ArenaNet Firings Embolden Harrassment Mobs and Prompts Response from Game Workers Unite

In the wake of the ArenaNet firings of Jessica Price and Peter Fries from Guild Wars 2, many were concerned that the move from president Mike O’Brien would empower others to attempt to pressure companies to fire employees. Turns out, at least in a few cases, the tactic is already being attempted.

arenanet firings

At least a couple of attempts by gaming communities to force out particular employees – both of whom are female – are being reported by games industry professionals on Twitter. One account has said that a female friend’s employers are getting “a bunch of form letters demanding they be fired, except they f**ked up and a bunch of them just said ‘%FEMALENAME’.”

Another by the name of Jennifer Scheurle, a game design lead at VR gaming and NASA training company Opaque Space, has shared her own targeting in a screencapped Twitter direct message, which claims she’s “using her twitter account to spread group/gender hating ideals especially towards men.”

“Jessica Price’s and her firing from ArenaNet have serious consequences beyond just one company and instead spread like poison through our entire industry,” tweeted Scheurle.

In Scheurle’s case, at least, Opaque Space made their stance on the matter incredibly clear in a statement, calling out the attempts to pile on female devs and other diverse members of the studio.

“We as a studio want to make it very clear that we always stand behind our developers and support them both online and offline. We do not view the discourse around tackling the challenges faced by the games industry, especially the many diverse professionals that work within it, as being ‘hate speech’.”

Guild Wars 2

The firings have also prompted a statement from Game Workers Unite, a group that seeks to bring union protections to games industry professionals. In the statement, GWU called out O’Brien’s actions as “unethical” and noted the “chilling effect across the industry” that the firings have had.

“ArenaNet’s actions contribute to normalizing a work environment in which employees’ personal social media accounts are monitored, where they are expected to perform PR for their company outside of working hours (with no compensation whatsoever, regardless of whether or not it is part of their job description) and where they can be arbitrarily fired with no warning.

“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to.”

Our Thoughts

Discounting who was right and wrong in the initial Twitter exchange from the whole thing, it’s very clear that the move by ArenaNet has seen fit to strengthen the efforts of some of gaming’s worst examples of “fans”. We applaud companies like Opaque Space in their response to the attempted firing pressure and hope other game companies will follow suit, further outlining their own social media policies in a clear and concise way.

Sources: Twitter 1, 2, 3, Game Workers Unite via Massively Overpowered

Related: , , , , , ,

About Chris Hughes

Chris is a literal wolf who has managed to learn how to use a computer. He enjoys cooking, roleplaying, writing, and reading those who do the same. You can find him staring at Twitter or read more of his attempt at humor at his blog, or in-game primarily on WildStar, Blade and Soul or Final Fantasy XIV.