Game Workers Unite Releases Statement on ArenaNet Firings

Games industry labor rights organisation Game Workers Unite has issued a statement condemning the recent ArenaNet firings. They labelled it a knee-jerk reaction, and said the decision was made with “no dialogue, no nuance, no empathy.”

Last week, Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet fired two writers for tweets that they had made. On July 3, Jessica Price, who worked on the Guild Wars 2 narrative team, criticized a YouTuber and ArenaNet content partner for condescending her over the concept of branching dialogue. Fellow ArenaNet writer Peter Fries stood up to defend Price, who had received backlash for her tweets. On July 5, ArenaNet co-founder Mike O’Brien posted on Reddit and the Guild Wars 2 forum that the two had been fired.

Game Workers Unite, a labor rights organization that connects industry workers with unions, condemned ArenaNet for the firings in a statement on their website. “Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to … Even more startling was the firing of Peter Fries, who simply offered a polite, measured, and well-reasoned defense of his coworker.”

Game Workers Unite thinks that the firing of Price and Fries contributes to “normalizing a work environment in which employees’ personal social media accounts are monitored, where they are expected to perform PR for their company outside of working hours (with no compensation whatsoever, regardless of whether or not it is part of their job description) and where they can be arbitrarily fired with no warning.”

The organization has stated that they are standing in solidarity with Price and Fries, and feels that the move has not only violated their rights as employees, but has also emboldened toxic players in the Guild Wars 2 community. “ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players. This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”

You can read the full statement on their website, here.