‘No. Not here. Not in my space,’” she said.
July 11, 2018 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Inside the Guild Wars 2 meeting that’s shaken gaming [Polygon] “Jessica Price, who was fired by ArenaNet last week for arguing with fans of the company’s Guild Wars 2 MMO, said she feels betrayed by how the company “folded like a cheap card table” when confronted by toxic fandom. In an interview with Polygon, she talked about the meeting in which she was fired, and castigated ArenaNet managers for their “highly unprofessional” reaction to a social media controversy.”
“Until last week, Price worked as a narrative designer on Guild Wars 2. Earlier this month, she wrote a lengthy Twitter thread about the differences between writing characters for linear, narrative-driven games and player characters in MMOs. A prominent Guild Wars 2 streamer and YouTube known as Deroir chimed in to disagree. Price later called Deroir out, tweeting: “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.’” The tweet — and a follow-up in which she said, “the next rando asshat who attempts to explain the concept of branching dialogue to me ... is getting instablocked” — triggered a fierce thread on the Guild Wars subreddit. [...] Price’s bosses, it turned out, agreed with the angry fans. Price was called into a meeting with a manager from the narrative department, a human resources person and ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien.

“I was given no opportunity to argue my case,” she said. “My manager was on vacation. [O’Brien] spent some time insisting that developers must be friends with the company’s customers, and that it was unacceptable to say that we aren’t, even when we’re not on the clock. He told me I’d look back and regret this, because we were doing great work and I’d ruined it. “The whole thing was highly unprofessional,” she continued. “There was zero reason for him to be there. He wanted to vent his anger, and he had the power to command a woman to stand there while he took his feelings out on her, so he did. Then he walked out, [the manager] got my stuff from my desk and the HR person asked for my key card.””
• Fired ArenaNet dev calls dismissal 'an active solicitation of harassment' [PC Gamer]
Here's Price's unedited statement, collected from Twitter for easier reading:

“"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. You can respond if you want, but I've got any notifications from people I don't follow muted, and I'm not going to check responses. If you're a legit industry/press person and want to get in contact, we have mutual networks through which you can do that.

Here's the thing you should be noting if you're a game dev:

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.”
• Guild Wars 2's ArenaNet is telling women to sit down and shut up [The OP]
“It's easy to see how this kind of interruption can play out in online spaces like Twitter. Don't like what a woman in game development has to say? Go ahead and dump your opinion on her timeline. Then throw in some criticism about her work while you're at it. "Dictating someone's job to them is not something anyone has to listen to," Wired's Julie Muncy tweeted earlier today. " Personal Twitters are not the place for professional feedback. If you came to my door and very politely told me how to do my job, still being a dick there."

The patronizing of Price is extremely common. The Verge's Laura Hudson said a man once explained the VR game SuperHypercube to her despite writing a New York Times article on the game. And in a 2015 interview with CGTN America, Kotaku's Maddy Myers said she was "treated as though I didn't know anything about games," concluding that the men in games are "very condescending and treat women like they don't belong there." Case in point, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has denied that mainsplaining even exists, arguing it's an "inherently sexist term" that is "designed to oppress men." Meanwhile, men aren't expected to sit down, shut up, and listen to gamers dictate their perspective on the gaming industry at all. Never mind face unemployment for it.”
• ArenaNet Fires Two Guild Wars 2 Writers Over Tweets, Sending a Bad Message to Designers and Consumers [Paste Magazine]
“This kind of unsolicited drive-by advice happens all the time to women on social media, especially ones working in the games and tech space. It’s a form of sexism because it’s predicated on the belief that a man with experience as a consumer of a medium knows more than a woman who is a professional working in that medium. Even if that’s not the conscious intent of tweets like the ones Deroir wrote, it’s hard for women to read it any other way, since it happens to them, again, all the time. If you have any friends in games or tech who are women, ask them about it, and you’re almost guaranteed to hear the same story about random dudes who think they can tell them how to do their jobs. That’s what Deroir did here, and it’s disrespectful, and so Price responded in a way that’s appropriate.

So Price was outspoken in defending herself from a Twitter user’s sexism (no matter how unintentional it might’ve been), and Fries vocally supported her, and as a result both lost their job. Sure, that’s ArenaNet’s decision to make, but it’s a really bad one, for a number of reasons. Not only does it punish Price for standing up for herself, and Fries for defending a coworker, effectively telling women that they have to worry about speaking out against sexism when they encounter it. It also emboldens ArenaNet’s most vocal critics, the players who threatened to stop supporting the game if the company didn’t give in to their demands and fire two employees over something that shouldn’t even be seen as an offense, much less a fireable one.”
posted by Fizz (167 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ugh.
posted by Fizz at 3:05 PM on July 11 [28 favorites]


We can probably fire anyone on the GW2 dev team as long as we make a big enough stink. Nobody at Arenanet is safe from the hand of reddit. We're literally running the company now, they're in fear of the very users they seek to consort with... The moment a dev steps out of line or try to talk back to a player, guess what, they'll know we got their hands on their throat and we can squeeze any time we like.

It's almost like the industry saw these exact same asshats doing the same thing targeting other women years before and thought they could just look the other way and let it die down rather than challenge their complicity in this.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:20 PM on July 11 [32 favorites]


As I saw this go down on twitter, I literally thought "I hope to God Fizz does a post on this shit."

One thing that happened after ArenaNet fired those two women was that multiple other gaming companies started getting a metric fuckton of complaints about *their* female developers. Examples were being posted a mile a minute yesterday on Twitter.
posted by absalom at 3:24 PM on July 11 [60 favorites]


I love playing video games but I hate certain aspects of this god damn industry so fucking much. I avoid using that term "gamer" because of the connotations it carries. Fuck these bros and their fucking gamergate backwards ass troll mentality.

I'm glad she stood up and didn't take shit. I hate that she was fired along with someone who decided to do the right thing and call this kind of toxic shit out when they see it. Putting this post together made me feel ill. But it felt necessary because we need to shed light on this type of bullshit and we need to vote with our dollars. We need to make it known that this kind of shit is not acceptable and that it won't be supported by people who enjoy gaming and the good people that make them (people of colour, women, trans people, queer people, regular hard working people who lift up their co-workers and celebrate achievement).

I'll stop now. But this is me trying to find some light in this darkness.
posted by Fizz at 3:25 PM on July 11 [87 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I've seen some references to Price and her firing recently and didn't know what they were about. I had my suspicions... and they were confirmed. Seconding Fizz's "Ugh."

Fandom is garbage. It should be burned to the ground.
posted by brundlefly at 3:25 PM on July 11 [15 favorites]


As gross as the actions of ArenaNet's president was, I can see a lot of other game companies doing the same thing. Looking at the issue in isolation and pretending the constant harassment of female devs is not a thing, treating their employees as FT mouthpieces for the company but only when it's (in)convenience, and then firing them when the toxic horde turns against them. Especially a company that publishes MMOs. But the directness of how he did it, the speed with which he did it, and the nearly begging for forgiveness from his company's most vile "fans" was shocking. This wasn't something orchestrated by PR and HR - this was done over a holiday. This was a president either panicked by the next gen of GGers' attention or someone who at his heart shares their rotten values.

Why would anyone - any woman, any PoC, any ally - want to work for a company like that? I regret ever spending money on any of their games and will never do so again.
posted by thecjm at 3:28 PM on July 11 [35 favorites]


I think game companies and game review sites should require all their developers/reviewers to use female nom de plumes online for a year (at least), just to see first hand how toxic some of their fans are.
posted by fings at 3:31 PM on July 11 [108 favorites]


someone who at his heart shares their rotten values.

Ding ding ding.
posted by tavella at 3:49 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


Hot-damn this list of shit I am boycotting is getting a bit unwieldy, I'm gonna need to set up a spreadsheet or something.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:53 PM on July 11 [19 favorites]


One thing that happened after ArenaNet fired those two women

If you're talking about the firing of Peter Fries, that's a dude..
posted by Pendragon at 3:53 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Two self-links, as someone who runs a games company!

Jessica Price Shouldn't Have Been Fired
I kept looking for the other tweets that included these supposed “attacks” on the community. Surely there had to be something worse than “asshat”? Surely Price must have said something really bad, like “I hate every single one of our shithead players and I hope they never play our game again”?

But no, apparently “asshat” was outrageous enough to give the vapours to parts of the gaming community, whom we all know abhor all use of curse words.
Injured Sovereigns, Foucault, and Jessica Price
In a time of monarchy, where all laws are determined by a sovereign (here termed the prince or the king), any crime cannot merely be considered as an attack on the immediate victim; not merely an attack on the order and control of the sovereign; but in fact an attack on the sovereign himself. Such an attack demands redress and punishment.

In our case, who is the sovereign? The most obvious answer is ArenaNet, Price’s employer, which alone sets the conditions of her employment, and has the unique power to terminate her employment at will. Yes, one may argue that some harm has been done to the honour of Deroir, and one may even argue (although I would not agree) that some modicum of harm has been done to the sovereign – but not that much. We are talking about a few supposedly rude tweets.

So why the termination? Disorder has been introduced to the land. That is the true crime, the considerable injury that eclipses the mild sting of the tweets themselves, and so it requires immense revenge for the contempt it shows to the sovereign, ArenaNet. Contempt may easily turn into insurrection – unionisation – turmoil – bankruptcy.
The first link attracted dozens of comments and tweets - some quite abusive - within just 24 hours, from people presumably searching for "jessica price" on Google and Twitter, looking to pick a fight. It's by far my blog's most popular post this year, and not for good reasons. I am deeply disturbed about what this whole debacle portents for (some) people's views about how the Customer Is Always Right, and how Corporations Deserve Absolute Power.
posted by adrianhon at 4:01 PM on July 11 [58 favorites]


I'll say one more thing: I'd be lying I wasn't a little bit afraid of harassment and harm to my livelihood, my business, and by extension, my employees, because I posted this.

WHICH IS EXACTLY WANT THEY WANT! Fuck everything about this.
posted by adrianhon at 4:02 PM on July 11 [56 favorites]


Whatever you, don't listen to Notch.
posted by Sphinx at 4:06 PM on July 11 [31 favorites]


In the future, I believe Gamer Gate folks will have a lot to answer for. Right now they remain emboldened, because of Trump, the MRAs, the Nazis, the Russians, and all the other groups that've rallied under hate and regressive politics. It's one of the reasons I've left all the gaming communities I've joined. Too many entitled, vocal, rude, unethical men sour the mix. Would that we had had a minecraft developed by someone other than yet another (rich) fedora wearer.
posted by kalessin at 4:10 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Sphinx: That's an evergreen comment right there.
posted by SansPoint at 4:12 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


I'm not seeing much recognition that ArenaNet is owned by NCsoft, a South Korean company whose executives probably have an entirely different experience of public relations and gender issues in the workplace compared to their US counterparts. Doesn't that seem relevant?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:14 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a former employee of ArenaNet, NCSoft wasn't usually involved in day-to-day studio operations while I was there, and I would be extremely surprised if they had anything at all to do with this decision.
posted by Four String Riot at 4:24 PM on July 11 [16 favorites]


I suspect it's not very relevant here. One of the many appalling things about this appalling story is that this was apparently a personal decision taken by Mike O'Brien over a public holiday, ignoring any kind of due process or natural justice for workplace dismissal (and labour laws throughout the developed world with few notable exceptions). It doesn't seem, from what we currently know, like any Korean angle is very significant, if at all.
posted by howfar at 4:25 PM on July 11 [12 favorites]


I'm sorry that these people are so afraid of the wimmins.
posted by Docrailgun at 4:26 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I don't think "fear of women" is the best way to characterise this. These fuckers are frightened of losing their power to abuse women, not of women per se. Hopefully they will be more afraid of women in the near future, because respect, or even basic nonaggression, is apparently far too much to ask.
posted by howfar at 4:30 PM on July 11 [51 favorites]


These fuckers are frightened of doing the right thing because so much of it is also bound up in money and power. They cater to this gamergate asshole fanbase because sadly that group has a significant purchasing power and they know this. They CHOOSE money/power and assholery over doing the right thing. It's bullshit and fuck them for it.
posted by Fizz at 4:35 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


A single-player game is as good as the designers can make it.

A multi-player game is as good as the most aggravating player in the game lets it be.
posted by delfin at 4:45 PM on July 11 [35 favorites]


Fandom is garbage. It should be burned to the ground.

As with pretty much all other problems of this nature, the issue isn't fandom. It's male entitlement, a literal cancer on human society.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:46 PM on July 11 [98 favorites]


Fizz: Here’s the thing, I don’t think the vast majority of people who play video games (half of whom are now women) gave a shit about this sort of thing. The problem is that the GGers are so fired up and vocal and harassing that they seem more influential than they really are.
posted by adrianhon at 4:47 PM on July 11 [22 favorites]


They cater to this gamergate asshole fanbase because sadly that group has a significant purchasing power

I mean they have some purchasing power sure, but the effect on current employee morale and difficulty in attracting new hires must make for a net negative given the long view, no? It's not somehow more bullshit because it's also a bad business decision, but I'd argue it is a bad business decision.
posted by juv3nal at 4:47 PM on July 11 [7 favorites]


I almost wish that I was a customer of this sort of game so I could meaningfully boycott them, but fuck those cowards anyway.
posted by rodlymight at 4:48 PM on July 11 [7 favorites]


They cater to this gamergate asshole fanbase because sadly that group has a significant purchasing power and they know this. They CHOOSE money/power and assholery over doing the right thing.

Is it also possible that they (i.e.: the people in charge) are sometimes not exactly afraid of Gamergaters but rather sympathetic to them, if not practically on their side? From the way O'Brien apparently handled this whole thing -- right down to diminishing Price's contributions -- sure makes him look like a bit GG-adjacent himself.
posted by mhum at 4:49 PM on July 11 [24 favorites]


I guess I'm just sad that something I love so much has become so toxic and infected. I truly love video games, they bring me so much joy. But there's this ugly side that is just making it harder and harder for me to enjoy these things because I know that I'm also supplementing and supporting an industry that does not value certain segments of society. I try to vote with my dollars, I try to draw attention to these types of issues (it's one reason I have posted so many posts about gaming, women, gamergate, PoC, LGBTQ,etc). But I feel like we're losing. It's very frustrating. I should step back. Sorry if I'm a bit fired up and all potty-mouthed with my comments.
posted by Fizz at 4:56 PM on July 11 [20 favorites]


My list of companies to never buy stuff from keeps growing: Stardock (obviously), Realmforge (this is borderline, but I don't feel comfortable buying Dungeon 2, as much as it looks like the perfect game for me, given the gamergate endorsing jokes in it) and now AreaNet. If companies keep this up, it will help keep down my video game budget.

Also, fuck these dipshits. This just emboldens the harassers. Come on people, you know the drill, you do not negotiate with terrorists. You do not pay off highjackers. You don't reward harassers.
posted by Hactar at 5:03 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]



Hot-damn this list of shit I am boycotting is getting a bit unwieldy, I'm gonna need to set up a spreadsheet or something.
.. you could make a story-driven game out of it?
posted by DoubtingThomas at 5:09 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


The problem is that the GGers are so fired up and vocal and harassing that they seem more influential than they really are.

Reminds me of John Oliver's segment about the NRA. It's not just about numbers, it's about how vocal and passionate people are. Most gamers (like myself) just want to play games, we don't ever interact with the game companies or designers or whatever. The GG'ers are super vocal. A small group of such people can have a big influence even when general opinion is against them.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:10 PM on July 11 [19 favorites]


.. that was a little glib, apologies. I realize this is an important, and timely, topic.
posted by DoubtingThomas at 5:11 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


When people talked about the toxic legacy that John Bain left, this was what they meant.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:11 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


I don't think "fear of women" is the best way to characterise this. These fuckers are frightened of losing their power to abuse women, not of women per se.

whynotboth.gif
posted by Gorgik at 5:12 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I watched this going down on the GW2 subreddit, and it was a classic brigading scenario. New posts going up on a regular schedule, all with the same talking points. Posts barely fifteen minutes old with hundreds of upvotes and dozens of comments. Even on a busy subreddit like GW2's, that shit just doesn't happen organically.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:12 PM on July 11 [15 favorites]


My list of companies to never buy stuff from keeps growing: Stardock (obviously)

Stardock? What's wrong with Stardock?

Oh. Their CEO wishes to inform his employees that "I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you need to find another job...I'm not some manager or coworker of yours. I own the company. It, and your job there, exist to suit my purposes, not vice versa."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:14 PM on July 11 [23 favorites]


Yeah, Brad Wardell is the living incarnation of everything wrong with this industry.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:15 PM on July 11 [18 favorites]


One dynamic I've been thinking about is streaming has in a sense incentivized personality cults. Like, it wasn't some random Joe it was a Streamer, and as such is Champion of the Gamers and any insult to him is an insult to The Gamer Community.

And also Price had earlier said things about Total Biscuit when he had died, so some of his acolytes were still looking for any reason to go after her again.
posted by RobotHero at 5:18 PM on July 11 [12 favorites]


A single-player game is as good as the designers can make it.

A multi-player game is as good as the most aggravating player in the game lets it be.


And, as it turns out, life in the connected era is a multi-player game.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:18 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


Deroir didn't "chime in to disagree" - he mansplained video game writing to a fucking video game writer and negged her writing at the same time. Nothing he suggests contradicts what she said about MMO character design. One of the worst things about twitter is that it is full of men like Deroir who are gasping for chances to tell women they're wrong about something.

That reddit thread is really something. The worst thing about it is they're not wrong. Twitch streamers have an outsized importance when it comes to game studio financials. Price's worst crime was treating a "partner" like he was just a common fan.
posted by muddgirl at 5:26 PM on July 11 [45 favorites]


FWIW, Stardock's upcoming flagship is a new Star-Control game and Stardock is engaged in a legal dispute with the original creators of Star-Control, because the creators are currently also working on a new Star-Control game. In my experience they (the creators) are upstanding people, and they're being unusually transparent about the situation if you're inclined to follow developments.
posted by Cusp at 5:39 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


They cater to this gamergate asshole fanbase because sadly that group has a significant purchasing power

Nobody has any idea whether the gamergate asshole fanbase has significant purchasing power. The people on forums are a tiny minority of almost any game's player base and are almost certainly not representative of the majority of players that don't participate in any of that stuff at all.

"Game developers need to listen to the fans if they want to be successful" is maybe an even more dubious claim than "Targeted advertising is worth the ridiculous amounts of money being spent to collect the information needed to attempt it."
posted by straight at 5:58 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


A multi-player game is as good as the most aggravating player in the game lets it be.

Yep. And the most aggravating players are always young white males. Not to stray away from the topic, but this is primarily why I will be avoiding Fallout 76 (and I love Fallout the best): because of these little shitheads.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:02 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]




I talk to a couple of ArenaNet employees fairly regularly. Not gonna get into any details because reasons, but I've seen the reaction go from rage to despair to numb-from-anger. Also, the fallout from this is not over internally.

Speaking on the outside: ArenaNet's statements on this straight-up make the bosses look worse, because they say things like "if an employee is being harassed, we'll take steps to protect them" when they did exactly the opposite of that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:36 PM on July 11 [18 favorites]


But it felt necessary because we need to shed light on this type of bullshit and we need to vote with our dollars

No we need to vote with our actual votes for people who will enact legislation that levies criminal and civil penalties for gendered terrorism that is commensurate with the damage it causes.

And then we need to enforce that legislation.

That is literally the only way this stops.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:57 PM on July 11 [58 favorites]


No one should be fired for being a bit unpleasant on Twitter. Yes, her reply was rude and assumed sexism when none was evident, but pretty forgivable in light of the constant harrassment female devs are subject to online. This seems like it might warrant perhaps a conversation, maybe a suggestion to just disengage when facing what appears to be unwarranted criticism online.

Firing her seems like a big capitulation to angry neckbeards. Firing her coworker is bizarre. I didn't agree with his defense of her (Twitter is a public place, your followers can interact with you, that's the whole idea), but he certainly didn't say anything out of line. Another disappointing chapter in the GG saga.
posted by Mechashiva at 7:43 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


Yes, her reply was rude and assumed sexism when none was evident,

Disagree. The comment she was responding to was rude, condescending and sexst, and her reply was mild irritation. Her interlocutor is the one who blew up and freaked out about it.
posted by misfish at 7:56 PM on July 11 [78 favorites]


Thread derail: I like that adrianhon pointed out in their post above that their duty to their company is threefold: shareholders, customers, employees.

That needs to be drilled into more people’s heads. Running a business means you are creating a three-legged stool. Break one, or make one too big, and the whole thing tips over.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:03 PM on July 11 [13 favorites]


I think ArenaNet will suffer a hard-to-quantify-but-increasingly-significant degrading of talent over the next few years; developers of a caliber to have options are already less interested in including ArenaNet in those options (everyone has heard what happened), and leadership demonstrating so starkly to existing employees how contemptuously it treats them would go down poorly at any time, but with the labor market as hot as it is right now I think it will be nudging a few employees to take a look at what other opportunities might be out there and start thinking about updating resumes.

I think it's past of the point of damage control too; I can't think of much that O'Brien could do now to un-stain himself.
posted by anonymisc at 8:12 PM on July 11 [13 favorites]


His reply was rude, no matter how polite the language he couched it. The fact that he thought it was acceptable to be rude to a professional giving their time to explain their job is the part that is sexist.
posted by muddgirl at 8:29 PM on July 11 [21 favorites]


There's a lot of people who seem to be unable to actually understand rudeness except by parsing the text for cuss words or direct name-calling. It's an abdication of judgment to say you can't make a judgment call on borderline cases, so you're not going to make any judgments if there's *any* doubt. No. Preponderance of the evidence is good enough for a civil trial, and there's way more harm in letting some toxic trolls run roughshod on a platform than there is in banning a few people who are tone-deaf or lose their tempers sometimes. These are not public squares, and one of the shames of the Internet is that we don't actually have any of those.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:59 PM on July 11 [19 favorites]


I know ArenaNet has had problems with recruiting in the past: they're based in Seattle, so they're not even in the top three coolest gaming companies to work for in the Seattle area (home of Valve and Nintendo of America, among others), and getting programmers has historically been very hard when you could work for, say, Amazon, or Microsoft, and get paid much more and work on much more relevant problems.

Anyway, this shit makes me furious. What's particularly frustrating is that anyone trying to correct the record gets a barrage from gators and useful idiots.
posted by Merus at 9:14 PM on July 11 [7 favorites]


Gaming companies cultivate, welcome, and encourage a toxic and misogynist community. They are not victims of gamergate, they are part of gamergate. They refuse to ban abusive players and pretend that it's almost impossible to control harassment. (And yet somehow they have no trouble immediately permabanning anyone who dares steal from them or publishes an exploit!) Their story lines and artwork are sexist and lazy. So of course ANet fired Jessica Price. It doesn't make sense for them not to.
posted by Stonkle at 9:59 PM on July 11 [13 favorites]


I would appreciate it if someone would illuminate where in Deroir's reply he is being rude as it reads to me as a good faith suggestion. Price's firing is unambiguously awful but I am genuinely not understanding that aspect of the discussion.
posted by ReadEvalPost at 10:19 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Nobody has any idea whether the gamergate asshole fanbase has significant purchasing power. The people on forums are a tiny minority of almost any game's player base and are almost certainly not representative of the majority of players that don't participate in any of that stuff at all.

Maybe, but is there any reason to believe that deplorable gamergate asshole fanbase isn't in the 27-30-40% that keeps popping up everywhere else? And if it really is a small percentage, what about the obviously much larger percentage that doesn't care to root out this kind of horseshit in their community because, reasons.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:20 PM on July 11


Seconding ReadEvalPost — I totally agree that the vitriol directed at Price was nasty, horrible, and totally unwarranted, but at the same time I legitimately cannot understand why Deroir deserves any of the blame for what seems to be a thoroughly polite and professional series of tweets.
posted by teraflop at 10:22 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Here's a very long twitter thread explaining exactly what was so condescending and rude about Deroir's tweets.
posted by misfish at 10:30 PM on July 11 [38 favorites]


I think you can quibble over whether explaining an expert's job to them is rude per se vs. merely tonedeaf and presumptuous; that said, Price's reply likewise was a pretty justified and low-stakes reply to the latter, to which Deroir's reply was to characterize her as getting mad.

At that point I'd pretty well lose my patience, too. And what might merit a strained eyeroll in isolation can in volume and over time become a hell of a lot more trying.

All that said: at the end of the day if that was the whole thing, that would have been...the whole thing. Expert tweets about some stuff; duder condescends about it; expert blows it off; duder gripes about it; expert says, folks, this is shit that happens a lot and I'm tired of it. Obnoxious encounter, low stakes, end of.

But it's kind of pointless to try and track back from the everything else and say "okay but what if the low-stakes bit before all the awfulness was inflected slightly differently?" because if it was just that low-stakes bit and questions of inflecting the brief exchanged slightly differently, we wouldn't be discussing it.
posted by cortex at 10:34 PM on July 11 [23 favorites]


(1) it's rude that he replied to disagree in the first place, vs retweeting or screenshotting. Yes some conversations on Twitter are dialogues between friends, but lots of them aren't, especially the kind of tweet-essays like Price's. I have only been on Twitter for a few months and even I understand this ettiquette.

(2) the thesis of this comment is that Price, a professional writer and producer, doesn't know what she's talking about. Deroir apparently did not stop to consider that Price's analysis encompasses all CRPG games to some extent. Branching conversations doesn't address the central issue that players identify closely with their RPG characters and may not like any of the conversation options even in branching.
posted by muddgirl at 10:37 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


I played GW2 for a while, way back when. Was thinking about picking it up again. Guess I won't be.
posted by dazed_one at 10:45 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Internet scuttlebutt suggests that Mike O'Brien has fired important people without cause before based on the subreddit's opinions. The most likely person, to my mind, is Colin Johannsen, who was game director until the first expansion and left to 'pursue other opportunities' after it was received poorly. This isn't unusual, but given that ex-ArenaNet staffers have said the management culture is prone to pushing employees out, I'm starting to wonder.
posted by Merus at 10:49 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


My only problem with the twitter thread misfish linked is that, at the end, he falls back on "I used to be this way too but my heart was changed by the Love Of A Good Woman". Like, I guess, celebrate the small victories, but how about deciding that women are people worthy of respect, not because you now get to HAVE one, but because they're fucking people worthy of respect?
posted by hanov3r at 11:23 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Hmm. Maybe this is a bad take, but my interpretation of the end of that thread is that he's just finished laying out all the ways in which it didn't matter who was actually correct, and that events played out solely as a consequence of who was better able to get the mob on their side, and so he does the same thing to make his arguments more appealing to the people who leapt to Deroir's defense. "I used to be just like you!" People tend to get defensive and double-down on their beliefs when you accuse them of being wrong, and so while it should be self-evident misogyny and mansplaining are bad, perhaps the thinking here is that by characterizing those conclusions as less immediately obvious and self-evident, you entice more folks to let their guards down and recognize the truth of those conclusions? Again, that's just a guess at the reason that thread goes the places it goes; I'm not about to speculate about the actual efficacy or harms of such a rhetorical strategy.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 12:05 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Wow, makes me realize how different company policy can be. In many industries I am familiar with(audit, finance, consulting, manufacturing, etc), if I had a public social media account with over 10k followers where I am publicly identified as an employee at my company, and I started describing the design process and thoughts behind our products... that would be really really frowned upon. And if I engaged in conversation with a major customer or a product reviewer or content producer - and I called them names - I have to imagine that would lead to me being fired.

There's a good reason in most companies PR are the only people authorized to talk to the media (and in today's world, a streamer or content producer could be even more influential than a regular media person). Best practice is that no one besides PR, purchasing and sales is allowed to speak to external parties because no one else has the necessary training and audit controls over what they are and aren't allowed to say. Someone from the media contact you about something? You have to give them the PR number and refuse to engage.
posted by xdvesper at 12:42 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I would appreciate it if someone would illuminate where in Deroir's reply he is being rude as it reads to me as a good faith suggestion.

It was complete nonsense delivered in a tone of patronising authority to a professional talking about their field. The "suggestion" he made (as far as I can tell "all your problems will be solved by just having more dialogue options", while completely failing to grasp the complexity of implementing that, and the negative effects it would have on PC and NPC verisimilitude) was so disconnected from and uninterested in the insightful discussion it purported to respond to that this is one of those cases where "not even wrong" is the best description.

The tweets would have been rude even if they had been genuinely insightful, but it must be particularly galling to have some entitled manchild smugly suggesting that all your problems would be solved if only you gave him a pony. Fuck that guy.
posted by howfar at 1:06 AM on July 12 [24 favorites]


If I had a public social media account with over 10k followers where I am publicly identified as an employee at my company, and I started describing the design process and thoughts behind our products... that would be really really frowned upon.

Sure, but in the linked article Price was quoted as saying:
There were meetings in which executives promised us that they wanted us to speak up about the ugly things, the harmful things, and that we wouldn’t be punished for doing so,” she said. “There was constant talk about how to make it the sort of place that you’d dream of working at, not just because of the cool games we were making, not just because of the benefits and perks, but because it was going to be a corrective to the exploitation and toxicity of so much of the industry.
Different companies, different rules. (Though in this case the stated rules and the actual rules didn't match when push came to shove.)
posted by nnethercote at 1:45 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


They're executives. Obviously they meant employees can "speak up" generally, just not use aggression back at the public. For example typing 9_9 at people, making it personal i.e. accusing individual people of mansplaining, i.e. these one-on-one twitter fights, executives don't like that sort of stuff. An employee that can't toe the capitalist version of social justice gets fired. (And an employee is always on duty.)
posted by polymodus at 1:51 AM on July 12


I think it's really important in these discussions to distinguish between the sad reality of employees occasionally being fired when they do anything that upsets management (like typing "9_9" at people) and whether or not that act is just. It is very understandable to be cynical, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't also be angry and demand change, as almost all of us will be employees during most of our lives.

I also want to push back on this idea that Deroir is a big-time partner of ArenaNet. Here's how I put it in my post:
Q: Deroir is an important Arenanet Partner, Price is damaging Arenanet’s business with her tweet!

OK, so it’s as if some artist at Marvel Studios snapped at Robert Downey Jr., a person arguably critical to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right? Because we’re acting as if an “Arenanet Partner” is an especially unique and prestigious position to attain, rather than being one of more than a hundred bloggers and streamers that anyone can apply to join.

Deroir has around 2000 Twitter followers and 8000 YouTube subscribers – and this is after all of the fuss, which has no doubt inflated his follower count. This puts him solidly in the middle of the Arenanet Partner pack, which I don’t think any employee at the company, other than those in social media, could possibly be expected to memorise. This is not to belittle his importance, it’s to put things into perspective.
posted by adrianhon at 2:13 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


Not touching the interaction, but it's telling to me when any company fires apparently experienced and skilled employees over such trivial, arbitrary things. It says, "We care much more about marketing ourselves to you as being a particular kind of company, rather than doing actually good work." Not a great look.
posted by value of information at 2:29 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Because we’re acting as if an “Arenanet Partner” is an especially unique and prestigious position to attain, rather than being one of more than a hundred bloggers and streamers that anyone can apply to join.

Saddest tinder bio. Swipe left.
posted by Fizz at 4:26 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I would appreciate it if someone would illuminate where in Deroir's reply he is being rude as it reads to me as a good faith suggestion.

I don't think it was inherently rude of him to reply. It's not as if there's One True Way to tell a story in a videogame, upon which only The Elect may hold forth. It was rude because it was disingenuously phrased as a suggestion:
However, allow me to disagree *slightly*. I dont believe the issue lies in the MMORPG genre itself (as your wording seemingly suggest). I believe the issue lies in the contraints of the Living Story's narrative design
(etc etc)

but really it's just a complaint about her work on the game. No doubt one that's been made many, many times before. There was nothing she could have said in response that would have lead to a useful conversation.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:27 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I have followed and been friendly with Price for years, and if this isn’t a discussion about misogyny, it is missing the point. Price is being punished for being a woman and being vocal about misogyny, and everything else is window dressing.
posted by maxsparber at 4:30 AM on July 12 [32 favorites]


Someone from the media contact you about something? You have to give them the PR number and refuse to engage.

Yes, if they contact me at work. At-will employment has gutted people's ability to speak freely on their private social media accounts and that's disturbing. And it's disturbing that more people don't find it disturbing. It makes people employees first, 24 hours a day, and private citizens second.
posted by Mavri at 4:58 AM on July 12 [26 favorites]


That pull quote up above is particularly sad, but it has a happy ending, the community has rallied behind her. So that's something to be hopeful about, but it's still sad as fuck that this happens to people who just want to play a game and enjoy that game in a public space that all should be welcome in.
posted by Fizz at 5:32 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


We are who we pretend to be.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:39 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I'm not an asshole, I'm just roleplaying an asshole.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:17 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Just because someone is being nice as they condescend to you and your expertise, doesn't mean they're not being rude. And when she replied with some very low level snark he was basically saying "calm down little lady, I was being nice and you got all mad." Now imagine this happening to her on a regular basis when she talks about her expertise. This justifies getting a bit miffed in her own personal space, no? But no, she is a woman so she's fair game to be criticized and she's not supposed be upset about it.

AND THEN the guy double-downed by 1) Acting wide-eyed and claiming he just wanted a discussion, but then sitting back and letting people go at her and not being a human being and objecting to her being abused and fired when really it was supposedly just about discussion and 2) claiming to be a feminist. "Nice" guys who claim to be feminists but behave in these condescending ways, perpetrating micro-aggressions on a regular basis do more damage than the overt misogynists because they reinforce the idea that all these little things aren't actually the platform on which the big things stand.

SCREW nice.
posted by Kimberly at 6:20 AM on July 12 [37 favorites]


For all those saying Deroir was being so *nice* and *reasonable* I'd like to share with you this comic on Sealioning.

Tone policing.
Devil's Advocating.
"Yeah But .."
"I'm not sexist but.."

It's all a calculated disingenuous act.

Deroir knew exactly what he was doing. And he got rewarded for it.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:26 AM on July 12 [40 favorites]


A thing that I find challenging here (separate from the question of Is This Tweet A Firing Offence) is that employees are increasingly being expected to act as ambassadors of their employers on social media, but the employers aren't giving them any support to prevent their social media environment from being a toxic force in their life. In standard customer-facing roles, if your job exposed you to hundreds of people threatening you, that's a workplace safety issue and HR has to take it seriously or the liability could be huge. But no one on the corporate end is treating social media for what it often is: a hostile and toxic work environment for employees.
posted by Jairus at 6:47 AM on July 12 [26 favorites]


Yes, if they contact me at work. At-will employment has gutted people's ability to speak freely on their private social media accounts and that's disturbing. And it's disturbing that more people don't find it disturbing. It makes people employees first, 24 hours a day, and private citizens second.

If you use your company name in your Twitter or other social media, or talk with people about your company's activities on your social media, it's not entirely your private social media account.

That's one of the main reasons why people put those disclaimers like "TWEETS DO NOT REPRESENT THE OPINION OF X_CORP" in their bios. I don't know if that actually helps, but people do it...
posted by theorique at 7:27 AM on July 12


This is why I don't say anything about where I work on social media. The company I work for is a Name Brand in its space, and has gotten a lot of flack about recent decisions, so I'm not hugely happy about the possibility of taking a part of it.
posted by mephron at 7:28 AM on July 12


I'll say one more thing: I'd be lying I wasn't a little bit afraid of harassment and harm to my livelihood, my business, and by extension, my employees, because I posted this.

I was just listening to the Waypoint podcast about this and it was painful to listen to Austin Walker try to tiptoe a bit around his condemnation of the whole situation, no doubt for those same reasons.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The problem with misfish's twitter thread explanation is that, at that rate, there would be no way for a man to respectfully disagree with her that would look any different from mansplaining. Opening up and closing by acknowledging the thoughtful thread that he enjoyed, but also framing that around a differing opinion - That is an acknowledged and encouraged way to disagree with someone. The problem is you can read it both as respectful or condescending - partly because of a pattern of condescending sexist behavior from gamers. But a pattern doesn't mean that every instance of disagreement is mansplaining. Because what would happen if someone, who was interested in learning or discussing more about this process, shared their opinion in a genuine way but received a terse reply? They might say, wow, that was rude/unnecessary. I'll leave you alone. That's what happened here. But it also looks like tone policing, right?

And, okay, this is why I've got my back up a little. Because in this case she is wrong and he is right - GW2 in the early parts of the game is full of examples of multiple story line options and multiple dialogue response options that let you develop a sense of investment in your character as an individual rather than as a story. He's right that it's the Living Story that constrains different types of character development/investment, not the genre. I've played this game for 5 years now, and it's a criticism that I would make of the later parts of the game - the lack of options that we have. And the use of the blank slate for the linear stories makes sense, and I understand why that would be easier for the overarching stories. But it's certainly not the only option, and our perspective on that as players is certainly valid because we're the ones investing in them.

I might not have disagreed with her in quite the same words, but that's substantially a point I might have made. Bring in more options, please! I keep making characters to go back to when I had choices. And if my as a woman disagreeing with her might be odd, but otherwise okay, but bad for him even if approaching with genuine interest, then that's a problem.

I'm not saying he was being genuine. I'm saying that the problem is that when men are being genuine, that can still look like misogyny even when it's checking off all the boxes you want it to. Acknowledges the author of the original at the beginning and end? Check. Is polite? Check. Hedges, uses uncertain language, frames as an opinion rather than as fact? Check. Backs off when rebuffed, but doesn't insult the author? Check. Could be using these trappings to be an asshole? Check. But again, those are also the things someone genuinely respectful might do.
posted by cui bono at 7:30 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


It'd be really nice if we could have a discussion about the real, documented terrorizing of gamers and developers for being women, POC, LGBTQ, etc where "but she was kinda asking for it" for really stupid reasons is never part of the dialogue. It's not important at all that she was supposed to know her place thanks to predatory, anti-employee business practices. It is important that she was harassed by shitty manbabies for nothing more than responding to a shitty streamer who is apparently valued far more than her by her shitty bosses despite doing nothing but making videos of himself playing hers and other's work.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:32 AM on July 12 [24 favorites]


The problem with misfish's twitter thread explanation is that, at that rate, there would be no way for a man to respectfully disagree with her that would look any different from mansplaining

There is another alternative: don't bother her just because you think she's wrong and needs to be publicly corrected on a social media platform.
posted by maxsparber at 7:34 AM on July 12 [27 favorites]


Also I'm really distressed that discussion of how ArenaNet said repeatedly that their employees should feel free to discuss and challenge toxicity, publicly, that the executives said they'd have their employees' backs (and that this is extensively cited and quoted IN THIS VERY DISCUSSION), and yet STILL, folks in this thread continue to attempt to police that like the assurances didn't really matter and weren't a trap set for Price and her compatriots, and that that trap isn't the discussion point, but Price's behavior is.
posted by kalessin at 7:36 AM on July 12 [16 favorites]


I would appreciate it if someone would illuminate where in Deroir's reply he is being rude as it reads to me as a good faith suggestion.

It’s possible to write courteously and still be rude when you barge into a discussion about game development ideas and act like it’s a forum for giving feedback suggestions about a particular game.

It wasn’t a Guild Wars 2 forum where she was asking for fan feedback about Guild Wars 2. It was a personal forum where she’s talking about game development ideas and using her work at ArenaNet as an illustration of those ideas.

That's not the place to barge in and say, “HERE'S WHAT I THINK YOU SHOULD DO IN GUILD WARS 2!”
posted by straight at 7:36 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


So what you're saying is that he wasn't actually "starting a discussion", he was criticising the game she was working on in a thread that only used GW2 as a jumping off point? Mega-rude. Unbelievably rude. What an asshole.

To imply that men have to tiptoe around women ignores the real life experiences of professional women most particularly on twitter. If he was really curious about what Price thought about the difference between writing living story games vs branching games, he could have asked. But he wasn't curious at all because her opinion didn't matter, even though he's on a Twitter thread that she's hosting. If he wanted to spout his own opinion, he has his own Twitter space to do it in.
posted by muddgirl at 7:40 AM on July 12 [29 favorites]


Maybe, but is there any reason to believe that deplorable gamergate asshole fanbase isn't in the 27-30-40% that keeps popping up everywhere else? And if it really is a small percentage, what about the obviously much larger percentage that doesn't care to root out this kind of horseshit in their community because, reasons.

I don't dispute that the number of sexist assholes in Guild Wars 2 is probably at least as high as in the general population.

What I'm saying is that the vast majority of players, including the sexist assholes, aren't involved in these Twitter/Reddit/GWforum dramas and probably aren't even aware of them. The idea that this Twitter spat was endangering ArenaNet's bottom line is very dubious.

(And in general, I think game developers tend to mistake their noisy fans for a representative sample of their actual player base, to the detriment of their game development work.)
posted by straight at 7:44 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, although I'm sure everyone here knows it, the personal Twitter accounts of game studio employees is never the correct place to complain about a game you don't like. The same goes for movies and TV shows. Yes, even if they put the name of the game in their Twitter bio.
posted by muddgirl at 7:44 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


The problem with misfish's twitter thread explanation is that, at that rate, there would be no way for a man to respectfully disagree with her that would look any different from mansplaining.

Bullshit.

The starting point of respectful disagreement is respect. And part of respect is actually paying attention to what's going on and framing your response thus.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:49 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


I don't play many MMOs, but in the game I did play for a while, DCUO, the people you would meet playing the game were nothing at all like what you would expect from reading the forums.
posted by straight at 7:49 AM on July 12


Price's original Twitter thread was premised on explaining why "just do branching dialogue lol" isn't always a solution, so at the very least Deroir's reply indicated that he didn't read the fucking thread before jumping in with his opinion. That's an absolutely classic mansplaining move.

It's also disingenuous to pretend that this was an interaction between two people. It was an interaction between Price and a couple of dozen asshats piling on to her, and Deroir either deliberately decided to add to the pile on or felt that his oh-so-special opinion was too important and time-sensitive for him to read the fucking room first before replying. Either way: rude as fuck.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:07 AM on July 12 [25 favorites]


Ensuring that you don’t mention your employer on your Twitter profile, or using the “these opinions don’t represent my employer” may offer some legal protection, but they are not a talisman that will prevent termination, especially in at-will employment states. They most certainly will not prevent harassment. And in a precarious economy where even professional game developers can be fired at an instant, it is profoundly unfair they should be denied the ability to be found and to advertise and share their expertise by putting the name of their employer in their profile.
posted by adrianhon at 8:21 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


To me it seems the intial twitter exchange was fairly innocuous, and if that was all there was to this it would be a non issue. It doesn't seem like Deroir had any ill intent, at least initially - yes, he came off a bit mansplainy, but it didn't read as intentional. Price's response was a bit terse, but understandably so, and again, nothing worth *any* sort of uproar or backlash. Deroir apologized (whether sincerely or not) and moved on, at least as far as his twitter feed shows.

Everything after that point is where the shitshow arises. The reddit thread (which it doesn't appear Deroir participated in, as far as I can tell), the harrassment of Price, the usual gamergate brigading, contacting her employers, and Mike O'Brien's absolutely abysmal, shameful response. In a just world, *he* would be losing his job over this.

Just to be clear, although I'm sure everyone here knows it, the personal Twitter accounts of game studio employees is never the correct place to complain about a game you don't like. The same goes for movies and TV shows. Yes, even if they put the name of the game in their Twitter bio.

Yeah, this is like 99% of what makes twitter awful. The easy ability, and feeling of entitlement arising from that ability, for shitheels to take out whatever petty stupid grievances they have on individual people just doing their jobs.
posted by Roommate at 8:42 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


It doesn't seem like Deroir had any ill intent, at least initially - yes, he came off a bit mansplainy, but it didn't read as intentional.

I mean, the nature of the beast is that it isn't "intentional" in that someone actually sets out to belittle you by doing it, otherwise we'd just call it harassment. The whole point of mansplaining is that it's the thing men do when they think they're being helpful/insightful because they didn't stop to think about how much you know about the subject matter or because they don't respect your expertise.
posted by Sequence at 9:21 AM on July 12 [25 favorites]


I have been blocked on Twitter for years by an author I really admire because it took me too long to realize that he wasn't posting things to Twitter because he wants to debate about them with randos.

Guess what? Turns out that nobody posts things to Twitter because they want to debate about about them with randos. (NOBODY. CHANGE MY MIND.)

Follow strangers on Twitter because you want to listen to them, see a little bit of their world, read their hot takes, check out their cool links, and laugh at their jokes.
posted by straight at 9:26 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


The response from the gaming community to this debacle has been to flood companies with letters pressuring them to fire female employees - evidence being the failed mail merge letters that say “female name” as a placeholder.

Reducing it to “but what about the white guy’s feelings” when people are targeting women to be fired is bullshit.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:28 AM on July 12 [29 favorites]


There were meetings in which executives promised us that they wanted us to speak up about the ugly things, the harmful things, and that we wouldn’t be punished for doing so,” she said. “There was constant talk about how to make it the sort of place that you’d dream of working at, not just because of the cool games we were making, not just because of the benefits and perks, but because it was going to be a corrective to the exploitation and toxicity of so much of the industry.

It's important to note that this sort of thing is basically the company requesting unpaid PR labor of its employees.

And then throwing them out if the results are uncomfortable for any reason at all, including blatant harassment of said employee.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:52 AM on July 12 [14 favorites]


I guess that I think that part of what makes mansplaining and related phenomena so insidious is that the guys who do it genuinely have no idea they're doing it. They don't consciously think that they're smarter and more informed than every woman. If you asked them whether they believed it was possible for a woman to know more about anything than them, they would say yes, of course. What a stupid question! Often, it's really important to them to believe that they're not sexist. But they have deep, often-unconscious beliefs about women, which include believing that women are dumber than them and believing that women ought to be sweet and pleasing and prop up men's self-esteem. So when a woman calls a man on mansplaining, she violates a lot of expectations: she challenges his identity a as a good, non-sexist guy, and she fails to be sweet and agreeable and make him feel good about himself. In fact, by suggesting he might be sexist, she makes him feel very bad about himself, which is a terrible, terrible thing for a woman to do to a man. But if she doesn't say anything, she undercuts her own authority and reinforces the idea that we're just props for men's egos. There's really no way to win if you're a woman with expertise in anything. And that's even before you get to the GooberGate hordes, who are gleefully sexist in an entirely conscious way.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:00 AM on July 12 [32 favorites]


it's 2018 and people are still fucking obsessed with finding ways to "prove" how harassment is actually all women's fault and categorizing every interaction a woman has with a man that isn't hungrily fellating his ego as "rude".
posted by poffin boffin at 10:00 AM on July 12 [38 favorites]


There is another alternative: don't bother her just because you think she's wrong and needs to be publicly corrected on a social media platform.

There are two things wrong with this - how is disagreeing correcting? And, by your logic, why then are you correcting a woman publicly on a social media platform? I didn't specifically invite disagreement, so how do you know it's okay?

Price's original Twitter thread was premised on explaining why "just do branching dialogue lol" isn't always a solution, so at the very least Deroir's reply indicated that he didn't read the fucking thread before jumping in with his opinion. That's an absolutely classic mansplaining move.

That's oversimplifying her argument. It's that people need to be able to be invested in the characterization of their PCs, so one of the things they do is to make the Living Story version of your character more of a blank slate to imprint upon. She asserts that it's a feature of the genre, not the story line, which ignores the fundamental fact that this game uses those very things that he brings up. He is interacting with her arguments and not just saying why can't we use them. And he never criticizes the game - I did. Please don't misread my comments to make your point.

The starting point of respectful disagreement is respect. And part of respect is actually paying attention to what's going on and framing your response thus.

So how would that have looked to you then? Because part of the problem in this discussion is that disagreement is taken as the part where the disrespect begins, and that's not okay. So what would respectful disagreement look like here? Because, as I said, from my perspective as someone who plays the game, that was spot on in terms of accuracy and the things I'd like to see when someone is disagreeing in a public space. Maybe without the "though" at the end. So how do you know there was no respect?

Do I have problems with her being fired for being a little terse? Oh hell yeah. But do I also have problems with how she handled it? Yes. As people have pointed out, you don't go online, mention your work by name, and be rude and have your customers and bosses be okay with that. Do I think all the gamers who were calling for her head and harassing her should be banned/punished/something? That would be huge. Gaming culture overall is pretty toxic for women, and the efforts to drive women away are depressingly effective. I stay with GW2 because the crowd is mostly pretty mature and I don't have to worry about other gamers being too awful. Does this change that? I don't know yet.

Partly because, while some seem to be very sure that they KNOW what these people are thinking and have done, not just in this instance, but for their entire careers. And we really don't. We are inferring and reasoning, and projecting based on patterns and our own experiences. And that's important because it happens here on Metafilter all the time where we can't have respectful disagreements because disagreement is taken as disrespect, from men or women. So that was a long way to come around to that I guess.
posted by cui bono at 10:08 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I work in a different field and we have an issue with mansplaining on an internal slack. Today I made a snarky remark to someone who mansplained to a woman I've been mentoring. I thought of ArenaNet and now feel sick to my stomach with worry that there will be some backlash on me. Chilling effects.

The problem is that it's an almost unprovable phenomenon. Sealions can always say they were just trying to be helpful, or nice. I could start tracking how people reply to men versus non-men at our org, but that's NOT MY JOB. I just want to do my job, just like the woman I work with does.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:13 AM on July 12 [18 favorites]


So how do you know there was no respect?

Well, for one, the fact that he turned a venue that was about discussing challenges in game development into a place to vent complaints about the game design. That's an inherently disrespectful action.

As people have pointed out, you don't go online, mention your work by name, and be rude and have your customers and bosses be okay with that.

This attitude pretty much says "your employer owns you."
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:32 AM on July 12 [14 favorites]


The decision to fire Price, and the harassment she has received, are utterly deplorable. Mansplaining is a real problem in the gaming community and our culture at large, and should be called out with justifiable anger. But what I keep coming back to, reading the original Twitter thread, is that it's just so unfortunate and unnecessary that this interaction turned out this way.

On the one hand, it's completely understandable that women developers' and writers' defenses are high, because of the environment of rampant harassment that they are forced to operate in. But even if Deroir's comment were completely wrong, mansplaining just doesn't seem to be the best fit to describe what happened in this particular case. Many of the explanations provided above about why Deroir's comment was mansplaining seem disingenuous to me; a few of them seem to consist mainly of putting different words in Deroir's mouth. The idea that it's inappropriate to reply to someone on Twitter to disagree with them using the reply function, or to disagree with them in any way (however courteously) when they are talking about their job, is new to me and I'm not sure how convincing it is. If comments or engagement are not welcome on an online posting, it seems that the appropriate venue would be a personal blog with no comment feature. In fact, one of the benefits of a medium like Twitter is that, through engagement with the public via replies and comments, interesting posts can get increased visibility. I also fail to see how Deroir was "venting complaints" or denigrating her work, as opposed to responding to some of the ideas in her thread with an alternative view.

The funny thing is that if Deroir had not made this comment (and indeed, if Price had not responded how she did), I probably would not have come across Price's insightful and interesting thread about MMO writing, which I enjoyed. To the extent that Deroir's comment was perceived to be inconsiderate or dismissive of Price's expertise, this could have been called out in so many ways other than a series of increasingly vitriolic ad hominem retweets. It could have been as simple as "There's a lot of work that goes into narrative design that you're not aware of unless you are involved in the process." Another alternative would have been to completely ignore the reply and let it fade into the background.

Again, I think Price's decision not to go that route and instead call out what she perceived as mansplaining is understandable and justified, and certainly not a fireable offense under any stretch. It's just unfortunate and sad that it played out this way, when it seems like it could have just as easily been a positive experience for the parties involved and the public at large.
posted by Pfardentrott at 10:40 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


The idea that it's inappropriate to reply to someone on Twitter to disagree with them using the reply function, or to disagree with them in any way (however courteously) when they are talking about their job, is new to me and I'm not sure how convincing it is.

So, do you just interject yourself into conversations in the physical world to disagree with someone?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:49 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]


the neverending cycle of men explaining how an incident of mansplaining isn't actually mansplaining seems like it should be powerful enough to provide energy to entire nations but i can't figure out how to market it without pushback from OPEC
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on July 12 [51 favorites]


hopefully someone will come along to explain it to me though
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on July 12 [35 favorites]


But even if Deroir's comment were completely wrong, mansplaining just doesn't seem to be the best fit to describe what happened in this particular case.

You're making the same mistake a lot of people made, that her comment was about Deroir being wrong instead of "See what my life is like? See what I have to put up with all the time?" You want to have a conversation focused on Deroir and whether he did the right thing, but she was talking about what it's like to be a female developer.
posted by straight at 10:51 AM on July 12 [25 favorites]


I think a Twitter thread is a different animal compared to a conversation in the physical world, which is different from a blog post, which is different from a journal entry, etc.
posted by Pfardentrott at 10:51 AM on July 12


If comments or engagement are not welcome on an online posting, it seems that the appropriate venue would be a personal blog with no comment feature. In fact, one of the benefits of a medium like Twitter is that, through engagement with the public via replies and comments, interesting posts can get increased visibility.

I think there are differing views on how one defines "public space" online. There are many people who feel that just because they are posting something to the publically visible internet, that does not invite anyone who can see it to engage with it. The parallel might be if you are talking to your friend in a public park, you might not welcome a passerby joining the conversation. I think this is a very reasonable position to take. There are other people who think that anything that they can see online is fair game for them to interact with. I think this was the original promise of the web, and it is reinforced by how social media platforms like to position themselves as a way for you to engage with people you know, but also people you would like to know. I think that is also a reasonable position to have, but I think it is becoming a little bit difficult to defend as more and more of our lives move online. I think it is important that people have some expectation of privacy and personal space even in a digital environment.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:51 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


It could have been as simple as "There's a lot of work that goes into narrative design that you're not aware of unless you are involved in the process." Another alternative would have been to completely ignore the reply and let it fade into the background.

Anything but making a guy feel a fraction of what they're putting onto others, right?
posted by CrystalDave at 10:53 AM on July 12 [31 favorites]


But what I keep coming back to, reading the original Twitter thread, is that it's just so unfortunate and unnecessary that this interaction turned out this way.

I mean it did escalate quickly*, but when she basically said she didn't need him to tell her how to do her job, he got offended that she was mad when he was being nice instead of leaving her alone and proceeding with his day. He pressed his feeling of entitlement that any comment from him deserved a measured response and he objected when she was like "dude, no."


*And actually probably not actually quickly, how many comments/demands for labor from nice guys who want to disagree with her or otherwise question her expertise on the internet does she have to deal with on a daily basis? What's the threshold before she's allowed to be irritated with that?
posted by Kimberly at 10:55 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I'm not seeing much recognition that ArenaNet is owned by NCsoft, a South Korean company whose executives probably have an entirely different experience of public relations and gender issues in the workplace compared to their US counterparts. Doesn't that seem relevant?

i know that this is an old comment and it's been sorta answered, but this really does rub me the wrong way, because it's hard not to read into this an implicit assumption that a south korean company is necessarily going to be sexist.

i mean, it's a really common assumption that asian companies are sexist/patriarchal, and regardless of how accurate it is or isn't in this case, running to this sort of "isn't it relevant" when all the important actors in this are *not* asian, are *not* asian-american, and are entirely westernized folk strikes me as...

biased.

westerners, particularly americans, can be pretty damn sexist too. and really shitty with gender issues in the workplace and even worse with pr.
posted by anem0ne at 10:55 AM on July 12 [25 favorites]


There are other people who think that anything that they can see online is fair game for them to interact with. I think this was the original promise of the web, and it is reinforced by how social media platforms like to position themselves as a way for you to engage with people you know, but also people you would like to know.

All the way back before the web even existed, Usenet recognized that some conversations are off-topic in some forums and that the burden was on the poster to suss out whether they were pooping in the punch bowl and that it was fair game to shame them if they got it wrong. Lurk before you post!
posted by straight at 10:55 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


This has probably been said because I've only made it about 3/4 through this thread but...

I mean, from reading the original twitter thread, the entire thing is written and sounds like Price is giving lecture or, perhaps a better way to put it might be that it was basically like a talk by a game dev at a panel. It was Price discussing as a professional How This Is Done with the (directly announced!) intention of giving outsiders a look into the process. The tone is very obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to the read.

Derior's response wasn't even in the right focus. He didn't even get what she was saying right. He was responding to something that wasn't even there. I'd be willing to bet he got a few tweets into her talk and decided he had something he wanted to say and then, rather than making sure he understood the discussion, charged ahead with that anyway. He's a man who had something He Wanted To Talk About.

This was blatant mainsplaining. She got straight up "well, actually'd".

Other people responding to her tweet did so appropriately, like you would at a panel. Appreciation for her insights, follow-up questions, wanting to know her thoughts on related aspects.

There really isn't as much ambiguity here as people seem to think. If you still think there is, I would recommend reading the entire twitter thread and paying more attention.
posted by nogoodverybad at 10:56 AM on July 12 [29 favorites]


So what would respectful disagreement look like here?

1) He could have taken his disagreement entirely elsewhere. What is respectful about a random stranger butting into a discussion to tell someone they're wrong?

2) When she clearly expressed that his opinion wasn't welcome, he could have gracefully accepted that and stopped engaging. Immediately.

3) He could have recognized that she doesn't owe him her time or engagement, and she has no obligation to gently assuage the feelings of any random person who demands her attnetion.

Finally, no one can know what is in another person's heart of hearts. Focusing on what he intended instead of what he did guarantees that all sorts of bad actions can be excused away because, gosh he didn't mean it. Or, you can derail attention from what he did by demanding that people prove what he meant.
posted by Mavri at 11:04 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


Thanks nogoodverybad, that does clarify it for me. I do agree that Deroir's comment could and should have been worded more respectfully, and probably phrased as a question rather than as a flat-out opposing view.
posted by Pfardentrott at 11:06 AM on July 12


I think a Twitter thread is a different animal compared to a conversation in the physical world, which is different from a blog post, which is different from a journal entry, etc.

Well, I don't agree with that position, in large part because of how much we live our lives online today. In a very real way, our online dialogs have assumed the same roles as offline ones, and so I tend to find the argument that they are different to be an attempt to avoid dealing with norms that exist.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:15 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


The funny thing is that if Deroir had not made this comment (and indeed, if Price had not responded how she did), I probably would not have come across Price's insightful and interesting thread about MMO writing, which I enjoyed.
i'm glad she was paid in exposure, at the cost of losing her paycheck.
To the extent that Deroir's comment was perceived to be inconsiderate or dismissive of Price's expertise, this could have been called out in so many ways other than a series of increasingly vitriolic ad hominem retweets. It could have been as simple as "There's a lot of work that goes into narrative design that you're not aware of unless you are involved in the process." Another alternative would have been to completely ignore the reply and let it fade into the background.
this seems... awfully tone-policey.

i don't mean to pick on you in particular, pfardentrott, but i keep seeing different variations of this where it's always well-meaning guys trying to say that they agree that arenanet was wrong, but so was she, but it's understandable that she acted this way. It's seems awfully like are are trying to borrow from the wisdom of Solomon and try to be nuanced and see both sides, and... I dunno, I find myself frustrated with it.

Online, at best, you get to only see the barest shadow of the person you're interacting with, especially if you don't know them. And when you're a person who gets a lot of responses online, you're going to develop some quick rubrics on how to deal with people in the few moments you have. If the shadow looks like a duck, and it moves like a duck, and even sounds like a duck, you're going to think it's a duck. You don't necessarily have time to know where the actual person is coming from. It could be that Deroir really did want a discussion (though I have some doubts about that). But he came at it from a very mansplainy way.

It's very similar to how people get their hackles up very fast when some come in just to ask a few questions about x, or even suggest that something's an overreaction. If you're part of a minority where that's been deployed against you time and time and time again, even if the intent of the person isn't to silence or gaslight you but to have an actual conversation, in the limited time you have to make that decision all you see is a shadow that resembles the shadow of all the abusers and bigots past.

Is it any wonder, then, that she reacted that way? You experience that sort of prejudice, subtle and "polite" as it may be enough times that your nerves get rubbed raw, that you might just push back a little?

And one of the aftereffects of this is that now it's been made abundantly clear to women that even a "progressive" employer won't have your back--and that others, like Feminist Apparel, which trade on it, even if they're run by "woke" dudes, are getting even harder to distinguish from actual sexist shitbags. Their shadows are the same.
posted by anem0ne at 11:23 AM on July 12 [25 favorites]


this ain't about twitter etiquette, yall
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:23 AM on July 12 [18 favorites]


And, by your logic, why then are you correcting a woman publicly on a social media platform?

It feels to me like context matters. This is a discussion thread, where we've to some extent agreed to share our disagreements and argue back and forth. We read enough threads to know what we were signing up for before we paid our five bucks, and we knew we were taking part in a potentially somewhat contentious thread before we hit "Post Comment". That's all vital context, and maybe it's partly the wilful ignoring of context that makes a man's "well actually" on Twitter such a problem. Ignoring the skills, knowledge and experience of the target; ignoring the fact that she's already been given a dozen smug little corrections from know-it-alls this week; ignoring the very words she says to make your glib little point; ignoring the fact that you have no reason to think she has any desire for your opinion at all. And yet, despite all this obliviousness, men still manage to maintain an awareness of gender that allows us to, as a group, consistently correct women in tech much more than we do men.
posted by howfar at 11:26 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


In a very real way, our online dialogs have assumed the same roles as offline ones, and so I tend to find the argument that they are different to be an attempt to avoid dealing with norms that exist.

Even so, it's not a fair analogy. Even in the physical world, a conversation at a party is different than a conversation in a park, which is different than a conversation between panelists in front of an audience at a convention, which is different than a conversation in a movie theater... Some are more welcoming to strangers joining the conversation than others (and the last one is just rude altogether). The problem with an online space like twitter is some people think it's *all* a conversation at a party.
posted by Roommate at 11:26 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


this ain't about twitter etiquette, yall

Actually, it's about ethics in Twitter @-replies.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on July 12 [22 favorites]


I’ve been trying to write something for a while now about how online conversation corresponds to offline conversations - this discussion has been really fascinating.

I’m particularly interested in why some people are so utterly offended by the very concept of blocking online, despite the fact that people are (generally) much less likely to demand *the right* to talk to you in offline contexts. Blocking is simply declining to interact with someone. Which is of course heavily gendered.

I suspect that men are a lot more likely to get offended when a woman blocks them or refuses to engage with them online than they do when a man does it, just like in the offline world. Though if a woman engages in a way they don’t find sufficiently obsequious, like Price did - well, they’ll still come after you.
posted by faineg at 12:44 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Hey folks, remember this interaction?

(Woman posts on Twitter expressing concern about climate change; woman gets drive-by climate change troll "well actually if you learned some actual science" response, woman points out that more beyond her astrophysics PhD might be overkill.)

If that interaction had lead to a harassment campaign and University of Melbourne firing Dr Katie Mack, would we have had the equivalent of this conversation, complete with how the guy is obviously a conservative troll and he wasn't targeting her because she's a woman and he didn't mean any harm to her career and and and...?

(Sorry if this seems to be a derail, but it's not in my opinion. Woman who's an expert doesn't take kindly to being belittled in her area of expertise, her absolute dreck if an employer fires her for the utter temerity after a harassing campaign. This is not complicated.)

(The first page of Google results when I searched to find a link includes what seems to be, I'll go off on a limb here, probably men discussing whether a PhD in astrophysics (with all its attendant thermodynamics and general science prerequisites) constitutes enough science, because it's not a PhD in atmospheric physics after all. The incident did raise comment. Just, praise be, not that kind.)
posted by seyirci at 1:03 PM on July 12 [18 favorites]


I don't think it's a derail, seyirci. The number of people in this very thread pursuing rhetorical contortions to excuse mansplaining and other kinds of trollish GG/MRA behavior is pretty astounding.
posted by kalessin at 1:10 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]


Agreed. What is so complicated about “Don’t go up to someone, virtually or in real life, and start a debate about how they did or are doing their job”? They work there, you don’t, they know what they’re talking about, you don’t. The customer is not right.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:16 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Agreed. What is so complicated about “Don’t go up to someone, virtually or in real life, and start a debate about how they did or are doing their job”? They work there, you don’t, they know what they’re talking about, you don’t. The customer is not right.

Well, for me, the complicated thing is that that sounds bad and not how I want to be treated. I work on consumer-facing software that many people can understand, offer useful perspectives on, and be curious about. I want people who have opinions about my work to tell me their opinions, without being worried that their opinion isn't good enough, or scared to disagree with me. That's actually really important to me.

In my last job, there was a subreddit devoted to our software where people would frequently suggest features that they thought were good ideas, disagree that the features we added were good ideas, nag us about bugs, and so on. When other people asked me about my job, one of the first things I would say is how happy it made me feel that a bunch of people cared enough about our product to argue about it and suggest ideas all day. It was top on the list of salient perks.

So, it would be nice to figure out how to get people to understand and respect the norms of the spaces they're in, so that we can have half-baked opinions from randos for some, and miniature American flags for others.
posted by value of information at 1:45 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I would love to know how it makes one microfucktron of difference whether streamer guy was an intentionally mansplaining MRA or just a well-intended ignoramus when this lady got fired from her goddamn job by her shitty coward boss getting spooked by his shittier garbage userbase

it doesn't and it's weird that so much of the discussion here is about when it's OK to @ someone
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:50 PM on July 12 [40 favorites]


I'm thinking to the times where a certain male family member I have a hard time with because his well-intentioned contrarianism makes me seethe with rage. Everything I have to say and offer, he cannot resist "questioning" it. If I accuse him of prejudice, that would alienate me from the whole family. So I find myself being forced to grow and be a better person, e.g., perform emotional labor. I then have to deal with this as internalized toxicity, or else I lose my progressive values and political self to it. The times that I stood up and fought back in similar instances, were personally too costly. So internalized oppression is a psychological lens that I've been trying to understand better, for my growth and betterment.

I also have a question about toxic culture and intellectual freedom. Academic culture, supposedly, values critique and healthy disagreement. But my question isn't the one most might assume. I want to know if those instances of debate about my work, even something like "peer review"--couldn't we also radically view those social practices not as neutralities but inherently oppressive in service of kyriarchy. I think that's a big question.
posted by polymodus at 1:56 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


it doesn't and it's weird that so much of the discussion here is about when it's OK to @ someone

Fucking THIS.

Her shitbag employer basically looses the hounds of harassment on her and fucking THIS is what people want to litigate? Whether her tone was exactly pitch perfect when responding to an obviously sexist man who was being obviously sexist?

Sidenote: I do not give a flying FUCK whether the poor little grown ass man is aware of his own sexism or whether he intended to be a such a dick while twirling his shitty mustache; that he remains sexist and shitty and is an adult in the world is quite enough for moral culpability, thank you.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:02 PM on July 12 [34 favorites]


Let's take a moment to compare this to the plane bae incident, in which a woman started the harassment mob, inadvertantly or not. How much bending over backwards to defend her was there in that thread compared to this one? If you are defending Deroir now*, go look at your posting history to see who else you've chosen to defend or not defend over the years.

* Even if it's defense through professed confusion.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:07 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]


all these "well how are men supposed to express their ~opinions?" complaints are so much like the "so are men just NOT ALLOWED to talk to women anymore?" complaints in every single sexual harassment thread ever since the dawn of time and it's so exhausting and i long for the sweet silent icy embrace of the grave
posted by poffin boffin at 2:13 PM on July 12 [33 favorites]


I don't think some of these dudes realise that the question they're actually answering is "was it right to fire her for this?" and they're going "well..."

For so little from her. So little.

That's fucking chilling.
posted by E. Whitehall at 2:36 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]


I also remember this particular story where two men engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior at a conference while explicitly representing their company, got called out, fired, and there was so much hang-wringing about their jobs, and the entire focus was because the woman who called them out posted their photos on Twitter.

She was later fired.

I'm starting to feel like nothing men ever do should ever get them fired, and anything women do in response, especially if it involves Twitter, is a problem.
posted by maxsparber at 2:43 PM on July 12 [15 favorites]


The reason we are talking about Jessica Price at all is not because she may or may not have been rude, or brusque, or whatever, to a guy who may also have been rude. Such events happen literally millions of times every day and they pass without comment.

We’re talking about it because she was immediately fired, without any process, and has now become the subject of an internet hate mob that is now targeting many other game developers, mostly but not all women.

She was fired, and she shouldn’t have been. Even if you think she was rude - and clearly I do not - it should be possible to be rude without being fired and having your life ruined for, at a minimum, a few years.
posted by adrianhon at 2:53 PM on July 12 [32 favorites]


I just can’t believe we’re litigating the the precise intonation of Price and Deroir’s tweets. Like, who really gives a fuck? We don’t do that with all the other Twitter arguments out there. The real outrage is her termination, and the horribly public nature of it. She is the one who is suffering, not Deroir and not ArenaNet.
posted by adrianhon at 2:56 PM on July 12 [30 favorites]


I believe the discussion has focused on Deroir's comments as there is disagreement to whether they are sexist in nature. Everyone agrees that Price's tweets did not constitute a fireable offense.
posted by ReadEvalPost at 3:00 PM on July 12


Nor should anything Price or Deroir said result in the harassment of completely unrelated women.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:00 PM on July 12


Actually, several people have said they were fireable. Most people have said we wouldn't fire someone over them.
posted by cui bono at 3:01 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Things like this have happened before and will happen again and again and again and again and. I often want to comment on bystanders because there's usually so many of them, and they're usually so terrible.

Perpetrators - people who have contacted her employer and demanded her firing, or sent her threats, or otherwise been hate mob participants - those are a tiny minority. People who attack vulnerable people in general - stalkers, harassers, abusers, etc. - are a collection of tiny minorities that really heavily overlap. Anecdotally, they're almost never even a tenth of a social group. Sometimes, a lot of people not actively targeted choose to enable and/or defend.

Those bystanders - the Monday morning quarterbacks who want to endlessly relitigate whether her behavior was sufficiently gracious? Whether being that upset about that tiny little microaggression was warranted? They're acting as advocates and volunteer assistants to the guys who got her fired, and unfortunately they're a huge majority.

These interactions can be draining and re-traumatizing, especially if you've already had very large quantities of them. All this kind of commentary: "what if you misunderstood?" "are you sure you didn't overreact?" "please re-explain why you thought it was okay to raise your voice." - like, this is an enormous problem, to me.

And being a less terrible, less active supporter of misogyny and other kinds of injustice doesn't even seem like it would be hard. Just like: maybe acknowledge the things the perpetrators did actually really happened and it would be better if they weren't done to people? And she didn't deserve it because reasons?
posted by bagel at 3:01 PM on July 12 [20 favorites]


[Bunch of stuff removed. Folks, I know this is sort of a charged thing with multiple moving parts, but it's getting needlessly and unworkably heated and I need y'all to help me get it to a more manageable place. Part of that is gonna be getting less personal, part of it is skipping some of the generalizations, and part of it is definitely skipping the nth iteration of "well but how was it rude tho" derivation from first principles.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:06 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Would those remarks be sexist in a world without gamergate, a world where public-facing women who work in the gaming industry have bodyguards? Would they be sexist if they were said in isolation and not one of millions of times these women face stuff like that? It feels like that's what we are asking when we over-examine the text of the actual conversation. But we don't live in that world. We live in a world where a man in certain circles interacting in any way with a public woman on Twitter can lead to harassment or worse.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:08 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]


bagel: "Just like: maybe acknowledge the things the perpetrators did actually really happened and it would be better if they weren't done to people?"

I mean, the fundamental problem here is that Deroir's initial reply seems like it might be good faith to most people (including me). The idea that Deroir is absolutely, provably, definitely a mansplainer who needs to be told off just doesn't ring true to me, so that acknowledgement is a little much to ask for. I'm also surprised that people don't think you should @ people on twitter and that it'd be better to screenshot and subtweet them (!?) or any other twitter etiquette stuff that seems bonkers for a quasi-public figure on a quasi-popular game.

On the other hand, I'm also super in favor of Price. I like that she stood up for herself and others even if I don't necessarily feel the same way. I'm sorry she got fired because her execs are shitty misogynists.
posted by TypographicalError at 3:48 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I mean, the fundamental problem here is that Deroir's initial reply seems like it might be good faith to most people (including me).

Let me toss a couple of examples at you:

A female friend posted on FB celebrating the fact that, for the first time, she held a plank position for 2 minutes and noting that she's working out to improve her balance. The first response was from a male in our industry who, without acknowledging her work, told her that tai chi is much better for her for balance issues.

I'm a member of a FB group devoted to making chain maille jewelry. A respected female artist posted a picture of a set of complex earrings she'd just finished, and noted that the last couple of rings were a real pain in the ass to close. The first comment was from a man asking her if she had considered weaving the earrings in an entirely different way.

In neither of those instances did the woman ask for advice or suggestions on what they should be doing, and in both instances a man decided that they knew better than the woman what she should be doing and told her.

Price posted a thread about something that she's worked with for many years. She did not ask for help solving a problem. On his own, Deroir decided that he knew more than she did and that telling her what she was doing wrong was appropriate. You can claim 'good faith', and I understand where that thinking comes from, but it's still incredibly dismissive of him to assume that he should be lecturing her.

"Good faith" conversations come from ongoing dialog. You *ask* if you can be of assistance and be prepared to hear and accept "no" for an answer. You *don't* tell someone what they're doing wrong.

The idea that Deroir is absolutely, provably, definitely a mansplainer who needs to be told off just doesn't ring true to me, so that acknowledgement is a little much to ask for.

I don't know Deroir. But I do know that his post is the epitome of mansplaining.
posted by hanov3r at 4:12 PM on July 12 [49 favorites]


Look, here's the thing.

It wasn't even her language, not really. It's not what she said or how she said it, not really. Being explained to and rolling eyes at being explained to is really common and annoying.

Does it usually get brigades? No. You know the common feature of when it does, though? When you refuse, even if just for a moment, to participate in the myth that every straight white dude is an individual above all and should and will always be an individual and will always be discussed as an individual with no one person representing a class of anything even a little negative.

I think of this in a maths way. Instead of every person who is an asshat to her being considered as:

1

1

1,

With that exact ridiculous amount of taking up a personal and opinionated space as an individual, she instead spoke of a collective of asshats with similar behaviour, e.g.

1+1+1=3.

("You add up to 3"/"No! I insist you calculate it as 2+1 to account for me!") is the impulse behind not all men, by the way.)

Debating what he said and how it came across is missing the point. Debating exactly what she said and if it could be said better is also missing the point. She dared to collectivise a group of people who consider themselves foremost individuals who are above collective grouping, and they lost their shit.

And in losing their shit, they don't expect to be taken as either 1+1+1, or

1

1

1

They expect to be treated as individuals put together to a greater, disproportionate level of power: 111. Three 1 1 1 together is not supposed to add to three. Three is meant to be three together as individuals, and form power equivalent to 111 others. Not to simply be 1+1+1, part of a chain of addition (and exasperation, and tedium) that equals a reaction and decision to and about the whole.

She dared, for a moment, to puncture that illusion of every one of them being a sole individual in all things at all times. And her employer decided to accept their framing that they were entitled to say 1+1+1=111, and that she was not entitled to say 1+1+1=3, and fired her.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:16 PM on July 12 [25 favorites]


I mean, the fundamental problem here is that Deroir's initial reply seems like it might be good faith to most people (including me).

No. The fundamental problem is that a group of men decided to harass a woman and get her fired. And when that worked, they decided to try and get a lot of other women fired.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:14 PM on July 12 [37 favorites]


bagel: Just like: maybe acknowledge the things the perpetrators did actually really happened and it would be better if they weren't done to people?

TypographicalError: The idea that Deroir is absolutely, provably, definitely a mansplainer who needs to be told off just doesn't ring true to me, so that acknowledgement is a little much to ask for.

Do you see how wildly you're moving the goalposts here? "Acknowledge this happened and it wasn't good" is nowhere near anything like "brand him as an 'absolute, provable, definite mansplainer'".

Also, even if that were happening, it's laughable to suggest that "being branded as a mansplainer" is somehow harmful to a guy. Speaking of which, have you heard about Jerry O'Connell's new show?
posted by Lexica at 6:26 PM on July 12 [18 favorites]


It's not a customer service job, she's not at work, a guy who may or may not have even purchased a video game is in no way a "client" in the way that you might be expected to maintain a certain conduct toward them if you met them outside of work.

As far as I'm concerned you can '@' whoever but the other side of that deal is that they are absolutely not required to be nice to you.
posted by atoxyl at 8:04 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]


Then isn't an issue that a key employee is divulging how their company produces games, off-duty? Even the fact that the essay was written, or the response that they "internally do the branching plotlines"... Aren't there policies about this sort of trade secret stuff? I play Blizzard games and everyone, employees and gamers, basically accept the framework (read: status quo) that staff can't just publicly divulge internal information. And that would include theoretical material on how their games can/can't work. If some boss found out that an employee was doing this, would that be a red flag or not? It doesn't look like Price had a customer-facing role similar to Ghostcrawler's, who for World of Warcraft had for a length of time been appointed to officially interact on the forums, and at his discretion he could discuss and explain design decisions about WoW. Are other companies just more lax about this?
posted by polymodus at 8:49 PM on July 12


It's not a trade secret to say that people playing MMORPGs often like to pretend to be the player character, and to avoid jarring their immersion the writing must be handled carefully to allow for the range of players and their pretenses. That's not a trade secret. That's bog standard.
posted by E. Whitehall at 9:01 PM on July 12 [16 favorites]


According to the Polygon article the real problem was the word "asshat".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:04 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I'm currently jobless and would like a job to save for retirement and keep me sane (I'm a bit at loose ends without a job). If I got a job that would fire me if I occasionally used the word "asshat" to apply in general example about a random user, I would probably preemptively quit. It's very important to me to be able to speak truth. I don't always deploy such descriptive epithets, but I reserve the right to use them on occasion, along with a really significant eyeroll. Especially on my personal social media accounts. For any reason.
posted by kalessin at 9:07 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


My understanding is that the stated problem wasn't "asshat", it was "Don't expect me to pretend to like you here."
posted by Jairus at 9:33 PM on July 12


Nobody has any idea whether the gamergate asshole fanbase has significant purchasing power. The people on forums are a tiny minority of almost any game's player base and are almost certainly not representative of the majority of players that don't participate in any of that stuff at all.

not to megaderail, but this is exactly the problem with right wing nonsense in general in the US today. a relatively small bunch of fuckos multiply their influence because they convince the mainstream (here, the game company, but easily substitute large media outlets) that they are important, and so mainstream actors then reify their importance, and before you know it, there's a "movement" that is "shaking" [gaming, america, whatever] to the core. these groups manage to be convincing to the mainstream organ because they fit the stereotype of who [mainstream entity] believes [gamers, voters, etc] are supposed to look like.

critically tho: there's no evidence that, absent the outsized attention paid to them, anyone would give a shit. do GGers *actually* have major purchasing power? who knows! will trump voters vote against dem senators simply because they oppose his supreme court nominee? i guess, maybe, beats me! and yet we *assume* they do and they will. and that assumption means we lose the game before it even begins.

the target of our counterattack has to be directed not at the GGers or the fascists or misogynists, but at the mainstream outlets that THEY target to leverage their power. End that cozy relationship, and they become just one more interest group among thousands.
posted by wibari at 10:46 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Then isn't an issue that a key employee is divulging how their company produces games, off-duty?

Yeah, we've debunked the ridiculous idea that she was obligated to be a 24/7 customer service agent, but surely there's something we can find her guilty of?
posted by straight at 11:56 PM on July 12 [27 favorites]


speaking while female
posted by poffin boffin at 12:18 AM on July 13 [27 favorites]


I don't know how I managed to contain my primal scream at the idea that talking about a feature/problem/challenge of games writing since the rise of "You look at the white door. There is a sign on it. The sign reads WELCOME in green letters. What would you like to do?" is some kind of super secret violation, but I did! I want a medal and I haven't been putting up with it on the daily on Twitter for however many years!
posted by E. Whitehall at 12:35 AM on July 13 [12 favorites]


According to the Polygon article the real problem was the word "asshat".

I've been holding back and mainly favoriting here because
A. am a woman
B. who likes games
C. on the internet
D. with opinions
E. also a job
F. as a manager
G. and I'm going to give anecdata

Would you like to know how many white men in positions of responsibility use words like "asshat", "asshole", "idiot", "jerkwad", etc. and so forth, and phrases such as "fuck off", "fuck you", "that's fucking dumb", "what the fuck are you even talking about", while on the job, in team meetings, in management meetings, in steering committees, during employee reviews, etc. and so forth?

How many of them do you think have been fired for that?
According to my full decade of anecdata in the corporate world: zero have been fired for that
What actually gets white men fired: not getting enough contracts
Hint: they can get contracts while telling people to fuck off, because they're white men
posted by fraula at 2:19 AM on July 13 [42 favorites]




Yes. I saw a person tweeting that earlier this week. Not gonna dig it out because anonymity, but I can verify that I saw that on my stream.
posted by kalessin at 6:47 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Eurogamer has some more examples of the fallout.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:03 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


If you prefer your takes in the form of satire, here's Hard Times and Point & Clickbait.

Meanwhile, have some tangential Reddit drama. (Tl;dr one of the founders of KotakuInAction has second thoughts and attempts to shut down the subreddit. Reddit admins intervene to save it.)
posted by tobascodagama at 12:30 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


The number of men launching into this thread to loudly proclaim that well, actually, Deroir's reply seems perfectly polite and reasonable and not mansplaining at all to them is just ... fucking ... typical.
posted by kafziel at 6:20 PM on July 13 [27 favorites]


Game devs have three choices interacting online: be a robot, log off — or risk the mob
Angry players may claim to want respect, but what’s really more respectful: a human who’ll tell you honestly if you’re getting on their nerves, or the fixed smile of a customer service rep who’s walled themselves off safely behind a feedback form and a scripted response?
posted by RobotHero at 9:18 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


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