Mario mavens, Samus scholars, Crash Bandicoot critics, gather ’round, it’s time for another news roundup from me, your humble editor.

Truth be told, I haven’t been playing many games lately. A disastrous slip of the mouse erased several hours of Sims 4 progress, embittering me toward the whole endeavor. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit left me crying and contemplative, but not particularly enthused about sitting down to try for all those costume pieces and assorted quests. There’s still plenty of games in my catalog, but taking a little break means I have even more time to spend on the news!

ArenaNet Fires Two After Social Media Posts

It’s not a secret that female game developers face the brunt of backlash for unpopular choices, whether or not they actually had a hand in them. Women often end up taking on secondary roles as community managers, even if those skill have nothing to do with their position on a development team.

Jessica Price, a narrative designer for Guild Wars 2 at ArenaNet, tweeted a thread about writing characters for MMORPGs, where players may have certain expectations that don’t apply in other game genres. Many people responded, but one, a Guild Wars 2 Twitch affiliate named Deroir, struck a nerve. He disagreed with some of Price’s statements, and, though he wasn’t exceptionally rude or condescending, his attempt to effectively explain Price’s job back to her resulted in Price replying:

Today in being a female game dev:

“Allow me–a person who does not work with you–[to] explain to you how to do your job.”

Price went on to discuss the annoyance she felt with having dialog trees, a concept that a narrative designer is no doubt familiar with, explained to her. many people criticized her for it, saying that she was being excessively rude in response to Deroir. But, as Price pointed out:

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.

ArenaNet fired Price and another writer, Peter Fries, who came to her defense, shortly after. In an interview with The Verge, Price said she had never been talked to about her social media presence before, and had in fact made it clear to ArenaNet during her initial job interview that she would not be curbing her social media speech on issues that were important to her, which she said the company indicated they admired. Price also added that she thought pressure from Reddit drove ArenaNet co-founder Mike O’Brien, who fired her personally, to his decision.

Whether you believe that Price’s ire about Deroir’s comment was misplaced or not, ArenaNet’s response sets a dangerous precedent. Price wasn’t on the clock at the time of her statement, nor was she speaking on behalf of Guild Wars or ArenaNet—only on her experience as a female game developer. And many are celebrating her and Fries’ termination, with one Reddit user writing:

We can probably fire anyone on the GW2 dev team as long we make a big enough stink. Nobody at Arenanet is safe from the hand of reddit. We’re literally running the company now, they’re in fear of the very users they seek to consort with… The moment a dev steps out of line or try to talk back to a player, guess what, they’ll know we got their hands on their throat and we can squeeze any time we like.

Now that ArenaNet has caved to those demands rather than standing up for their employees, they’ve emboldened harassers to continue putting the pressure on companies to fire anybody, for any reason. Price was provoked, tone-policed, and then fired, suggesting that any person (but let’s be real—men get away with this shit all the time) who speaks in a tone that fans don’t like deserves to be fired.

And ArenaNet’s firing of Price is already being used as ammunition to call for other industry women to be fired.

Price and Fries’ termination have led to even more calls for unionization and solidarity in the industry, which would hopefully protect employees from backlash of this kind in the future.

Gaming News Tidbits

After Valve shut down SteamSpy earlier this year, there was no way to determine digital sales of games through the platform. Programmer and game designer Tyler Glaiel devised a new method of determining sales from achievements, which was actually more accurate than SteamSpy’s method, but Steam has since sealed off the data needed to make it work.

Failbetter Games is leading Love Indies Week 2018, a movement encouraging fans and creators of indie games to work together to improve visibility for independent work. In a Google Document, Failbetter suggests that developers run contests, promotions, and other activities to encourage fans to review the games they love, hopefully boosting visibility. Love Indies Week begins July 16 and run until July 20.

Summer Games Done Quick, the annual speedrunning event for charity, raised a record-breaking $2.1 million for Doctors Without Borders.

GamesIndustry.biz has an excellent look at what it’s like to be a voice actor, including a couple of recent games that have done right by their voice talent and how that’s impact the game’s success.

The Wind’s Nocture has launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for enamel pins based on Dragon Age romance arcs. I feel personally attacked by the Alistair pin being rose gold.

A The Witcher tabletop RPG is on the way! First announced three years ago, the tabletop game will first be available at GenCon through R. Talsorian games, with digital and widely available print versions to follow.

An Ingress animated series is in development at Netflix. Maybe more people will actually play Ingress?

Qimsar has released the alpha version of a P.T. remake for PC. Qimsar is only 17, and, prior to starting this remake, only had some six hours of experience with the Unreal Engine, making the remake’s fidelity to the original all the more impressive.

And now, onto the deals!

Games Bleat

Hey, I’m the deals! Welcome to Games Bleat—I’m Joesph, your local knitting gamer, and I no joke just spent two hours playing Oxygen Not Included and making a large wrap. You can laugh, but I’m gonna be the one with a warm back and oxygenated duplicants come winter.

As is the current custom I’m going to start with some new games released this week. First is DERE EVIL.EXE, a retro inspired 2D platformer with a horrifying twist. If I’m being honest, I just got drawn in by the pretty pixel art (as I so often do), and I’m hoping the sinister twinge beneath the surface is just as fun to look at.

Next is Seek Etyliv, a minimalist dungeon crawler and poetic experiment. The whole game takes place on a 3×3 grid where the player has to struggle to learn the mechanics, but the part that really gets me is the gauzy poetry that punctuates the game’s atmosphere.

As far as games you won’t find on itch.io go, Octopath Traveler is out this week! I’m really excited to delve into its bizarre art style and multiple narratives—especially as someone who’s hit and miss on variations on the Final Fantasy formula. Hopefully it will carry over everything I’ve always loved about JRPGs, while also cutting through the fat and gristle.

PC

Xbox

Special Mention

Humble has put together a Chuck Tingle bundle, which is really great if you want to catch up on his incredibly thought-provoking body of work ahead of Project Tingler, the unnamed game he’s working on with Zoë Quin.

And that’s it for this weeks bleat! Catch me next time where I’ll certainly have finished neither my wrap nor my Oxygen Not Included playthrough.

 

Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.