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


#61

The answers to why people use Twitter; why people give unsolicited advice to creators; why it invariably, inevitably upsets creators; and why creators don’t always choose to let it slide off their backs are all out there. I recognize all of this has been in good faith, but as I write this, you’ve edited in acknowledgement of the irony in asking these questions, so I think we’re on the same page at this point.


#62

So, a big problem that this misses is it’s actually extremely important to have social media presence as a person who works in games for a number of reasons and twitter is really bad at providing proper tools to cultivate good discussion. As much as people like mastodon and the like, they’re tiny compared to twitter/facebook but community interaction and engagement is extremely valuable from both a business perspective and a career safety perspective. People love personal interaction, it’s why every big twitch streamer has a face cam and cultivating a following lets you do things like bring a certain percentage of your audience with you when you move on to new projects. A lot of people were very excited for the Amy Hennig star wars game because people know who she is. A not insignificant portion of waypoint’s fan base followed Austin from Giant Bomb. You can’t just completely check out of these spaces without consequences unless you are really famous.


#63

That’s not how human emotion. When you snap, you snap, and depending at where you are or what you’re doing decides what happens after more often than controlling yourself. Social media makes this worse because we’re CONSTANTLY controlling ourselves and filtering what we put out there, because we sudden;y have a massive possible audience. When that audience gets big enough, especially when dealing with bad faith actors trying to personally attack or annoy you, the amount of horrid things put in your direction increases and compounds and stresses you out. I’m just amazed more developers don’t have outbursts considering how god awful toxic this entire medium’s communities have become.

Imagine playing a show with an audience of thousands, possibly millions, and most the responses you get are mocking comments and outright slurs spat at you.

Now imagine that show never ended.


#64

Well, not exactly on the same page, because while I obviously come from a place of ignorance, I’m never going to learn if I don’t ask and a certain level of required expertise was not established beforehand. That said, I understand why people wouldn’t want to engage any further based on my ignorance, so I won’t desire that of them or think ill of them for not responding or pointing out that my ignorance makes this a useless debate for them.


#65

Snappy or professional, people are not walking avatars of the company they work for at all times. Talking about your job off the clock, providing answers to questions or insight or a even a sarcastic reply should not require the risk of imperiling you or your family. Game devs need a union, but so do we all, because it shouldn’t be possible to risk one’s health and well-being with a roughly harmless twitter comment, no matter how snarky.

Easy to talk about slippery slopes and to think of examples of when maybe you would want to get someone else fired because of some bullshit they said. But that slope isn’t even approached in this case, when she had every reason to believe she could continue publicly being the person they hired. Gamer entitlement is certainly a problem, but even more than that, no company will ever voluntarily place your health, wealth, safety, family, etc. above its own bottom line because that’s how they were designed to function. Organization and withholding of the labor that enriches employers in the first place is the only way to reason with them.


#66

I understand. I don’t know anyone personally for whom twitter is important from a business perspective. I can understand that makes it hard to not constantly engage with the platform.

In addition, the whole idea of the entitled fan is a bit alien to me. Again, I don’t really know people who are like that, nor have I engaged with them in real life. And as for myself, I’m a top tier patreon for NoClip, but I don’t feel the need to engage with Danny or influence the content he’s making. I just want him to keep making his stuff. Of course, not everybody thinks that way and I can see how it can be hard to deal with all the fans telling you how to do stuff and keep them supporting you without pointing out that they’re also being obnoxious and ignorant.


#68

I’ll put it this way, Tyler Blevins (Ninja on twitch) had 250k paying subscribers, not followers the day before e3 2018. He left and didn’t stream so he could attend the show. 2 days later he had 210k subscribers. That’s still a lot but he lost nearly a fifth of his paying base because he didn’t stream for 48 hours. There is a constant demand for content and interaction by fans and it’s insatiable. Someone (I think from giant bomb but I’m not sure) was tweeting about this last year, where there’s a very specific level of famous where you have to be on social media for your job but it’s extremely exhausting and you definitely aren’t large enough to just ignore it.

And it’s rough because when big personalities do community interaction positively it feels really good. A riot dev soliciting ideas for a League of Legends champion rework and saying he thought my idea was good enough to test felt awesome. But when it goes negatively it’s a massive emotional toll on people who can’t just step away from it.


#69

I get it. It’s just a state I can’t wrap my head around. I tend to shut down when I snap, I don’t attack. Also, in my view, snapping on a stage in front of a live audience is something else than snapping in front of an audience that is not present and not live. You don’t have to act right away in the latter case. You have time to prepare. But I think I overestimated the amount of time you have to recuperate when social media communication is something you constantly have to do. When it is part of your job or your life in some other way, it’s harder to just walk away from it and shrug.

Edit: I shouldn’t have said social media. I wanted to keep the focus on twitter, but your point still applies.


#70

While we appreciate contribution and different perspectives, we also remind everyone that the forums are a place for discussion, which implies some knowledge of the subject. We also want everyone to pay attention to rule 1, about having to justify experiences, and the code of conduct in regards to detailing conversations. If you feel you do not have the knowledge base to contribute to a discussion, the forums are a great place to sit back and observe, but maybe not participate.


#71

Fair point, but that first part relates to twitch. I didn’t intend to broaden this to social media in general, because that would include streaming services which rely on actually being physically present and visible. The specific thing that interested me is that people respond passionately in a context that gives them the opportunity to not respond immediately.

Still, your point is clear and can also be applied to twitter. I clearly underestimated the pressure the platform can put on you when it is part of your job and/or personal life in a significant way. I’ll stop now, because I get the feeling that moderator comment is implicitly aimed at me. :wink:

Sorry for bothering everyone. I’ll learn how to handle these forums eventually.


#72

GB was my major games-related hangout when GG popped off, and it took them a solid week to say anything of significance about it, and this was after some push back on the forums by the community. I do remember Alex Navarro going off about it on his Twitter feed, but as far as an “official” response, “don’t be assholes” was the extent of it, as far as I remember.


#73

I think there was eventually a statement on the site about it. But damned if I can find it at this point.


#74

This is the official statement from Jeff and the staff about the Gamer Gate stuff


#75

A new article from the Verge. They even talked to some (anonymous) ANet employees about what has been going on internally since then.

Probably the most informative article yet.


#76

Oh there definitely was a statement- I just remember it being a bit tepid both in content and in timing.


#77

It’s so frustrating to me that so much of the conversation outside of these forums, even places like Resetera, are so focused on relitigating whether or not Price should’ve been fired that O’Brien and ArenaNet’s role in all this is being minimized or outright ignored. Very few seem to want to give her any benefit of the doubt.


#78

I think, having seen the resetera thread and a lot of internet reaction even from those who claim they are all for inclusiveness and accessibility along with reading the article on the Verge. It feels like there’s two lines of toxic behaviour emerging. One you have the grognards who want to push minority voices out of their fiefdom like we had with The Last Jedi recently and one that has gone on since gamer gate started (And wrote the playbook).

But another toxic line from people who, while not horrible in terms of trying to push minorities out, still feel like they are the gatekeepers of the medium and the enlightened because they are a part of every “Pro-Consumer” movement and the first to cry foul whenever a publisher and developer does something they don’t like in running a business. They feel developers and publishers should be completely subservient to them, Constantly polite and willing to engage with every suggested change. The same sort of people who cry foul when FIFA sells a bucketload compared to whatever AAA darling they like “Deserves” to sell more because FIFA is popular and upset customers not occupying that hardcore space are engaging with things like progression passes. And they have toxic mentality cheerleaders like Jim Sterling and YongYea pushing this narrative that “the customer is always right 100% of the time” to its biggest and most obnoxious forms. Sort of like the horrible customer in a fast food joint waiting to jump on some young and inexperienced staff member disciplined for getting their order wrong and who feel entitled to it because they are spending money. Vis a vis, you have the same problem with gaming, whatever price the game is. The hardcore audience feels like they should be the center of attention during development and in post launch because they paid money when the contract is really just “You pays your money. You get your game license”

“Pro-Consumer” Youtubers have been training people on it for years where they don’t outright say it but nudge their viewers to send relentless abuse till they get what they want. Price saying the equivalent of “Cool Story, Bro” rankled not just because she is a woman. But she’s supposed to be a subservient game developer who must answer every question in a positive light and textually fellate the consumer for being so smart for thinking of something they didn’t. Especially when the person is a sponsored community representative who obviously must know better than the developers themselves that branching dialogue is so easy cause another MMORPG did it. It’s a line of thinking creates a warped sense of precieved ownership of a game. Way more than the developer. And that’s why we’re seeing forums and people who you would think would condemn the firings start to side with the publisher. They are treating developers like they are there to serve their ideals rather than executing an artistic vision or simulation. But because it’s a more latent, insidious form of toxic gamer culture. We’re not talking about that as much. Especially when the more outward hatred of women and minorities are grabbing headlines (And for very good reasons because that is absolutely unacceptable and should be the lead on this)

So we have these two different strains. One is easy to talk about because its plain abuse and absolutely must be stopped. But we have a second, way more difficult line because it’s the current line of “Pro consumer” thinking. Send relentless abuse till publishers or devs fold to the demands. And that leads into a bigger problem when a publisher does fold and the way more toxic side starts jumping on every single aspect of a game like after Bioware changed the ending of Mass Effect 3. Did it stop the abuse towards Bioware and its staff? Nope. Dragon Age: Inquisition was met with the same. Mass Effect Andromeda was met with the same even before the development issues became apparent and we’re now seeing the same with Anthem. It’s a never-ending cycle that we need to figure out how to break. No one is above criticism, for sure. But when criticism is so abusive that every developers post has to be defensive or hiding what they really feel because of potential backlash. The culture is in a horrible state and it’s exhausting seeing it every day. Things have to change.


#79

Was just reading an article on RPS about the failure of Lawbreakers. The comments are full of armchair experts, the devs shoulda done this, if they’d made the game like this it would be successful. Makes me empathise with Price losing her cool. I’m sick of all the internet comments reducing complex issues into one liners and I just read them! Couldn’t imagine being on the the receiving end.


#80

That’s a nice follow up article.


#81

Its worth mentioning that the latest Beastcast kind of took the ball and ran with it. Part of the benefits of having two major podcasts a week. Alex, Vinny and Abby led a longer, more emphatic takedown of both arenanet and the ongoing harassment.