Today, Game Workers Unite – a grassroots organization working to unionize the game industry – released a press release denouncing recent actions taken by ArenaNet. Due to the importance of issue, we’ve opted to reprint the press release in its entirety.
Seattle, WA, USA – Until now, the discussion surrounding the ArenaNet firings of Jessica Price and Peter Fries has almost exclusively centered around why, how, and whether or not it was justified for ArenaNet to fire Jessica Price. Meanwhile, one of the most important questions has still not been asked or answered: why have ArenaNet and Mike O’Brien not condemned the ensuing harassment of Price, Fries, and countless other developers, journalists, streamers, and members of the games community?
The facts are clear: when ArenaNet fired two of its employees, a new wave of harassment was unleashed. All the while, ArenaNet has remained silent about this, seemingly content to watch their former employees and industry peers suffer.
To make things worse, not only has no attempt been made to address the harassment, ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien escalated it by characterizing Price’s interactions as an “attack on the community,” thereby painting a target on Price’s back. Not content to merely fire Price and Fries and cut them off from the support system of the company, O’Brien’s comment has encouraged further harassment of the pair by framing them as enemies of the community, implicitly validating the attacks that were already ongoing. As Price herself said on Twitter today, “the firing wasn’t the punishment–the use of the mob was.”
It is sobering to consider that if ArenaNet had chosen to say nothing, Price and Fries would have been better off than they are presently. This is not merely a case of workers losing their jobs and being abandoned by their studio. It is a case in which an employer has escalated and effectively encouraged further harassment of their former employees, through deliberate silence about the attacks suffered by their workers combined with an extraordinary choice of words in a public statement.
In 2018, only four years after Gamergate brought to light the severe harassment issues that our industry faces, there is no excuse for ArenaNet or O’Brien not to recognize the threats and challenges faced by game workers, nor for them to be unaware of the implications and consequences of their actions and statements. Already the mob is attempting to build on the momentum granted by O’Brien and have others in the industry fired for expressing their political and personal grievances on Twitter by masquerading as concerned consumers.
In an industry like ours, in which workers are forced to be constantly on guard about their personal security both on and offline, to release an incendiary statement like O’Brien’s is to knowingly fan the flames of harassment, abuse, and violence, against not just one’s own employees, but the rest of us as well.
We strongly denounce Mike O’Brien for his poorly conceived statement, as well as ArenaNet for their continued failure to condemn the hostile actions and behaviors of the worst parts of their community and the gaming community at large. We stand with Jessica Price, Peter Fries, and all of the other developers, journalists, streamers, and members of the community who have been harassed as a result of this event.
Game Workers Unite International
Game Workers Unite is an international grassroots organization connecting workers, organizers and allies in building a unionized game industry. For more information, please contact Game Workers Unite at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter via @GameWorkers, or by visiting our website at www.gameworkersunite.org.
This press release is also available on the Game Workers Unite website.