Social media and the power of Guild Wars fans

Social media M

Our lives are an open page...

We now live in a society where pretty much everything is controlled by the internet. From online banking to online shopping, to doing simple researches and giving online tutorials or even having an online job where you type few paragraphs and get paid for that. But there is one thing in common that is shared with the rest of the world- the Internet.

The worldwide web has now gained control of our daily life routine since we wake up till we get back to bed at night. Consequently, people have been brainwashed as a result of the continuous usage of the web. It has become so simple now for a person to post any misleading facts or rumors just to get some attention and most of the people grant them what they wish for and make a fuss about it.

Our world now has turned into some witch-hunting game and the prize is the fame you get. It is really simple to do so, choose a public figure, criticize them and all their actions and post fraud information about their lives then watch all the brainwashed people follow your page. Although most rumors are just lies, some of them may be true and were buried deep down so no one could ever find it. This became so popular now that it is done to game producers. Recently, the well-known Guild Wars game has obtained most of its fame following tweets from one of the members of its narrative team 'Jessica Price’.

Guild Wars for those who are living under a rock, is an online massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), developed by ArenaNet and published by NCSOFT. The game received a massive attention and was well-accepted by the players. It has been nominated to many editor's choice awards and won a considerable amount of them as a result of its’ popularity.

Start with a sacrifice

Jessica Price, one of the narrative designers for the game had been fired by ArenaNet due to a social media controversy between a fan on Twitter. Following a thread that she posted about the differences in writing characters for linear, narrative-driven games and player characters in MMO’s, a die-hard fan of the game by the name of Deroir- decided to add his comment and ‘slightly' disagreed with what she said. Later on, Jessica replied sharply to the comment in a typical millennial social warrior attitude- saying that he shouldn’t explain to her how she does her job even though he is not working with her. In a follow up retweet of the same comment, she even added that the next asshat who tries explaining the idea of branching dialogues with her will instantly get blocked.

Reddit again- We didn’t start the fire….

The posted tweets were pretty much random chatter (and would largely have gone unnoticed), until Deroir; and his minions, took an otherwise bland rant from a Twitter post to another level when they started attacking Miss Jessica on SubReddit threads dedicated to Guild Wars 2 topics. Driven by their YouTube video streaming master- the outrageous mini army of Deroir kept spreading the word; driven by a mainstream mentality, and to question a woman in a position of character development- would not give her a chance to speak up until it was noticed by ArenaNet executives. It seems that one comment from an entitled millennial, Jessica, ignited the spark that turned into a witch-hunt by Deroir and his followers who quickly rallied against Jessica simply for her reaction, and were further fueled when Jessica sub tweeted something with the term ‘RandoAsshat' thrown in there. Despite her being a bit harsh and unprofessional, this witch-hunt could be now driven by all intentions of social media response simply through the ‘snowball’ effect. The final result: Jessica was flat out fired- without even getting the chance to explain her situation to the company or to the fans in general.

Collateral damage ensues

While GW2 fans continued to condemn Jessica Price, an effort by Mike O'Brien ‘ArenaNet's co-founder and President’- announced the firings of Price and her colleague Peter Fries to all Guild Wars 2 fans. This announcement was met with much applause from the fan-led community, yet game developers and those who work in the game industry strongly condemned the action. The statement itself concluded the reasons for dismissal- terming the online remarks as being ‘sarcastic’ and perceived them as ‘attacks leveled on the community’. He further said that they ‘set a chilling effect’ on fan engagement. Even though it was never mentioned- their expectations of every employee would have been to behave professionally whether at work or in their free time. It was expected that the employees not engage with fans with any kind of critical comments, but instead take the issue to the company where they would have done everything to protect them. ‘Price’ on the other hand- found that her firing would set a whole new precedent for other developers in the gaming industry- especially women! She stated that if a public internet forum like “Reddit” wanted someone fired, then they would get fired. The move could only serve to embolden harassers even further. It seems that ArenaNet could be influenced from the outside by mere fans and players with a grudge, which was not necessarily related to the work Price did on GW2. An online game fan from the SubReddit Guild Wars 2 thread had openly gloated that they could get game developers fired at will. This has further led the very same game developers to seek out some form of unionization with other industry professionals in order to prevent similar actions online caused by viral hate posts.

The Price is right?..

Price's tweets were obviously addressing the broader reality of being a female game developer. However in interviews after her firing her argue point was that females in that line of work were frequently bombarded with criticism, which was not the case for men. And that women were also held to an unspoken standard that required them to be silent and play nice. Thus resulting for the reason why ArenaNet's action to fire Price and one other (Peter Fries), who gave his support of the post. It would seem that outspoken women developers are not safe from Twitter users who seek to bring them down for voicing their opinions. On the other hand- now it also seems that Jessica is also no stranger to social justice issues, and was strongly supported by many female groups as a result of this online debacle. One of those issues brought up by a selective feminist group included the expression: ‘Mansplaining’ -which was used to bolster the infamous reply tweet from Deroir. Once again this was a move to discredit her as much as possible since this form of online harassment has no apparent chosen sides.

So the question remains, is Jessica a scapegoat or a sacrificial lamb?

Not only has it exposed the lack of proper dialog to address these sorts of problems with interactions between developers and the game community, it really just shows that the game companies who should be supporting their staff, simply throw them to the wolves after public opinion has already disgraced the company. Game companies do protect their staff, however in the case of publicly handling game narratives and character development openly online through a public chatboard, clearly shows that Jessica did not represent the company well at all. Her rant painted a picture for how characters are developed as empty and bland as the movie: “Twilight” lead character are. Thus allowing gamers to fill-in the banks with their own expectations of what ‘they’ think the character should be. As for the tweets she responded improperly with after the fact, caused angered fans to take it right to a bigger public forum (like many online trolls will do) and destroy her character online through an endless string of vicious attacks. Now that she’s openly been executed by the gaming community, even her social justice warrior buddies have thrown her under the bus. So much so that even the name Jessica Price is now a gamer posterchild meme for all things GW2 related.