as long as there has been an internet, with Letters to the Editor predating even that. The reason this kind of unwanted, often hostile feedback bleeds into social media is fans feel like they aren’t being heard on those forums. The problem, though, isn’t the medium or the method. It’s that fans feel like they don’t just deserve to be heard, they need to be heard. It’s an imperative, and a right, per their purchase (“support”) of the product.

I believe that, in fact, they do not need to be heard, nor do they even deserve to be heard. Developers likely feel the same way. Until these kinds of fans accept that neither their own existence, nor the product’s existence, is dependent on the other, this will continue to happen regardless of means through which to communicate with developers.


It’s real easy to tell people to “speak truth to power” when your power isn’t the one being questioned. The part that sticks out to me is how O’Brien caved from such a tiny amount of backlash, a fraction of a percent that women have to deal with just as a baseline. He had no idea how dangerous being outspoken could be when he encouraged it.

Obviously this situation is more serious, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of this:


There are better alternatives like, for instance, mastodon, but the sticking point has been that hardly any of the people I follow are active on there even if, like me, they’ve namesquatted accounts.


I certainly didn’t mean to conflate that Navster and I understand well that game dev employees get shoved in between executives and consumers. For employees this can be very unpleasant and unfair. And that’s a good reason as any why they need to form a union at work.

But I was really talking about the preception that fan bases are either positive or toxic based on whether they are positive or negative. Negative criticism is inevitable and necessary in this day and age precisely because of the business practices of the companies.


The problem with Mastodon is two-fold.

  1. How well you can use it depends primarily on where you live and the server you pick.
  2. Not enough people use it to be a viable place to plug or advertise your work.


Yeah Salarn I shouldn’t have used the word control, that was Rob Z.'s expression about the motivations of toxic gamers and I wanted to use in my own way it but it didn’t fit. What I’m trying to say is devs ask the community for input and all sorts of battles break out to influence what will actually happen to the game. And when there is so much DLC or other updates coming all the time, such interplay can be exhausting.

I’m not a paid-up member of the Paradox community so I can’t accurately characterize the fan base there, just generalizing from my own experience. I have been watching the Total War: Warhammer fanbase from afar and the constant yipping and yapping about updates and DLC is insane. The devs play those guys and gals like a fiddle. Then Creative Assembly screws up something and there is just this huge backlash.


i see a lot of people hate hate hate “certainlyT” like “hes objectively bad” because he created yasuo and zoe which are champs that reddit hates and its just like what the heck this is ridiculous but theres zero reasoning with them


i bet the same people get mad when a racist is fired so its like… they just want people they like fired and people they dont like fired basically.


Yes, even though I brought up the creative fandom comparison, I am also aware that the solution there will not apply to game dev. I only meant that it’d be nice if people realize they don’t have a leg to stand on when critiquing the technique of professionals like this. I too think that people with years of experience and education in the industry and who are actually making the dang thing are going to know the hurdles and solutions to an issue more than any consumer.

People are just so hyped to leap in and share their Brilliant Solution with someone who has in almost every instance already taken such BS into account. But god forbid you tell them that their opinion is unwanted and unneeded.


The ArenaNet firings have opened the door for more glaringly disingenuous nonsense from “consumers,” such as what this Aussie dev illuminates in her Twitter feed. Fortunately her company saw through the complainer’s transparent bullshit and released a supportive statement:



That’s probably true in this specific case. I was meaning it more generically, but even in this situation, my guess is ArenaNet lost more than just the two people they fired. They opened the door for places like Gearbox, where Randy Pitchford is already out on Twitter saying they would’ve had the writers’ backs.

I don’t know if these Gamergate wannabes think there are a bunch of sexist, misogynist, top-level professional game designers just waiting in the wings after all the SJWs get fired or quit out of fear, but if that’s what they’re hoping for, I think they’re delusional. I mean, obviously they’re delusional, but they’re also specifically delusional about this.


Exactly my point! Its one thing when you see someone hate that champion but reddit makes it easy to couch games design and ascribe malice and hatred to people who don’t agree with them. As if its impossible that zoe was overtuned and they wanted to spend time to fix it and research it. People are legitimately lobbying hate directly at workers of riot with no conscience and expect workers to actually endure it unschathed. Its toxic


As mentioned on the podcast, I think it’s important to see this inside the much broader pattern of harassment (of marginalised people, often women) by people with Rightist views attempting to make life impossible for anyone they deem to be too Left or “SJW” while in public (of which GG was just one branded section of). This is far from an isolated incident (not the first high profile time someone was fired in US gaming); on a regular basis every female writer I know deals with people emailing the various publications where they’ve written attempting to demand they get fired. “Snitching on my social media because I dared to express a Lefty view” is basically a meme at this point, a classification for an entire group of angry online dudes.

This is something the harassers would characterise as “just doing the same as the liberals did to [person fired for being extremely racist online]”. Austin shuts that lie down on the podcast but it’s probably worth looping into the wider conversation with the likes of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and other shallow & useless hand-wringing that draws an equivalence between the harassment we’re talking about here and someone who loses their job after being extremely racist in public.

But going back to specifically talking about these Rightist harassment campaigns, we may see an uptick in them specifically against game developers right now but we should probably avoid looking at that as a bubble or trend when it’s always been going on all the time (especially deployed against women) over a whole range of industries.

Some of the discussion (I’ve seen bubbling up in places) around if ArenaNet management are dupes evaporates when we look at the years of this stuff constantly happening, and so it being something they had a duty to be aware of.


I’ve seen more of this on Twitter this past week and it’s so much bullshit. What’s worse is that even if things “calm down” it’ll still be a threat hanging over any marginalized developer. Be too outspoken and your online life will be dug through to find any ammo that can be used against you.

Not that this hasn’t already been happening (the firing of Allison Rapp by Nintendo was already brought up in the last thread) but ArenaNet again shows that this harassment tactic works and helps feed it.

I saw Patrick retweet a Remedy developer who said that their team is drawing up policies for social media, which can be some help. But I’m not sure if that’ll counteract either the silencing effect (which is what these groups are after), or help against a group which will push you until you make a single step over the line if you have a boss who refuses to acknowledge context and systematic abuse.


What I really don’t get is that people know that there are balance patches every two weeks, but yet they still talk about the changes they dislike as if they are going to be in the game forever. I for one, would’ve stopped playing a long time a go, if the updates were a lot less frequent or more minimal.


Good cast with lots of interesting takes. I was wondering about Austin and Patrick’s discussion about how Twitter fails as a platform and I wanted to know if there’s a platform out there that succeeds in letting lots of people talk to a few. It seems like a hard problem no one’s solved, and that places like this forum and Discord are better mainly because the audience is smaller and self-selecting.

If there is a better platform for us to talk to popular people, it’d be great to start moving to it.

Also, I hope we get a Patrick “PK Dick Detective” Klepek OC.