I know that getting up in arms about disrespect on the internet is like getting mad at the weather. However, I’ve been following the story about Jennifer Hepler, the Bioware writer who has endured some nasty abuse at the hands of “fans” for comments she allegedly made in an interview about the interplay between combat and story scenes. Something about it struck a chord.
If you’re new to this party, The Border House has a nice write-up of the events:
“How the whole thing appears to have started is someone posted a combination of quotes from an interview from 2006 that doesn’t exist any more, as well as quotes that were entirely made up, on the gaming sub-Reddit in order to have a rant about how Hepler is “a cancer that is poisoning BioWare.” The thread was eventually deleted because of the attacks and the false attributions. But that wasn’t enough: angry gamers took to Twitter instead, harassing both Hepler and the people who offered support, and apparently even going so far as to make harassing phone calls to her home.”
First, to the content of that interview (the actual, existing comments, not the made-up fantasy BS): apparently, Hepler admitted that “playing the games” was her least favorite part of working in the industry, and that adding a “fast-forward” option for combat portions of a game for gamers interested in story more than gameplay. She said that last comment in regards to a question about making the industry more inclusive and friendly to women.
First, I’d like to say that I respectfully disagree with her opinions, as I’m sure many gamers do. I don’t like that she basically correlates being female with not liking gameplay, and like to think that, here in 2012, men have familial responsibilities that pose a block to gaming time (as almost all of my NoHS colleagues here can tell you).
However, it takes something akin to a kindergarten education to understand that the proper course of action to reading comments you don’t agree with is to viciously attack the person who made them. I also can’t help but feel that misogyny and homophobia reared their ugly heads in this particular instance. You can read the Border House post for more on that, but it’s ugly all around.
Thankfully, Bioware has stepped up to support their employee, in a classy statement by Dr. Ray Muzyka, one of the founding Doctors of the company.
“Jennifer is a valued, talented employee who has been with BioWare for many years and we hope will be with us for many more. It is awful that a few people have decided to make her a target for hate and threats, going so far as fabricating forum posts and attributing them to her, and singling her out for projects to which she has not contributed (i.e., Jennifer is not even a part of the Mass Effect writing team). All of us at BioWare support and will continue to support Jennifer fully, and are happy to see so many people out there are also supporting her during this difficult time.”
The company is also donating to Bullying Canada in her name.
Say what you will about Bioware (and their “sex puppet buffet”). Say what you will about the direction of the company, or about how mass Effect 3 will be the best/worst game ever. At the very least, we know they will do the right thing when one of their own is under attack.
Best of luck to Hepler.