An Open Letter to ArenaNet

To Whom It May Concern at ArenaNet,

I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment over ArenaNet’s behavior towards and firing of Jessica Price and Peter Fries.

For the record, my account name is Raellwyn.9416. As you can see, I’ve bought both expansions. Following the events of March 8th, I started occasionally buying Gems, the in-game currency, in order to support a company I believed actually stood up for diversity and representation in the gaming industry. I will no longer be able to do this.

As of this writing, there are only two possible explanations for your firing of both Jessica Price and Peter Fries. The first is that you consider the streamers who are associated with you to be nearly untouchable. You appear to believe any sort of mild refusal to suffer foolishness from them gladly is a fireable offense, as is any sort of mild defense of a colleague who does this. This is not how a reputable, professional company should treat its employees.

As a reminder, the in-game economist you used to have, John Smith, was occasionally condescending and rude on the official Guild Wars 2 forums to players. He was not fired instantly for it. Some examples:

“You’ve made two false assumptions, fix them both and you have your answer1.”

“I think you should stop and think about this a little bit, and then come back with another response2.”

“I think it’s hilarious when I’m looking at a million post patch salvage results and you tell me I’m wrong3.”

“Things YOU know as facts:

1. I can buy unlimited items off the Tp without any server limitations- FALSE

2. I can pick up unlimited items into my inventory from the TP without any server limitations – FALSE

3. I can set arbitrary buy order prices at unlimited speed without server limitations. – FALSE

4. Doing any of these things in reverse (selling) causes an error to pop up – what?

Things devs have stated as facts in the past:

-series of random ad hominems that clearly make your points more valid…right?

Just because you don’t see the technical implementation of some aspects of the systems doesn’t mean it’s magic4.”

He would also occasionally call people out when they weren’t helping the discussion:

“Prince, you’re not helping the discussion, if you continue to resort to ad hominem you won’t be welcome anymore5.”

At one point it seems he was allowed to both be caustic and then apologize for it:

“You’re adorable. Economists have ways to measure how much your parents love you and the scariest part of all… it works.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of mixed feedback about this comment and I wanted to agree that it’s unnecessary. It’s an overly caustic response to an accusation (which isn’t the worst thing in the world), but it’s been pointed out that this isn’t a two way street which changes the situation entirely (and makes it really bad). My community team are saints and allow me the time and medium to interact with the players, I’ll be focusing more on providing positive responses as much as I’m able.

Cheers all, questions welcome6.”

Beyond those few examples, I found his posts to be interesting and enlightening as a whole. I feel your obvious acceptance of him as a whole person with his own opinions and frustrations was the more appropriate way to treat an employee. I am disappointed you have diverged from that.

The second possibility is that, despite your recent denial, you were terrified enough of a Reddit mob to fire two employees in order to get on its good side. This possibility is far more concerning.

As I am sure you are aware, your actions do not exist in a vacuum. We live in a post-GamerGate world now. Every woman, LGBT person, and person of color who makes, writes about, or plays video games publicly runs the risk of stalking, threats, or worse. Your actions have made this environment materially worse, and are actively encouraging further bad behavior towards women and minorities in the video game industry. This is true regardless of your intentions.

Your actions are currently chilling attempts by game devs to talk about how everyday sexism and harassment affect their lives and their work. Your actions are chilling the ability of game devs with more privilege to stand up for and stand behind their colleagues who are being harassed. You have made it clear that your priority, as an employer, is not to stand against harassment of your employees. I can no longer recommend you as an employer to anyone I know.

Personally, I can no longer feel as safe playing Guild Wars 2, which is a game I have loved and enjoyed for years. I am a female player. Since you do not seem capable of standing up for your own employees, I cannot trust you to provide reasonable safety against in-game harassment. This is both frightening and disappointing. I also can no longer recommend your games to my friends.

I encourage you to take steps to make this right as quickly as possible, in a widespread and public way.


Ardith Betz