I wasn’t going to post about this, but between the lack of any posting here, and how this snowball down shit mountain continues to roll, here we go. Buckle up because a few snowflakes are going to melt in the below fire-hot take (that is a self-identifying sentence, did you get it?)
Catch up on what’s happening over at Az’s site, including some of my initial thoughts on the issue. Overall, anytime someone is fired, 99% of the time its justified. Companies don’t go through the pain and cost of firing someone just for kicks, and especially at larger companies (which Anet is), even someone with an ax to grind (which isn’t the case here) will have a very hard time and risk a lot to fire someone without proper justification. I state this because whenever one of these “I was falsely fired!” stories pops up, its smart to always go into them with heavy skepticism for what the ‘victim’ is claiming.
In this case the situation is all the easier to see because of Price’s actions after being fired, to say nothing about the fact that there is no gray area around what she did; all of her statements are online, and they clearly show what happened (the fired male dev has deleted tweets related to this, for what that’s worth). You can’t straight-up attack customers as a rep for a company, in any business, and ESPECIALLY not when the initial interaction was harmless and you massively escalated it.
Which gets me to the point of this post; the twisting of that interaction into something far more. I read Polygon, not because its awesome, but because most other gaming sites are pure garbage. But in this case, Polygon has gone far off the deep end, with this article perhaps being the worst yet.
It starts off with the far, far stretch that the initial suggestion by Deroir was in any way offensive, and piles on to that stretch by pushing the fact that since Price is a female, suggestions towards her need to be phrased differently than towards a male game dev. Think on that for one second while keeping the word ‘equality’ in your mind. Continue to keep that word in mind and read this quote from Polygon:
“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.”
Basically, what happened here is what has been happening in gaming since gaming started; someone played a game, and said “X would be better if it was Y”. Every single gaming blog, this one included, does this (and often times far, far more aggressively than what Deroir did), and not once have I scaled back, or ramped up, a criticism because of the gender of the game dev (or if its Friday, a fellow blogger, just to be fully inclusive of who and why we flame people online). Again, equality.
Which isn’t to suggest the world is all roses and inequality doesn’t exist, and most certainly does. But stories like this are classic ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenarios. This isn’t an example of sexism in the gaming world (hell, a male and female employee got fired here, equality!), and so it dilutes the real issue. Actual victims of sexism look at Price the same way abuse victims look at people who misuse the #metoo movement; you aren’t helping, you are actually causing harm.
Then Polygon doubles down on this by adding a quote from someone who, from a very brief review, appears to be a professional ‘boy cried wolf’ artist, Adrienne Massanari. Her profile picture is a female with short hair holding a cat. Stereotypes, why do they exist?
“Why would people want to talk to anyone at all? But on some level, they need to have these social media presences, and be contactable. But this proves that people can be punished if you’re a woman and speaking out about an area of your expertise. It’s so predictable in a way, and that’s what makes me so angry.”
Let’s break the above down. Why would people want to talk online? Because they want interaction. That’s it. That’s literally the only reason to post on Twitter. For others to see what you write/think and react.
Second line, this ‘need’ for being online in social media. Was that part of Price’s contract with Anet? She’s not a community rep, right? So no, Price wasn’t online because of Anet, she was/is online because that’s a choice she made. Choices have consequences. If I was too thin-skinned to deal with the (hilarious) hate of others online, you know what I’d do? I’d get the fuck off the internet. I wouldn’t stay online and cry wolf or play the victim.
Third line, which builds on the false assumption that Price is online because Anet put a gun to her head and told her “Tweet about work and respond to fans, or get fired!”, and makes the immediate jump that Price got the response she got not because she is a dev posting about a game online, but because she is a female. Keep in mind, even in this exact story, a male game dev also got fired.
The agenda being pushed here that this is an issue about gender, and not inappropriate employee conduct, isn’t coming from Reddit. It’s not coming from people who want to tear down females in gaming or elsewhere. Gender was introduced, and continues to be pushed, by Price, and now by people claiming to be feminists, people who claim they want equality.
Equality here is a game dev talking online, and a subsection of fans flaming them, at times hyper-aggressively. Welcome to game dev, and welcome to the internet. If you believe you can solve the issue of people being asshats online (or in real life for that matter), please hold your breath until that happens, thanks! Inequality, and treating people differently based on gender, is looking at something that has been happening since Pacman, and trying to segregate female game devs into this corner, and male devs into another, with special rules for the females. That, more than anything else in this entire situation, is highly offensive and sets back progress towards equality.
Finally, Polygon is empowering, or at least giving fuel, to those on Reddit and the Internet who actually believe a mob can get someone falsely fired, when they frame this story as an example of a female being fired for ‘speaking her mind’ and people online getting her fired. If someone doesn’t have the time to fully dig into the situation, perhaps they only scan the headline and make the assumption that something like that actually happened. That actually is dangerous, in the same vein that ‘fake news’ is dangerous. Spreading false information, even if its just a click-bait title and the context of the article states otherwise, is a real problem, and unlike “people being mean online”, is fixable. Price is a lost cause based on her actions, and people like Adrienne are always going to be around, but Polygon should be better here.