The Independent Game Developers Association has called for studios to publish "transparent and well-understood guidelines for staff members" with regards to social media use. This follows the recent dismissal of two Guild Wars 2 writers by ArenaNet following a heated Twitter exchange with a partnered streamer.
In a blog post, IGDA executive director Jen Maclean spoke of the perks and pitfalls of customer-facing social media interaction, and called for better defined and better understood practices to protect employees.
"Two ArenaNet employees were recently fired because of their interactions with community members on social media. This incident makes very clear the perils of social media for game developers, especially when transparent and well-understood guidelines for staff members are not in place," says Maclean. "Often, game developers love engaging with their player base, and the interactions can be very helpful for both the developers and players.
"However, without clear information from an employer on social media use, interacting with people as a game developer can jeopardize someone’s job and career, and even their personal safety. The IGDA strongly encourages its members, both as individuals and as studios and partners, to clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts.
"Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities. 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."
Maclean explains that with "generous assistance from IGDA community members", the IGDA has arrived at an "initial list" of questions it expects game developers to ask, and every company should address, before chatting with players on social media.
20 questions are divided into five subheadings—which includes 'What are the rules for staff about engaging in company-controlled online spaces?' and 'What will the company do to protect its talent from internet harassment mobs?'—the sum of which can be read here.