Why was Jessica Price fired? Liam discusses a few issues raised by her departure as the former Narrative Designer from Guild Wars 2.
Okay, first off let’s deal with the answer. Then we’ll discuss what she actually did wrong.
Why was Jessica Price fired?
The simple answer is this: According to Mike O’Brien (president of ArenaNet, the makers of Guild Wars 2), it was because she “failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players”.
This can be seen in a post on the official Guild Wars 2 forum here.
The translation of this into human terms is: Because she thought that a Twitter thread was an appropriate place to bring her personal politics into a gaming space.
Today in being a female game dev:— Jessica Price (@Delafina777) July 4, 2018
"Allow me–a person who does not work with you–explain to you how you do your job." https://t.co/lmK0yJWqGB
For better or for worse, all well-known creators are essentially considered celebrities in the age of social media (in the sense that they’re expected to always be on the clock).
Before social media, celebrities at least had some time to themselves even if they couldn’t reliably eat anywhere for fear of being recognised (or whatever).
But this is the modern world, and now you’re always contactable via social media; now you don’t actually get ‘time off’. Ever. I mean, not if you’re doing your job properly.
I find this whole thing interesting because I actually agree with her views for the most part, but I refuse to accept her behaviour.
So here’s a quick review of her interactions in the thread in question, for your reading convenience:
- She tried to bring feminism into the argument without any seemingly valid reason. Politics should simply be avoided – where possible.
- She was already known as ‘the woman that dissed popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit after his passing’ which isn’t a good look. Many people mentioned this.
- She thinks that ‘not being at work’ means that she doesn’t still represent the company she works for.
- She used the phrase ‘Mansplaining Rando Asshat‘ to describe a fairly well-known content creator.
- She says that being a female game developer is tough, which I think is a fair statement.
- She thinks that people should make a distinction between ‘work-related social media’ and ‘personal social media’, which I also agree with – even if it’s not very realistic.
Is it fair that Jessica Price lost her job over this?
Being a game developer of any stripe would be tough. To paraphrase Jessica herself: “your job is to write stories for people that act like they hate you” (the picture above shows that in action).
Until fairly recently (and we still have a ways to go), our society was designed by and for males. This is particularly evident when considering gaming culture. So I think it’s fair to say that being a female game developer in a male-driven world would be a very tough job indeed.
I’d love it if society would just allow me to be myself without consequence. For instance, while I was writing this article it dawned on me that I should probably delete certain videos from my experimental YouTube channel (which I won’t name here). Not because Digital Fox asked me to (they haven’t), but because being involved with any company means that you represent them in everything you do.
The thing about social media is that we’re all literally one bad day away from becoming a living meme. To see a thing like this happen? It sends a shiver up my spine, as if someone is walking over my digital grave.
While I don’t really agree with the way that she handled herself, I also don’t think it’s fair to fire her. Why not retrain her, or even just put her on some kind of work probation?
Everyone makes mistakes. What happened to getting a second chance, to be given a chance to apologise?
The entire thing reeks of a social media witch hunt, similar to the whole Justine Sacco thing: When the world of social media is yelling that you should lose your job, what choice do your employers really have?
Even the guy who came to bat for her, Peter Fries, lost his job. He’s the other employee (a writer) mentioned in that forum post I linked to at the start of the article.
Yes they were both rude, but you don’t fire everyone who snaps at people in so-called ‘real life’, so why do it here? I mean, there’d literally be nobody left in the service industry in my hometown, and I assume it’s the same with yours.
She accidentally betrayed her ethics
I think it’s amazingly ironic that a Narrative Designer essentially lost her job because (it could be said that) she lost control of her own narrative on her own Twitter feed.
While the issues Jessica wanted to raise are more than valid, the way she did it means that anyone else who wants to raise the same issues will be fighting an uphill battle. She’s actually made it harder for female game developers because she’s given plenty of ammo to horrible people who say horrible things like “females are emotional.”
Which of course, is ridiculous – I don’t think it’s untrue to say that the majority of gamers raging for her to be fired were male and I’m pretty sure that ‘rage’ is an emotion too.
I think that this whole thing show us that modern game development has a lot to learn when it comes to equality, fairness, and personal/private space.
If you haven’t had your fill of controversy for the day, why not check out this article about how Blizzard are ripoff artists, or maybe this article about why We Happy Few could be reworked for an Australian classification?