Many writers I meet at university have an interest in writing interactive narratives. Some of them even aspire to one day write for AAA videogame developers. Unfortunately game developers are often forced to work under some pretty hostile conditions, with little in the way of remuneration or even acknowledgement to make up for it.
This article in Overland covers a recent HR incident for ArenaNet, the Guild Wars developers. It’s written by Brendan Keogh who is a respected and prolific videogames commentator. The articles goes over the incident in greater detail, but a brief summary is:
- ArenaNet Narrative Designer Jessica Price posts 29-tweet thread dissecting challenges of writing player characters in an MMO (posted to her personal account).
- Streamer Deroir replies with tweet below (including Price’s response):
- Price goes on to tweet “Like, the next rando asshat who attempts to explain the concept of branching dialogue to me — as if, you know, having worked in game narrative for a fucking DECADE, I have never heard of it — is getting instablocked.”
- Reddit wades in and Price is subjected to harassment (hate speech, abuse, etc.) as well as reported to her employers for abusive behaviour.
- ArenaNet fires Price along with one of her coworkers who weighed in on the issue in her defence.
Of course there’s so much to unpack here, and I recommend you check out the Overland article and some of the sources I’ve linked below to get a better idea of what’s going on.
But what do people think? Is ArenaNet’s firing of Jessica Price an appropriate response to a HR problem, or a PR stunt? What level of support should developers expect from their managers, and are current industry practices fair?