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Jessica Price says that ArenaNet “escalated” recent firings in a way that directed mobs towards her

When controversy rolls around, it’s difficult to air all thoughts in a single interview within the limited time frame to prepare beforehand. This is evident for recently fired writer Jessica Price, who has once again taken to Twitter to fully comprise her thoughts towards former employer ArenaNet, calling the developer’s actions “escalation” that actively solicited harassment by directing angry mobs her way.

Below is Price’s collected, unedited Twitter thread:

“Hi, everyone. I’ve got a thing to say and then I’m going back off Twitter for a bit because I’ve had a vacation planned for a while and I intend to take it to the fullest.

Much of the narrative around this has been around 1) that I was fired; and 2) whether there was warning/discussion. That’s missing a big portion of this. So let’s talk about not how I was fired, but how it was announced. The announcement was an escalation. The company could have chosen to say ‘their remarks don’t represent the company, we don’t agree with what they said, and they’re no longer with the company.’

That’s not what they did. They framed an interaction on my personal social media in which I told a few individuals who (I thought) were being assholes that I wasn’t on the clock and wasn’t going to feign affection for people who are being assholes as ‘attacks on the community.’

They knew—or at least had a responsibility to know, in 2018—what would happen to a female game dev who was fired in response to an exchange about sexism. It would have been bad enough if they had just fired me and announced I was fired. But they *escalated.* They pointed to Peter and me as Enemies Of The Community. That wasn’t just firing us and, oh well, if they get harassed, them’s the breaks. That was active solicitation of harassment. And their silence in condemning the harassment is profoundly telling.

There was a fair amount of criticism directed at major game companies in 2014-2015 for not standing up for their female/marginalized employees, but their failure their was passive. None of them *escalated* the harassment of developers in this way. They were aware that I was going to get deluged with threats, harassment, etc. The firing wasn’t the punishment—the use of the mob was. And I’m not sure what they can possibly do to reassure their employees—let alone every other dev in the industry, whose backs they’ve painted targets on–that they won’t use the mob to punish any employee who they feel has gotten too uppity.

Everything you’ve seen of the story so far this season is my work, and you’re going to be seeing my work in it for a long time. A bunch of the content you’ll be seeing is also work led by women: female team and game design leads, female writing leads, female cinematics leads. It’s the best content GW2 has produced. Women in this industry lead, and aren’t going anywhere. (I’m not going to name them because I don’t want to direct the mob at them.)

Anyway, if you’re a dev in this industry, take a very careful look at what ArenaNet has done, and get a guarantee from your management that they’re not going to do it to you.”

This has prompted multiple larger discussions, with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in particular calling for greater clarification on social media guidelines from publishers. IGDA urges employees to start asking questions in order to further protect themselves from similar occurrences here, providing a guideline within its recent blog post.

“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” says the IGDA. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”

Aside from ArenaNet president Mike O’’Brien’s initial statements that Price attacked the community, the developer has stayed notably silent on the matter, refusing to provide a response.

KitGuru Says: There are some things to take away from Price’s statement, I feel. ArenaNet did jump to the harshest of punishments without prior engagement, whether Price was inherently right or wrong, and could have provided greater training alongside a reprimand of some sort. That being said, I still feel that Price surely should have known that calling the community “asshats” was never going to sit well and always be perceived as an attack, if not an inappropriate defence. What do you make of Price’s latest statements?

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