We reported on the intense round of harassment leveled at BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler recently, due to a number of quotes that were mostly fake, but, when true (and still half a decade old), were made regarding her opinions on how to improve the inclusivity of games to people outside the demographic of “hardcore gamers.” The fact that Hepler herself has a voice in the games industry but neither identifies as hardcore nor fits the narrow, stereotypical but prevalent stereotype of the hardcore gamer (a relatively young, usually single, usually white, straight male), undoubtedly increased her perceived threat to the strangers who called her home phone and called for her to commit suicide on Twitter. In the wake of it, many called upon BioWare itself to make an official statement denouncing the treatment she’d received from a segment people who claimed to speak for “real gamers.”
Well, BioWare has, with words and money.
Community Coordinator Chris Priestly posted this statement from BioWare’s cofounder, Ray Muzyka, on BioWare’s official forums yesterday afternoon:
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.
Many of the people who made comments against Hepler cited the inclusion of gay romance options for players who choose to play the male version of Commander Shepard, main character of the Mass Effect series, as a reason why she should be fired, or worse. As Muzyka points out, Hepler has never worked on the Mass Effect series (only on Dragon Age and Star Wars: The Old Republic), as anyone who attempted to investigate whether Hepler had actually said some of the things attributed to her by recent blog posts would have found. I also feel compelled to point out a double standard at play in this already faulty criticism: players who choose a female Shepard have been able to choose to romance another female-presenting (because the Asari aren’t female they are unisex /MassEffectnerdmoment) character from the first Mass Effect game, and have multiple options romantically pursue female characters in the second.
But beyond simply voicing their support for Hepler, Priestly also announced that the Canadian based games studio would be donating one thousand dollars to the anti-harassment volunteer organization Bullying Canada, and encouraged their community to contribute as they could.
(via No High Scores.)