IGDA Says Studios Need 'Clear Guidelines' For Social Media, Jessica Price Talks ArenaNet Firing

Turns out, Price wasn't allowed to plead her case before being let go from ArenaNet.

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In lieu of two developers being fired by ArenaNet due to interactions with the community on social media, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) says studios need to set expectations around social media. No matter whose side you take, there's a lot of grey area when it comes to the personal accounts of developers and IGDA executive director Jen MacLean says clear guidelines need to be laid out.

"Often, game developers love engaging with their player base, and the interactions can be very helpful for both the developers and players,"  says MacLean in a quote in GameIndustry.biz's report. "However, without clear information from an employer on social media use, interacting with people as a game developer can jeopardize someone's job and career, and even their personal safety.

In case you missed it, two Guild Wars 2 developers, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, were fired after Price said less-than-kind things in response to a GW2 community member trying to counter her take on an aspect of her job and Price defended her. The original story featured a short statement from ArenaNet, but both Price and ArenaNet's Mike O'Brien have said a lot more since. 

Jessica Price sat down with Polygon and shed some light on exactly how her release from ArenaNet went down, saying that the company "folded like a cheap card table" and she was "given no opportunity to argue my case".

“My manager was on vacation," she said to the publication. "[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.

Another interesting take from the report is that Price says she's had no previous problems regarding her social media interactions and that ArenaNet actually encouraged individualism and free expression. "They said that they admired my willingness to speak up about issues in the industry," she said. Her interaction with the YouTuber is routed in that, but, without even allowing her to plead her case, O'Brien didn't know that and his actions contradict that reality along with this more recent statement to Polygon:

"Concerns have been publicly raised that she was responding to harassment. It’s not my place to tell employees when they should or shouldn’t feel harassed. In this case, however, our employees could have chosen not to engage, and they could have brought the issue to the company, whereby we would have done everything we could to protect them.

We won’t tolerate harassment. When an employee feels harassed, we want them to bring the issue to us, so that we can protect the employee, deal with the issue, and use it to speak to the larger issue of harassment.

Whatever Jessica and Peter felt internally about the situation, this was objectively a customer engaging us respectfully and professionally, presenting a suggestion for our game. Any response from our company needed to be respectful and professional. A perceived slight doesn’t give us license to attack."

The deed is done when it comes to ArenaNet, Price, and Fries, but hopefully, this event and the IGDA will encourage studios to set understood standards so they don't end up having to react in such a fashion going forward. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.

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Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      July 10, 2018 11:44 AM

      "A perceived slight doesn’t give us license to attack."

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      July 10, 2018 7:51 PM

      I guess the suspicions that she doubled down when confronted were correct.

    • reply
      July 10, 2018 7:54 PM

      case you missed it, two Guild Wars 2 developers, Jessica Price and Peter Fries, were fired after Price said less-than-kind things in response to a GW2 community member trying to counter her take on an aspect of her job and Price Fries defended her. The original story featured a short statement from ArenaNet, but both Price and ArenaNet's Mike O'Brien have said a lot more since

      Is this what you meant?

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      July 10, 2018 8:14 PM

      That Polygon article is something.

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      July 10, 2018 8:15 PM

      It's kinda fucked that ANet expects all their devs to be PR people when on social media, even when their job isn't anywhere close to official PR or they have any PR training.

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        July 10, 2018 9:01 PM

        If they want to spout shit online, they need an anonymous account.

        If they're putting themselves out there as employees, or are pseudo celebs by virtue of the popularity of their work, then they sure are shit better behave, and possibly even have their posts screened by legal.

        Of course, in an ideal world there would be clear guidelines (and in fact there may even be with ArenaNet; is be surprised if they had nothing) but there is still a baseline level of maturity and responsibility on the shoulders of the devs.

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        July 10, 2018 9:23 PM

        That's bullshit. I can't think of many companies that don't have social media guidelines in their code of conduct. I read her tweets and it's clear that she stepped way over the line when dealing with their community. It was also clear that she was representing the company as well.

        I've been with my company longer than she was and I would be fired in a second if I ever treated a customer with such disrespect with my company tagged on my Twitter profile

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          July 11, 2018 4:30 AM

          Nothing about what she was originally tweeted was being presented as an official ANet statement or message. It was just her talking about one aspect of her writing. They had already had an ANet ran thing earlier, and the main difference is that they had actual PR people involved in the process.

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            July 11, 2018 4:36 AM

            And I understand that companies usually have some sort of social media rules. imo the way ANet has theirs is BS because they expect all their devs to be PR without having PR experience, and they don't seem to have any escalation to their employee punishment, as in they don't issue a warning, offer training after an apology or anything; it's just straight to termination.

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              July 11, 2018 8:37 AM

              Zollington, your statements are transparently false. Stop lying about the story.

              Jessica Price identified herself as an ArenaNet employee on her Twitter profile. She was tweeting about her work as an ArenaNet employee. There is nothing ambiguous about this at all, and this is all by her own choice. No one forced her to associate her personal social media with her work, and no one forced her to begin discussing her work on her social media.

              If you are a developer and you begin making sexist attacks directed at your customers you will probably get in trouble. If you are making sexist attacks directed at your customers while presenting yourself as an employee of the company and directly responding to their questions about your work at the company, expect to get fired.

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                July 11, 2018 9:46 AM

                Show me where her twitter thread is an official statement coming from ANet, or an official ANet sanctioned community interaction. Because there's a reason those don't happen on a random dev account on twitter, and instead are usually on the official company's account. One did happen right before this on Reddit through an AMA.

                This is like saying a concept level designer talking about how they design an aspect of their levels is presenting a company message.

                And I'm not saying her reaction wasn't bad. It was. The reaction from ANet was totally out of line, and doing it in a public matter only shows that they will cowtow to the next bullshit reddit/twitter hatemob that shows up.

                To be frank, if there wasn't anything political in her responses, I would guarantee both of them would still have a job, and this wouldn't have even ended up being as big of a story as it now is.

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                  July 11, 2018 9:47 AM

                  Oh, and next time you reply, how about you use your actual account instead?

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                  July 11, 2018 10:28 AM

                  It's very simple. Any developer who identifies themselves by their role in a company, and talks about their work at that company publicly, including interacting with fans, is representing the company. Anyone who is a professional understands and respects this. When you join a studio you are going to sign numerous agreements, among which are agreements conduct yourself in a professional way that doesn't reflect poorly on the company, not to express hatred of people over protected characteristics like race and sex that could bring liability to the company, and and so on.

                  Any developer behaving this way publicly would be fired. If Mike O'Brien were to go on his "private" Twitter tomorrow and respond in a similar fashion to a fan he would also be fired. The political issue here is irrelevant and is only being used for deception by news outlets like Polygon & Kotaku to turn an issue that focuses on professionalism into drama where none should exist.

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                    July 11, 2018 11:06 AM

                    The political aspect is absolutely relevant. You yourself quantify her remarks as sexist. My point is if that part wasn't in her response, I'm sure the overblown reaction from ANet, and the gw2 subreddit at large, wouldn't have happened the way it did.

                    And again, I'm not saying her response wasn't out of line. I'm saying that the response from arena net was an overreaction, and should have been handled better.

                    Still waiting for you to use your actual account, btw.

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                      July 15, 2018 11:58 PM

                      What does it matter which account he's using? You're coming off as quite irrational.

                      Price mocked a dead YouTuber in May. She's an a**hole, it has absolutely nothing to do with gender.

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                        July 16, 2018 5:12 AM

                        Her mocking TB has nothing to do with her firing from ANet.

                        I find it odd that you'd insist this has nothing to do with gender, because after the firing there were developers that got messages sent to their employers asking for their termination. And all of them were women. If you don't think the hate mobs that have sprung up have anything to do with the fact that these developers are women, you're not paying close enough attention.

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                          July 16, 2018 11:31 AM

                          I never said it had anything to do with her firing from ANet.. ;)

                          I'm so sorry, you must have been through a lot!

                          • reply
                            July 16, 2018 1:59 PM

                            So you just brought it up for no reason, then? Since it doesn't pertain to what we're talking about at all.

                            I can tell you have nothing of substance to offer in this conversation since you're falling back on faux concern statements already; so good on ya for that heads up :^)

    • reply
      July 10, 2018 8:54 PM

      “He wanted to vent his anger, and he had the power to command a woman an employee to stand there while he took his feelings out on her, so he did.”

      Dunno. Messed up situation

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      July 10, 2018 10:09 PM

      She should certainly not have been fired for just this behaviour. That said, she played the sexism card which, if you followed the tweets, is completely uncalled-for, and in my opinion, sets a more dangerous and damaging precedent than whatever precedent she is claiming.
      Sexism and sexual harassment should be taken seriously: it’s not something to casually and reactively claim every time you’re feeling offended - especially when the “harasser” is being polite and respectful in their interaction.
      Just because a man disagrees with you does not always mean he is being a sexist, misogynist monster. Maybe he is just disagreeing with you as an equal human being.