BioWare writer gets family death threats, leaves company after

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Jennifer Hepler was the senior writer for the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition. Before that, she worked on its predecessor, Dragon Age 2. If you’ve been following Dragon Age 2, you should know that it has received a lot of flak, mostly for drastic changes in gameplay compared to the first game.

A lot of hardcore fans also had a problem with the story to the point that they were harassing the writers. These include angry emails, abusive forum posts, and even a petition for them to be fired. These hardcore fans will try to find a reason why their beloved franchise has veered off track. One dug up an interview 6 years ago where Hepler said that her least favorite part about working in the video game industry was actually playing video games and fighting. This was posted up in forums, and let’s just say that fans weren’t too happy. One person even said she was the “cancer” to ruin BioWare.

“I had opened a Twitter account a few weeks before that, and this poster or others quickly found me there and began sending threatening messages,” she said. “I shut my account down without reading them, so I’m not certain what they said, but other people have told me they were quite vile.”

The interview and her Twitter post led to harassment including death threats to her and her family.

“I did my best to avoid actually reading any of it, so I’m not quite certain how bad it got,” Hepler said. “I was shown a sample of the forum posts by EA security and it included graphic threats to kill my children on their way out of school to show them that they should have been aborted at birth rather than have to have me as a mother.”

Whoa, calm down, guys! This is why I’m ashamed to be a hardcore gamer. We’re too passionate that we can get butthurt if a franchise we love doesn’t cater to our wants. Just look at the hate for the Mass Effect 3 ending for another example of how bad gamers can react. Even though gamers may be upset, this is no excuse to harass, especially threatening to kill a person’s children after school. If you want the video game industry to be taken seriously, how about we lay off on the threats, yes?

Even with all this negativity, Helper has also received words of encouragement, especially from the female and gay fans.

“The outpouring of support I received — large amounts from female and gay fans — was incredibly heartening,” she said. “I got hundreds of messages from people who had been deeply moved by characters and scenes that I wrote and who had made positive changes in their real lives because of it. Without the negativity, I’m not sure that I would ever have heard from all of these people confirming that there is a need for characters that tackle touchy social issues, for characters who are untraditional or even unlikeable. It has definitely strengthened my desire to continue to make games that strive for inclusivity and that use fiction and fantasy to explore difficult, uncomfortable real-world issues.”

It’s a tough live for a video game developer. On the one hand, you can create something that will enlighten and entertain people, and on the other hand, people can easily switch into douche mode.

Hepler has left BioWare this week to work on a narrative design book and freelancing. She was asked if the death threats were the reason she left the company.

“No, leaving Bioware was for family reasons. I am going to be working on a text book on narrative design among other game-related freelance projects,” she said.

That’s encouraging to hear that she can still work in the industry even with all the threats. It’s sad to see this happen, but I guess it’ll be hard to change people…since violence has been a part of history since humanity can remember.

I wonder if bookworms and movie buffs also send death threats to authors and directors? Okay, so Michael Bay is one example.

Source: Polygon

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10488 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.