Responsible Use of Social Media

As reported by PCGamer, the International Game Developer Association (IGDA) is using the ArenaNet firing of Jessica Price as an opportunity to question game companies about their social media policies. Specifically, they have a list of a few dozen questions that game devs should be asking their employers. These are good questions to ask. My suspicion though, is that – much like anyone employed anywhere in the last 20+ years – these policies are already on the books.

So, experiment time. Next time you are at work, please look up your own company’s Responsible Use of Social Media policy. It might be listed under Professionalism/Code of Ethics, and/or Professional Code of Conduct instead. A lot of the time these documents are internal-use only, but here is a refreshingly plain-language example from Adidas (PDF). Relevant bullet-points:

  • Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the adidas Group’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory (like religion or politics). If you are in a virtual world please behave accordingly. We all appreciate respect.
  • Think about consequences. Imagine you are sitting in a sales meeting and your client brings out a printout of a colleague’s post that states that the product you were about to sell “completely sucks”. Talk about a tough pitch. So, please remember: Using your public voice either internally or externally to trash or embarrass your employer, your customers, your co-workers or even yourself is not okay – and not very smart.

Here’s a page from 2009 talking about the the LA Times’ policy. Relevant:

SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES
Social media networks – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others – provide useful reporting and promotional tools for Los Angeles Times journalists. The Times’ Ethics Guidelines will largely cover issues that arise when using social media, but this brief document should provide additional guidance on specific questions.

Basic Principles

• Integrity is our most important commodity: Avoid writing or posting anything that would embarrass The Times or compromise your ability to do your job.

• Assume that your professional life and your personal life will merge online regardless of your care in separating them.

• Even if you use privacy tools (determining who can view your page or profile, for instance), assume that everything you write, exchange or receive on a social media site is public.

• Just as political bumper stickers and lawn signs are to be avoided in the offline world, so too are partisan expressions online.

Now, Jessica Price has been quoted many a time as saying that she brought up her social activism during the hiring process at ArenaNet, and that they supported and encouraged her to continue. I will believe that on face value, as I can certainly imagine ArenaNet doing so.

Here’s the one, crucially important detail: Price was not fired for expressing feminist views or activism. She was fired for the much more mundane reason of insulting her employer’s customers.

Polygon has another article up lamenting Price’s firing as “reinforcing gaming culture’s worst impulses.” Considering it was Price who called a completely harmless, inoffensive streamer a “rando asshat” for daring to question her expertise – on top of specifically stating she does not have to pretend to like anyone – you’d be excused if you originally thought the article was defending Deroir.

Actually, you wouldn’t be excused, because the article is such poorly written garbage that any editor should be embarrassed for having it published:

[…] ArenaNet’s president, Mike O’Brien, issued a statement on Guild Wars 2’s forums stating that “two of our employees failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players.”

O’Brien’s statement is actively dangerous; it takes at face value bad-faith arguments made by aggrieved people online who may or may not be players. “Their attacks on the community were unacceptable,” O’Brien wrote of Fries and Price. “As a result, they’re no longer with the company.”

It’s not an accurate statement, and the precedent it sets is a bad one for gaming. Fans and developers bristling at each other on social media is a common fact of gaming, but what makes this situation so unique is O’Brien’s inability to act like an adult.

Ah, so it was O’Brien’s inability to act like an adult that is the real problem here? Next paragraph:

It might be a controversial thing to say right now, but Deroir’s original tweet wasn’t overtly offensive. Players who think they know more than they actually do about development are common, and the belief isn’t always rooted in sexism. But Deroir’s lack of empathy for what happened throughout this controversy is notable, as is his claim that he’s a feminist. For that to be more than a word in a tweet, he should have understood how his tweet came off, and where Price’s anger came from.

The root of Price’s anger is completely immaterial to anything. Again, check your own company’s Responsible Use of Social Media policy. Is there any provision in there for “long history of systemic oppression?” I doubt it. That’s not because there isn’t a long history of systemic oppression, mansplaining, or microaggressions. It’s because they don’t matter in context. An explanation of a behavior is not an excuse for it. Price berated a customer, and she was fired for doing so.

The fundamental error from the Polygon article though, is this buried sentence:

Price’s response makes perfect sense in that context, and is the sort of social media venting that is hardly seen as scandalous in 2018.

People lose their jobs for less all the goddamn time, especially in 2018.

I’m bringing this all up again because I legitimately believe nearly every other company would have done the same thing as ArenaNet in this scenario. In fact, I reached out to Polygon to get a copy of their own policies on the matter. If they respond, I will either update this post or write another one. In the meantime, you can look at their Community Guidelines, which includes:

Personal attacks: Don’t attack or insult another user. It’s not helpful and it doesn’t make Polygon a friendly place. This includes referring to other people as trolls, fanboys, sheep, white knights, etc. If you’re thinking of using a specific term such as a racial or derogatory insult, think again about why that’s a bad idea, and don’t do it

Maybe Polygon would be fine with one of their editors talking about “hurt manfeels” and “rando asshats” when responding to their readers, industry sources, or business partners. Perhaps they would have let it slide, or gave Price the opportunity to apologize or retract her statements (assuming she would).

I guess we will just have to wait and see, because this sort of thing is more a matter of when, not if.

Employees always represent the company they work for, 100% of the time. Right now, most of us skate through life just fine either because of anonymity or because companies lack the resources to constantly monitor our social media activity until and unless it shows up in the papers. Polygon can blame “toxic fandom” and GamerGate for increasing awareness of Jessica Price’s tweets, but none of that actually accounts for why the story caught fire in the first place: Price’s words being legitimately outrageous overreaction. That’s why the calls of concern over a scary future in which GamerGate can get anyone fired are so ridiculous. She wasn’t fired because of social justice or feminism, she was fired for publicly berating customers.

When your brand is dependent upon transactional relationships with dedicated fans, belittling one who has his own in-game NPC is probably not the best of ideas.

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Posted on July 12, 2018, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. mountainash13

    “Here’s the one, crucially important detail: Price was not fired for expressing feminist views or activism. She was fired for the much more mundane reason of insulting her employer’s customers.”

    This is 100% correct, and Polygon probably knows this, too. Thing is, mundane stories don’t sell. With the signal-to-noise ratio being so much lower these days due to the sheer volume of sources, generating controversy to differentiate yourself from the crowd has become paramount. The age-old principles of factual reporting and accurate representation of an event just aren’t as important anymore. This applies to most media outlets these days, regardless of size or reputation, it seems.

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  2. The LA Times (and Polygon for that matter, if they reply to you) are a slightly different kind of beast, being news organisations. And Adidas had a paragraph in there about social media disclaimers and very few specialists actually representing the company publicly that I think ANet could have learned from – if ANet had a coherent social media policy at all, which remains astonishingly unclear. The whole thing, after all, turns on Price’s (and presumably Fries’s) seemingly genuine belief that they were ‘off the clock’ and while Price may be choleric they were both veterans with the company, aware of how social media works, and unlikely to be complete idiots.

    They weren’t even made to feel the need for basic, flimsy ‘my views are my own and do not represent…’ caveats in their Twitter profiles, far as I can tell, right up until the point they got fired. Management what?

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    • It boggles my mind that these “veterans” actually believed it mattered whether they were on the clock or not. Did they think a McDonald employee could trash customers on Facebook with impunity the minute after they hung up their apron?

      In any case, both Price and Fries were active on a Reddit AMA a little over a week ago, so they were absolutely customer-facing in that regard. Not sure a disclaimer about not representing ArenaNet on Twitter would be enough to shield them from the (legitimate, IMO) follow-up criticism that they actually hate the customers they work for, e.g. “I don’t have to pretend to like you here.” Of course, you don’t actually have to like customers, but you don’t get to publicly say you don’t, especially not after an important product launch. At least, not without consequences.

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    • Price wasn’t Arena.net veteran, she was hired just a year ago and even then was very controversial because of how and why she was fired from her previous place. As it appears, sceptics were right.

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      • Yes, that’s true. I misinterpreted one of her statements; she’s been in narrative design (but not with ANet) for a decade. Fries, however, has been working for them for 13 years.

        I’m not sure whether your correction erodes or bolsters my point, though. If Price had a volatile history, and they decided to hire her with relevant assurances on both sides, then it’s a massive failure of management not to set crystal clear boundaries. Under these conditions, she really should not have been left under the misapprehension that shooting the breeze about her work on July 4th was anything other than Official PR. And, again, it wasn’t just a delusion from Price’s oh-so-crazy mind, it was explicitly articulated by Fries and we are really not talking about him enough.

        Not to claim vindication just yet, but if you consider today’s pieces on this from Eurogamer and Kotaku, ANet’s industry peers seem less than impressed, and management/social media policy seems to be the focus of lessons learned. I will be interested to learn a) whether this is anything beyond a cost-free piling-on to seem supportive of the underdogs, and b) if it is, whether the thrust of social media policy revisions will be in the direction of ‘you are always on the clock’ or ‘we will carve out plausible deniability for ourselves with regard to what you say off the clock’.

        My guess is the latter, because I find myself in stark disagreement with Azuriel – the idea that you represent your employer on private social media 100% of the time is not just bad for you, but disruptive to companies themselves. And things that are bad for corporations in our society have a knack for eventually going away.

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      • How do you imagine the “plausible deniability” is going to work? Are we going to see that Subnautica sound designer still on the dev team? Will Papa John still be on pizza boxes?

        The public (e.g. the mob) is not going to make distinctions between a person’s statements and the company itself. And that makes complete, intuitive sense. If I found out my child’s teacher was at a White Nationalist parade – even if it occurred on a Saturday! – I’d be on the phone with the superintendent that evening. That is, strictly speaking, not fair. There were two FBI agents called in to testify in Congress last week regarding text messages they sent to each other. Can they be anti-Trump personally, but still be impartial professionally? Yes or no?

        If Yes, we have to put up with the Subnautica guy and Roseanne and Papa John.

        If No, well, here we are.

        I understand it’s somewhat of a false dichotomy to equate racism and being mean to customers, but the point is whether or not businesses have the right to fire employees for their (private) opinions. And we already know that answer in the US.

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      • @Azuriel 5:23 – Yeah, you are stacking the deck a little here. First and foremost, let us please not fall into the ‘very fine people on both sides’ trap here. Participation in a White Nationalist parade is not the same as participation in, say, a Black Lives Matter rally, no matter how ardently white nationalists wish to convince us otherwise. And women on social media do endure pressures distinct from those on men, as you acknowledge elsewhere.

        Would you call the superintendent if the teacher were ‘only’ a member of a survivalist anti-government militia? What if he had simply called someone a libtard asshole on Facebook, as did that (unfired) Akima director referred to in Juli Briskman’s suit? Would you care as much if a neo-nazi ran your local convenience shop instead of teaching your children?

        I’m also not arguing that under at-will employment businesses do not have the legal right to fire people… at will. They do, that’s simply a fact. I am arguing that while they do have that right, it’s not desirable for them to play into the expectation of dismissal every time someone commits an apolitical faux pas on their own time, and it’s in their interest to institute dilatory norms that reduce PR liability. Such as offence review processes (to reassure the mob that something is being done) and clearer delineation between private and public accounts. Hardly a complete template, I realise, but that’s the direction in which most studios mentioned in the Kotaku piece claim to be moving.

        But even if I am entirely wrong about this and the main fallout will be explicit policies for everyone to watch what they say on social media at all times, that is still the kind of managerial improvement that might have saved Price and Fries’s jobs.

        As to your direct question: Yes. We already live with the fact that people known to hold opposite political views occupy key roles in society. Your FBI agent example is ironic because we already know that most FBI agents (and other LEOs) lean to the right – indeed, there’d been some briefing here and there that Comey’s fateful reopening of the email investigation was partly motivated by internal pressure from his agents. Yet Americans live with that knowledge and assume (or used to) that the FBI can function impartially. Robert Mueller is a G.W. Bush-appointed conservative Republican yet Democrats appear to be very committed to accepting his findings. Conversely, most American educators lean left, and parents generally live with that, too. There are counter-examples like judicial recusal but on the whole, the pattern holds.

        Does that leave us with racist Roseanne and transphobic Chylinski still employed? (John Schnatter was rather clearly ‘on the clock’ at the time of his remark and the literal face of his company) Perhaps, but not necessarily. That’s the problem with your political comparison, unfortunately. Their transgressions went beyond mere rudeness or even ordinary bias. And if ANet, symmetrically, had wanted to make a stand on behalf of aggrieved men against weary feminists like Price, well, that’s that whole other discussion we’re trying not to have, is it not? O’Brien’s remark about Price’s and Fries’s “attacks on our community” sure smelled like trying to hoist his actions up into that zone.

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      • First and foremost, let us please not fall into the ‘very fine people on both sides’ trap here.

        I am absolutely not. Both sides are not the same. American conservatism is a cultural pox that brings out the worst in humanity.

        I just find it difficult to imagine a scenario (outside unions) where Price is protected when the Subnautica guy is not. The common denominator in these incidents is attention – something that is so easy to manufacture, it really isn’t much protection at all. Your mention of the Akima director is on point: the bicyclist was fired because her photo went viral, but the director was not because it didn’t. Or perhaps because the “government contracting firm” knows who is running the White House, and which incident is more likely to cost them business.

        I disagree with the notion that companies are going to try and build walls around social media and pretend like it doesn’t affect them because there is some disclaimer. Companies spend millions of dollars on advertisements to influence customers in subtle ways. Money that instantly evaporates when some off-the-clock employee does something dumb that attracts attention on Facebook or wherever. We are firmly in the realm of 24/7 Outrage News, and fighting that cultural tide is, well, like fighting the ocean.

        O’Brien’s remark about Price’s and Fries’s “attacks on our community” sure smelled like trying to hoist his actions up into that zone.

        I suspect that is where a lot of the disagreement comes. It strains credulity to imagine that A) O’Brien is a closet GamerGater, B) ArenaNet caters to that crowd, or C) this was anything other than what O’Brien said it is. Price did attack the GW2 community. We can debate whether or not Deroir deserved to be called out specifically, instead of any other way that could have been handled. But Price continued on with these two snippets, which I quoted yesterday:

        Since we’ve got a lot of hurt manfeels today, lemme make something clear: this is my feed. I’m not on the clock here. I’m not your emotional courtesan just because I’m a dev. Don’t expect me to pretend to like you here.

        The attempts of fans to exert ownership over our personal lives and times are something I am hardcore about stopping. You don’t own me, and I don’t owe you.

        “Manfeels” aside, if ArenaNet is trying to foster the notion that the devs listen to the community and are reactive to those needs, the above sabotages that. Deep down, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that devs probably don’t like players, on or off the clock. But if the company is making a big marketing push to create that illusion – such as when ArenaNet did an AMA days before the incident – anything that runs counter to that narrative is an obstacle that should be removed.

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    • I’ve read through your replies, but just to be clear over here in retail I can be sacked for anything that causes any kinda negative blow back on my employer. I’m in the UK and I work in retail (supermarket which one doesnt matter they have same policies its industry standard).

      I’ll give you 2 things to consider: first I got told to stop using Fb by my bosses boss the deputy store manger. I had been posting pics of food that I had cooked. It falls foul of UK advertising laws, similarly I can’t talk about movies I enjoyed seeing or songs I like (we sell cds and dvds). Second the HR manager told me of a girl who got sacked in one of our other stores. She had been to a house party with friends, they ran outta wine and she got in her car and drove to a corner store to buy more at 10pm. Stopped, breathalysed, arrested, convicted, loses her DL. Now they don’t care about that. We employ criminals (as long as your not a thief) and we dont care if you get a conviction as long as you can still show up for work. What got her fired for gross misconduct was the *local paper* that ran the story with her listed as *my employers* employee. Done. Game over. Security called and dont ask for a reference. You list my employer in anyway negatively compared to me and Im sacked. You report I made your doggy whimper in fear as I walked past it in my uniform and now you wont shop there AND that makes national press I am sacked.

      Thats retail.You CANNOT in 2018 embarrass your employer. Thats the rule alot of us live by and we are working hand to mouth here. I don’t have the savings to survive 3 months of being unemployable. So I watch my mouth and I watch my fingers in those arenas where it might blow back on my company.

      Price didnt. More importantly she hasn’t learnt the lesson either. Which means she will at some point in the future have to be taught it again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @nightgerbil 5:05 – I’m not completely sure if that was to me, since WP is formatting this reply tree a little weirdly. If it was, I have nothing but scorn for the way UK labour arrangements have degenerated over the last fifty years, and I would happily derail this thread with a rant about zero-hours contracts, etc. Your examples are interesting, though, particularly the one involving the girl, the DUI and the paper which neatly replaces social media with traditional media.

        I’ll be the first to say that retail workers shouldn’t be as disposable as you are, but here’s the moral of your story for me: your managers at the supermarket still did a better job of laying out what the workplace expects of you in your leisure time than ANet managers apparently did for Price and Fries.

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  3. I think the real problem is not whether she was right or wrong, or whether she was rightfully fired. The problem is that it set a precedent and this is like a reverse-martyrdom.

    This signalled “it’s okay to lobby for getting people fired for ANY reason”, cf. https://twitter.com/beaglerush/status/1017050472681598978 or https://twitter.com/Ettin64/status/1016893122565947392

    So even if one argues firing her was technically correct (the best kind of correct[tm]) for the overall discourse/ecosystem/community (community of gamers in general, lol) it maybe wasn’t good.

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    • It sets a precedent… for firing people who bad-mouth customers.

      That’s it. How many form letters does it take to get a woman developer fired for nerfing your class? Or introducing a gay character into the narrative? There isn’t a number, because it won’t happen. GamerGate did not simply lurch back into existence last week – they have been trying to get people fired for years. They apparently went after Price when she was first hired at ArenaNet. And when did she ultimately get fired? After she bad-mouthed customers.

      You have to pretend to like customers of the company you work for. That’s a pretty universal rule, likely codified in the Professional Code of Conduct (etc) that you acknowledged by signing the paperwork that got you hired at whatever job you currently work at. Can you get snarky sometimes? Probably. The EVE devs apparently get a lot of latitude for trolling (but probably not trolling Goonswarm). But at the end of the day, calling customers “rando asshats” is possibly going to cost your employer money, and thus your job.

      Now, I will concede that there might be a chilling effect in terms of bringing up evidence of customer harassment. For example, in your first Twitter link, the evidence that Deroir was actually mansplaining and being sexist himself, etc. However, I doubt ArenaNet would see Twitter as the proper forum to hash all that out – Price could have brought it up at work the next day, and perhaps O’Brien (or whomever) could have talked to Deroir through official channels about how his words came across.

      The ultimate takeaway though, is that A) there is no such thing as a “private” social media account, and B) you always represent the company you work for. Neither of those things have changed – they have always been the case.

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      • So, I guess I’m a little confused here. Yes, ArenaNet can fire here pretty much at will (state law in Washington is that it’s an “at will” state, so yeah). This result, unexpected or not, is totally legal. Yet not more than 12 hours before, you agreed, generally, that corporations have way too much power over employees. Pardon me if I don’t find that a bit compartmentalized. Maybe there is some special circumstance I don’t understand here, but Price’s fate seems just as much a part of that overreach as any other, customer service notwithstanding.

        On the flip side of things, ArenaNet isn’t following a pattern even close to modern corporate practices. Most companies make firing decisions in as opaque a state as they can. The only time I have seen a corporation announce people essentially being fired is when they’ve had a massive impact on the bottom line, have engaged in criminal acts, or unethical behavior. I was very surprised at how vocal they were about their reasons for letting them go and why they did, hence my earlier argument that they don’t have an HR process, or maybe even a team.

        As for Deroir, his behavior is reprehensible, if somewhat hidden behind the bookends of his tweets. But make no mistake, he is telling her what to do, not asking a question. He never presents any level of curiosity, as commenters @ggerritts and @micheinnz in the @beaglerush twitter thread imply. All of that is expected of Price. She is expected to take his statements as questions, yet he could easily have said “why didn’t you use branching dialogue options instead? cost? something else?” No, he states dialogue trees are a solution, then complains when she says it’s him telling her how to do her job with “well, I was just trying to have a dialogue”. Statements can start a dialogue, but if there’s blowback, it’s on the one making the statement, not the ones who react to it. We all learned that back in college, no? To say that he has NO culpability here, or that Price was wrong to feel the way she did is just being blind to the situation.

        And there’s more here. It was on her day off, she was sharing something of the nuts and bolts of MMO storytelling that hardly ever gets relayed to players, something that I have seen endless players complain about (not getting dev interaction) across MMOs and his response wasn’t “hey thanks for the time and insight, what about this?” it was very much back seat dev work. Most game devs would think “hey, it’s my first extra day off since that big crunch, maybe I should chill, things are going to be building up right after this”. Instead she was so excited (geeky even) to share this, Price spent part of that day off explaining the limits of the storytelling the team has chosen (and don’t kid yourself, it’s a team, not just an individual) to give players the experience they get, hence the reason I think this will have lasting impacts on how ArenaNet devs interact with their community.

        Anyhow, long, but hopefully clear.

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      • My feelings on corporations are indeed very compartmentalized. But when people consistently vote against unions, vote against universal healthcare, and otherwise vote themselves onto the altar of unchecked capitalism… well, fine. I chose one way, more people chose the other, so I shall play by the rules given to me.

        On the flip side of things, ArenaNet isn’t following a pattern even close to modern corporate practices. (etc)

        On the contrary, I think ArenaNet is precisely following the pattern of practice when someone makes very public statements on social media that garner bad publicity. Remember that Google engineer with the diversity memo? Not to mention the dozens of examples from people who express racist/sexist views (Roseanne, etc). In general? Yeah, companies try to keep things under wraps. But when the controversy starts online, they have to respond to it online, otherwise it is a tacit acceptance of the behavior.

        As for Deroir, describing his behavior as “reprehensible” is, frankly, absurd and besides the point. Price is responsible for her own behavior, full stop. Could Deroir have wrote his tweets better? Sure. Maybe. I don’t actually know though, because I’m not certain Price could have accepted criticism of any kind.

        That’s the other side of what bothers me about this entire fiasco. “I’ve been doing this for a DECADE,” as if that matters at all, in any capacity. I don’t care if someone was working on games for 25 years or 25 minutes. Game design is an art. Price may have decided that the way GW2’s commander plays out is the best (or only) way it can work, but that’s not objectively true. And even if it were somehow the best or only way, that doesn’t mean it makes the experience fun for the player.

        The entire point of this blog is being a “backseat dev.” If something isn’t fun, I’m going to explain why it’s not fun as convincingly as I can, and that the designers should have done X instead. It’s entirely possible X is, in fact, a terrible idea and would have made the game even less fun. But I’m never going to find out if that’s the case without putting it out there.

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      • (Posting outside the thread, looks bugged. FYWP)

        This is why we can’t have nice things. Every time someone gets something, or every time we need to stand with someone, it’s easier to just stand with the side that so far hasn’t pissed you off or that it might be easier to identify with. It takes resilience to stand for those you don’t always agree with, or even dislike, but to look at a longer view of how we change things and at the very least some semblance of making things right now, case by case. I don’t mean don’t be someone you aren’t, but if you want to make changes you’ll need to support the individual who the corp, or the money, attacks, regardless of their “innocence”. Sometimes the “underdog” from a long term perspective isn’t necessarily the underdog in a specific situation. Sometimes you embrace the less bad problem.

        Does it help that the entity that wants to be the game workers union, Game Workers Unite thinks this is not the way either of them should be treated? Does it help that many companies are explicitly stating that ArenaNet’s position is against their own policies and desires? Did what John Teasdale said in that long twitter stream resonate with you? Does John Lethbridge’s fisking of the O’Brien/ArenaNet statement, or his later response regarding the power we are giving away to companies at least give you pause? I understand it’s a lot to throw out, but it seems like there’s a lot more to this incident than some customer service screw-up. The fact that if we make everyone constantly responsible to the company, even in off time, we are essentially telling people they have to perform unpaid customer service constantly, and I can guarantee women will be expected to do more of this unpaid emotional work than men, because that demand society makes on falls disproportionately on women more than men.

        I don’t want to fisk Derior’s tweets, nor should I have to, essentially because John Teasdale already did. He wasn’t being polite, except as a passive-aggressive way to create a shield for himself. He reacted with an extremely passive aggressive response that demands Price treat him with deference, regardless of how it was bookened. Maybe she shouldn’t have reacted that way, but it certainly wasn’t a firing offense, and ArenaNet really exacerbated it by essentially claiming her reaction to Derior was an attack on the community.

        As for your own blog, that really is apples and red clown noses. You aren’t going onto a limited-character media platform, on another person’s personal page, and demanding they give your opinion the level of attention I think we saw demanded there. You’ve chosen a medium with less limits, which allows you to be expansive and nuanced. If a dev finds a post, they might actually comment on the blog, respond in an email, or even create a blog of their own to respond, but that is up to them. Derior was much more invasive.

        As a related statement, if I am being too demanding, or clueless, tell me to fuck right off.

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      • […] you’ll need to support the individual who the corp, or the money, attacks, regardless of their “innocence”.

        That’s a bit too “ends justify the means” for my liking.

        I’m glad the GWU is against the decision, as that’s the only possible way anything gets changed from an employee social media standpoint. Now, we should quiz every game designer who spoke up about this topic why they aren’t unionizing tomorrow.

        Did you read those company policies you linked, by the way? The one from Kitfox would still have kept the door open for Price to be disciplined/fired since she was, in fact, “unprofessional or disrespectful” to a customer. The Opaque Space one doesn’t mention anything at all, as to what their internal Code of Conduct says about calling customers out online.

        And that point has been conspicuously absent in all of this, including in the fisking of Deroir. Does it really matter if he was being passive-aggressive? Teasdale is going into excruciating detail as to why Price might have been justified in being mad. I can see it being important, rhetorically, in breaking all those layers down. But none of that absolves Price from her follow-up responses, and I would say I’m surprised that Teasdale (etc) don’t bring that up, but I’m really not. As you said, it’s more important to “win” than be consistent.

        As for John Lethbridge, this:

        See, the example I used is super relevant, because if we allow personal accounts speaking about their own work in the present to be a firing offence, then there’s nothing stopping a previous employer from suing you for talking about work you did previously, under the same guise.

        …is complete nonsense. For one, it’s already “allowed” to fired people for whatever reason, under At Will Employment. Second, as this very blog post points out, there is almost always cause available under current policy to fire someone for being rude (etc) on social media, even in non-At Will states. Check your Code of Conduct policy – there probably isn’t an “off the clock” provision. Finally, what is this hypothetical previous employer suing you for, exactly? Slander or libel? Because they can already do that too. Unless he’s trying to suggest they sue you for being rude to some future company’s customers, as if that makes any fucking sense to anyone. There isn’t any slippery slope here.

        On a final note, one place we likely significantly diverge is the notion that game designers should not be questioned. I believe Price’s 10 years of design experience means fuck-all, same as Fries’ 25 years, same as Ghostcrawler’s, same as anyone’s. Design is an art, not a science. I’ve been writing words for over 30 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make poor posts or bad arguments (including possibly this one!).

        So when everyone is talking about the gall of Deroir to come into Price’s space to question her… that’s actually concerning to me. I’m not seeing a huge distinction being made between “don’t question her that way” and “don’t question her.” I completely understand that Price (and women in general) are questioned all the time in their daily lives, moreso than their male peers, and often in condescending ways. It’s a huge, cosmic injustice.

        …but I will fight against anyone who suggests or implies designers shouldn’t be questioned. Players aren’t entitled to answers, anymore than reporters are entitled to answers. But it’s important to me, philosophically, that we can still question “authority,” provide feedback, etc. What they choose to do with it, up to and including ignoring it, is on them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This guy’s entire premise is laughable garbage. We’re to believe Derior was passive aggressively attacking Jessica on her Twitter feed. Here he was talking about her the day before: https://clips.twitch.tv/CrypticMistyStingrayDxCat. Yes this is clearly an antagonistic troll.

        This guy’s attitude would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous. Soon I will have to answer to a mob of his people for simply looking at a woman or a person of color without having the proper consent forms filed.

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      • Let’s be crystal clear here. The reason ultra-progressive media outlets like Polygon and Kotaku are raising a stink and misrepresenting what happened is not because they are taking a principled stand against customers complaining about an employee’s behavior. They’re all for that kind of thing as long as it’s happening to people on the other side of the aisle (see: Simon Chylinski, David Vavra, etc). They are objecting to the firing of an employee because she happens to have political viewpoints in common with them. And probably because she’s female (otherwise I imagine we’d see more attention paid to Fries).

        Does anyone actually believe these journalists would be complaining like this if the employee in question were male and openly right-leaning?

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      • And by David Vavra I of course meant Daniel Vavra.

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    • Also lets not pretend one (non) example of Reddit getting someone fired is somehow going to change anything. This isn’t a precedent in any way. Mobs have done this before, sometimes with success, sometimes without. This is just another (non) example of a pretty normal and healthy pattern (bad conduct getting highlighted and justly punished).

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  4. The problem with these Social Media policies is that if you keep them, you might as well not have social media at all, as you are forbidden to say anything besides idle chat and cat pictures.

    People have controversial opinions. The idea that a private company can censor that makes 1984 look a nice place… or creates a world where companies are all politically/ideologically oriented. Conservative restaurant with Lock Her Up T-shirts and liberal ones with “White males ruined everything” coctails.

    Is that the kind of World you want to live in? How can people of different opinion discuss ANYTHING if deviation from the canon can mean losing their job.

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    • Social media engagement is a huge avenue for “free” advertisement and word-of-mouth. That’s why these companies engage with customers online, despite it being so risky having non-PR employees do the talking. Having devs interact with the community goes a long way in building rapport, and can really set a game company apart from their competition. You may stick around longer in an MMO (or whatever) if you feel like it’s possible to change the game’s direction via discussion.

      As for 1984-ness of it all… well, yeah. You cede this power either to the government or to corporations – your choice. I choose government, because at least it’s implicitly possible to implement safeguards against bad behavior. You chose Trump (and those like him) and private enterprise, and here we are. Who stops an international corporation from behaving badly, especially when businesses are considered people and money is speech?

      “Socialist” things like unions are the only defense. Too bad those are being dismantled at every turn. In the meantime, enjoy your dystopia.

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      • I get this. But what does the employee wins by having a highly censored social media presence off the clock?

        Why would a dev talk to “rando asshats” who regularly call him “nigger faggot” and he can’t answer of fired?

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      • The employee gets a paycheck which, presumably, is worth the cost of their public profile.

        Incidentally, this is why anonymity is so important. Price was fired because she was Jessica Price, GW2 developer. Same exact twitter feed under @gamergirl67, and nobody cares. Of course, nobody caring is a problem when you have a job that you could leverage to give weight to your arguments, but there are clearly risks involved.

        As for engaging with trolls, I don’t see anywhere in which having to engage with them was the case. Price was not obligated to respond to Deroir, much less several times. I’m not going to be the person who says “if it offends you, stop looking at the screen,” because averting your gaze does not stop words from making you angry or hurt. But she did have a choice in how to respond, and there are literally dozens of ways she could have responded that got the same point across without putting her job in jeopardy.

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      • “Who stops an international corporation from behaving badly, especially when businesses are considered people and money is speech?”

        Competition does. To which you may object “but what about monopolies?” To which I would respond “What do you think government IS?” The Constitution of the United States was written to engender competition between the three branches of government, and it was only in working to eliminate this competition with the entrenchment of two not-actually-that-different political parties that we’ve gotten around that to the situation we’re in today, where idiotic congressional Republicans think President Dreamsicle is somehow their boss. From a purely philosophical point of view, it’s probably simpler and easier to get corporations to fix bad behavior than it is government.

        ““Socialist” things like unions are the only defense.”

        Unions aren’t socialist in any practical sense. They’re labor exchanges (and, oftentimes, monopolies). That’s not to say they haven’t done plenty of good, because they have, but they’re fundamentally a market response to a market problem, and citing them as a “defense” against bad business really only bolsters the notion that more government is rarely the best answer in fixing market problems, because it’s in exploiting government power that unethical businesses become truly dangerous.

        Like

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