Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet has fired writers Jessica Price and Peter Fries after the pair became involved in a divisive Twitter exchange with streamer Deroir.
As reported by PCGamer, Deroir is partnered with ArenaNet through its content creator program, but got on the wrong side of Price after replying to a Twitter thread she wrote explaining the drawbacks of writing player controlled characters in MMOs.
Price used the thread to specifically shed light on why it's so difficult to make player character in MMOs compelling, especially compared to pre-designed characters in single-player games.
Deroir replied to argue that branching dialogue options might be one way of giving players more ways to imbue their character with personality, and suggested that the issue isn't unique to the MMO genre as Price had initially stated.
Price then highlighted Deroir's response, and claimed his reply was both uninformed and condescending, especially considering her experience as a writer. Fellow scribe Fries defended her stance in a (now deleted) tweet, and claimed she never asked for feedback from Deroir or anyone else.
After seeing her reaction, Deroir apologized for offending Price, and insisted he was only trying to "create dialogue and discussion."
In most cases, that might've been the end of it, but ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien has now dismissed both Price and Fries after describing their tweets as an "attack on the community."
"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," he wrote on the Guild Wars 2 forum.
"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."
Update: Price is concerned about the precedent the terminations set, especially when it comes to the systematic online harassment faced by women in the industry. Sometimes the relationship between players and developers can border on abusive, and more often than not, studios fail to address that toxicity.
“Game companies are generally unwilling to be honest with themselves about how they’re complicit in creating and sustaining that environment,” she tells The Verge.
"Since creatives are perceived as being responsible for the way the game is more than customer support, companies are basically tying up their employees and setting them on the railroad tracks for angry people to run over."
Price also goes on to say she believes her firing was an emotional reaction on the part of ArenaNet co-founder Mike O’Brien. “He fired me personally, and the meeting was mostly him venting his feelings at me,” she explains.
“I understand being afraid when you see the Reddit mob coming for you, but if people with less power can weather it — and we do, regularly — so can he.”
The firings serve as a bleak example for the employees at AreaNet. “The message is very clear, especially to women at the company: if Reddit wants you fired, we’ll fire you,” Price says.
“The quality of your work doesn’t matter. Your personal space, your personal social media, is not yours; you are on the clock 100 percent of the time. We own you. You’re not allowed to be yourself, you’re not allowed to get frustrated, and you’re not allowed to have your own space to breathe."