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Guild Wars developers fired after social media argument roils community

ArenaNet terminates employees who responded to fan on Twitter

Guild Wars 2

Two ArenaNet developers were dismissed this week following a social media blowup between a YouTube content creator and a designer of the developer’s Guild Wars 2 MMO.

Guild Wars 2 narrative designer Jessica Price and writer Peter Fries, a 12-year veteran of ArenaNet, are no longer with the company, following an argument on Twitter this week that seized Guild Wars fans’ attention over Twitter and social media forums. On July 3, a Guild Wars YouTuber and streamer known as Deroir offered a critique of branching dialogue that Price took exception to.

Price had written a lengthy Twitter thread about the differences between writing characters for linear, narrative-driven games like BioShock or Dishonored, and player characters in MMOs like the Guild Wars games. Deroir chimed in to disagree, and Price later called the player out.

Fries, in a handful of since-deleted tweets, came to her defense, arguing that their Twitter accounts were “private” and “she never asked for his feedback.”

The controversy gathered steam over the week along two themes: First being Price calling the criticism of her work a gendered attack (which Deroir denied). Second being developers directly rebuking players of a genre and game where community plays a vital role.

A popular thread on the Guild Wars subreddit accused Price of “publicly attack[ing]” the player “who was simply engaging in a discussion with a professional simply to give insight.”

Guild Wars players also accused Price and Fries on the game’s official forums of acting unprofessionally. Mike O’Brien, president and co-founder of ArenaNet, responded in the thread to announce that Price and Fries’ employment had been terminated.

“Recently two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players,” O’Brien said. “Their attacks on the community were unacceptable. As a result, they’re no longer with the company.

“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.”

While many members of the Guild Wars forums and subreddit applauded the firings, a few called the action by ArenaNet “cowardly” and overly harsh. Other game developers lashed out at ArenaNet on Twitter, saying that the developer didn’t support its employees.

“Here I thought being indie meant I was on-the-clock 24/7,” said Rami Ismail, one half of developer Vlambeer, on Twitter, “but apparently AAA means just that but also being forced to take whatever shit people fling at you because ‘standards of communicating with our community’ and ‘we make the game for you (so feel free to give our devs shit)’.”

“Sad to see a fellow writer pay the price for being human,” said Chet Faliszek, formerly of Valve and now at Bossa Studios. “Companies need to learn, these interactions cost you nothing, you lose no customers, a week later no one remembers. But when you don’t support your employees? The industry is small enough and we all do remember.”

Night in the Woods developer Scott Benson was harsher, calling ArenaNet “cowardly pieces of shit who sell out their workers at the drop of a hat” on Twitter. Others criticized ArenaNet for emboldening aggressiveness and potential retaliation aimed at game developers.

Reached for comment, an ArenaNet spokesperson offered Polygon the following comment: “We are committed to fostering open, constructive dialogue with our community around our games. Earlier this week, two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communication, and they are no longer with the company.”

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