ArenaNet has damaged its standing as an inclusive place to work, according to fired writer Jessica Price, who has accused the Guild Wars studio of misrepresenting itself to new employees.
Price and her colleague Peter Fries were let go following an exchange with a YouTuber on Twitter. You can read about the inciting incident here, but Price has now given an interview to Polygon in which she criticises ArenaNet for giving the wrong impression of its values.
"I was told during my interview and subsequent hiring communications that ArenaNet respected my willingness to speak up on issues in the industry and had no desire to muzzle me," she said. "I had, in my time there, zero warnings about my social media use. Everything I said on Twitter was consistent with what I've been saying for years and how I've been saying it."
"Doing the right thing is hard, sure, but doing it regularly makes it easier to keep doing it"Jessica Price
Price continued: "They promised me that I wouldn't have to check my identity at the door. They said that they admired my willingness to speak up about issues in the industry."
Price said that ArenaNet's executives talked often about the importance of diversity and fostering an inclusive workplace, through the actions of leadership and not just their words.
"And so it's devastating that a company talking all that talk folded like a cheap card table the first time their values were actually tested. Doing the right thing is hard, sure, but doing it regularly makes it easier to keep doing it. And the corollary to that is that capitulating makes it harder to stop capitulating."
According to Price, ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien has "painted a target on everyone's back" in choosing to fire her and Fries for what happened. Recruiters have contacted her to say they will steer candidates away from ArenaNet, and "game design professors" have said similar things about their students.
"This was objectively a customer engaging us respectfully and professionally"Mike O'Brien
O'Brien issued a statement in response to Price's interview, reiterating that Price was "representing the company" in the discussions on Reddit and Twitter, having identified herself as an employee in order to talk about a Guild Wars episode.
"The expectation was to behave professionally and respectfully, or at least walk away. Instead, she attacked," he told 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."
There is much more from both Price and O'Brien over on Polygon, and it's well worth your time to read it.