Update #2: Price explained the context of this incident and her stance on it in an email to Kotaku (opens in new tab). Regarding her response to Deroir's initial reply, she said:
“By the time that guy came along, I was so tired of having random people explain my job to me in company spaces where I had to just smile and nod that it was like, ‘No. Not here. Not in my space.'"
She also discussed the chilling effect this may have on other ArenaNet employees:
“The message is very clear, especially to women at the company: if Reddit wants you fired, we’ll fire you,” she told Kotaku. “Get out there and make sure the players have a good time. And make sure you smile while they hit you.”
Additionally, in a statement to The Verge (opens in new tab), Price commented on how she was treated at ArenaNet, saying that her outspoken social media habits were well-known and, until this incident, never a problem.
According to Price, during her initial interview with ArenaNet she explained that she was "loud about these issues on social media and had no intention of shutting up." At the time, she says ArenaNet "reassured [her] that they 'admired [her] willingness to speak truth to power.'"
Price also commented on how ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien handled the situation internally:
“He fired me personally, and the meeting was mostly him venting his feelings at me,” she told The Verge. “I understand being afraid when you see the Reddit mob coming for you, but if people with less power can weather it—and we do, regularly—so can he.”
Update #1: ArenaNet detailed its stance in a statement to Eurogamer (opens in new tab). It says:
"We strive to cultivate an atmosphere of transparency around the making of our games and encourage our teams to be involved in open, positive discussion with our community. Earlier this week, two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communication with our players and fans, and they are no longer with the company."
Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet recently parted ways with writers Jessica Price and Peter Fries, who were involved in a contentious Twitter discussion with Guild Wars 2 Twitch streamer and YouTuber Deroir (opens in new tab), who is also partnered with ArenaNet through its content creator program (opens in new tab).
On Tuesday, July 3, Price wrote a lengthy Twitter thread (opens in new tab) about writing for MMOs, particularly Guild Wars 2, and why player characters are uniquely difficult to write compared to protagonists in singleplayer games. To put it simply, she discussed how to give characters personality in a way that also leaves room for players to create their own character. In a reply to Price's thread (opens in new tab), Deroir argued that branching dialogue options could give players more ways to define their character's personality, overcome the MMO-specific constraints Price discussed, and improve the roleplaying potential of Guild Wars 2.
Yesterday Price highlighted Deroir's reply in a series of tweets suggesting he was uninformed and that his reply was condescending.
Today in being a female game dev:"Allow me--a person who does not work with you--explain to you how you do your job." https://t.co/lmK0yJWqGBJuly 4, 2018
Among those tweets, the one that's drawn the most ire, particularly on the Guild Wars 2 subreddit (opens in new tab), is Price's remark (opens in new tab) about "rando asshats" talking down to experienced writers and developers.
Responding to the mounting criticism of these tweets, Peter Fries defended Price's position in a now-deleted tweet which is archived here (opens in new tab), saying "she never asked for [Deroir's] feedback".
For his part, Deroir said (opens in new tab) that he "meant no disrespect" and simply wanted to create "dialogue and discussion" with Price. He also apologized (opens in new tab) for any offense his argument may have caused.
In a post to the Guild Wars 2 forums (opens in new tab), in a thread explicitly about Price and Fries' tweets, ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien characterized the statements as "attacks on the community," saying "two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players" and that those employees are "no longer with the company." O'Brien also said "the statements they made do not reflect the views of ArenaNet at all."
It's no grand secret that game developers, especially women, are regularly targeted by fans who want to lash out, condescend or place blame, to say nothing of the insults, threats and other toxicity routinely hurled their way. That being said, this incident was not on the level of the harassment maelstroms we've seen in the past. A developer explained their writing philosophy, a partnered content creator offered feedback, and that developer responded somewhat rudely. Ordinarily that would be the end of it, perhaps followed by a round of apologies or someone stepping away from their role temporarily, but in this case ArenaNet felt the need to immediately fire the employees involved.