A big chunk of drama hit the internet recently when BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler was harassed by several angry BioWare fans shortly after signing up for a Twitter account.
Hepler has worked as a writer for Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Trouble arose a week ago when a scathing Reddit post was made in which Hepler was criticized. The post read “This women is the cancer that is killing Bioware (sic).”
Her critics were mostly upset by some of the responses she made in a 2006 interview with a website called Killer Betties. In this interview, Hepler mentioned her least favorite thing about working in the gaming industry was “Playing the games.” She explained her reasoning by stating that she had been expecting a child and so had very little time to game. She also said that she had difficulty in immersing herself in games that didn’t have a good story, saying “While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s very hard for me to get interested in playing it.”
Hepler also stated that:
The biggest objection is usually that skipping the fight scenes would make the game so much shorter, but to me, that’s the biggest perk. If you’re a woman, especially a mother, with dinner to prepare, kids’ homework to help with, and a lot of other demands on your time, you don’t need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest — especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you don’t enjoy. A fast forward button would give all players — not just women — the same options that we have with books or DVDs — to skim past the parts we don’t like and savor the ones we do.
These statements seemed to draw the ire of some gamers, who would actually harass Hepler via phone calls, emails and even tweets, using insults found in the original Reddit post such as “Cancer,” “Infection,” “Sewage,” and “Plague.”
Hepler, along with BioWare’s Studio GM Aaryn Flynn, would reply to some of these demeaning tweets with their own unfriendly retorts. One comment from Hepler read ”I just figure they’re jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can’t get either.”
The flame war turned so ugly that Hepler has attempted to delete her Twitter account.
Following the debacle, BioWare’s co-founder, Dr. Ray Muzyka has released a statement defending her. His statement reads:
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.
Additionally we will be making a donation of $1000 in Jennifer’s name to Bullying Canada. Please feel free to also donate to this worthy cause in support.
Whether or not you agree with Hepler’s 6-year old comments, it doesn’t make it right to resort to petty insults and flame wars in order to demean her. Note to everyone: if you’re going to criticize someone for comments like these, do it constructively, not destructively.