Given recent unexpected events at ArenaNet, I feel pretty awful about my last post on GW2. I’ve expressed displeasure over ArenaNet’s handling of story and gameplay plenty of times here which is exactly the kind of thing that led to the firing of two ArenaNet writers. So I wanted to say a couple of things.
First of all, I absolutely respect any game writer or developer’s right to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I don’t understand the challenges associated with writing for a game, etc., etc. I don’t know what it’s like to write for a game, and I’m quite sure it’s entirely different from writing a book or writing a blog. I try to keep that kind of thing in mind when I’m commenting on games but sometimes I forget.
So if any ArenaNet writer had seen my post and left a comment saying, “You’re a moron,” I would have a) been flattered they even knew about my blog, and b) probably apologized, because I probably was being a moron. If the situation were reversed I sure wouldn’t want anyone trying to tell me how to write for my game, and most likely I wouldn’t even be on social media to read anyone’s opinion about my writing in the first place.
I typically side with developers on most issues. I’m a developer myself so I’m well aware that when you’re developing a product, it’s pretty easy and often impossible not to fall into a defensive mindset. But there’s a reason for it. Software users (and managers) demonstrate repeatedly, over and over, every day, that they don’t understand the software development process. There might be users out there who can speak intelligently to a developer about the process, but it’s maybe 1 in a 1000 people who truly “gets it.” If that. So the odds that you are that one person who really knows what they’re talking about (even if you’re also a developer) are pretty slim.
I guess what I’m saying is that it should be expected that developers aren’t going to respond positively to your comments on their work, regardless of how well you’ve thought them through or how politely you say them. Especially if you do the online equivalent of knocking on their front door to deliver your comments. Even if the developer responds, “Hey that’s a great idea, I’m going to look into that right away, thanks for the feedback!” you should know they are lying right to your face to get rid of you. That influencer should not have expected to have an ongoing, constructive dialog with any game’s writer, and they absolutely abused their position of influence to try to do so. I don’t know who he was, had never heard of him, and I have no interest in looking up his name now or ever. (I know, it’s not fair, but welcome to life. First impressions matter.)
On the flip side, developers have to deal with (usually) well-meaning users trying to explain to them how to do their job every single day. Every. Single. Day. It’s a part of the job that nobody tells you about. Sometimes you can insulate developers from the users, sometimes you can’t. Some days you can handle it fine, some days you can’t. It’s a constant struggle. But I would generally advise against going off on users for any reason, regardless of how much they deserve it. It’s an implicit part of being a successful developer. I’ve had to stop myself from doing it many times, and I’ve had to talk with others to keep them from doing it more than once. I do not envy game developers in 2018 having to deal with “the community.” (Quotes used to emphasize how dysfunctional most game communities are.)
So in a nutshell, mistakes were made on all sides. Nobody won here. I hope those two writers get new jobs quickly, and I kind of hope that influencer goes on the blacklist of every game developer in the industry.
UPDATE 7/8: By the way I closed comments on this post mainly because I don’t particularly want to discuss who was right or who was wrong here. The point of this post was mainly just to say I felt bad about complaining about GW2 right before it all happened (I think I have some legitimate complaints, but I still felt bad about it hehe). Eventually I’ll write more about this, although I do have a bad habit lately of writing a lot of posts that I never get around to publishing.
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