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BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her a "Cancer"

Illustration for article titled BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her a Cancer

BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler is trying to delete her Twitter account as of yesterday after feeling the hate of gamers who are angry about what she apparently said in a 2006 interview.

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She's been called terrible things on the Internet, after a flame that was lit by a post on Reddit calling Hepler, as the "cancer that is killing Bioware." She's worked on Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The original Reddit post that surfaced earlier this month (shown above) was a screenshot of the BioWare forums with alleged comments from Hepler's interview with website Killer Betties.

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Reddit /r/gaming moderator ohemeffgee removed the post for violating Reddiquette. He cited some of the problems:

1. It directly targets an individual. Keep in mind when you sharpen those pitchforks of yours that you're attacking actual human beings with feelings and basic rights. Follow the Golden Rule, please.
2. On top of that it cites quotes that the person in question never made. This person was getting harassing phone calls and emails based on something that they never did.

The link where the original interview from October 2006 was supposedly posted is now faulty, and in fact the entire site seems to be empty. But you can find the archived version here.

The cause of this uproar appears to have been her response to a question about what her least favorite thing about working in the gaming industry was. Her answer: "Playing the games." The original Reddit post featured a heavily edited version of the interview, which subtracted the fact that Hepler is expecting a child in the coming months, and therefore has a minimal amount of time to dedicate to gaming. She also mentioned that she finds it difficult to get immersed in a game that is not complemented by a good story: "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."

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Hepler also seemed to anger some gamers with her suggestion to add a fast-forward button to skip combat in games, similar to the skip button for dialogue and in-game cinematics.

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.

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The original screencap posted on Reddit included the words: Cancer, Infection, Sewage, Plague. These are not light comments. Reddit's ohemeffgee also said that Hepler has been harassed with phone calls and emails from people echoing the statements made by Reddit user corporateswine, who uploaded the first Reddit post that spurred the witchhunt.

Illustration for article titled BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her a Cancer
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Hepler has also been receiving nasty Twitter replies. BioWare's Studio GM, Aaryn Flynn, rose to her defense against the attackers on Twitter, albeit perhaps not in the most PR-friendly manner possible.

Update: For the sake of balance, we should note that Hepler herself has responded with some fire of her own, Tweeting on Saturday, "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."

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A YouTube video was created with instructions in the description to send "hate mail" to David Gaider, one of BioWare's other writers. The harassment has gone so far as to prompt the BioWare writer to try to delete her Twitter account.
Update: It's been brought to our attention that the YouTube link was not associated with this particular sequence of events against Hepler.

Whether you agree with Hepler's comments on video games and her suggestions for making a better experience still does not excuse the treatment she's been receiving today.

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We've reached out to EA PR for comment from Jennifer Hepler, and we'll post an update as soon as one is available.

(Top photo is a capture from the original offending Reddit post | Reddit)

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DISCUSSION

"Hepler also seemed to anger some gamers with her suggestion to add a fast-forward button to skip combat in games, similar to the skip button for dialogue and in-game cinematics."

Yes, and this is why people call her a cancer.

You have to understand: games are about gameplay. Games with stories should be games that tell these stories through, among other things, gameplay. Someone who works in the industry and DOESN'T care about gameplay, and would rather have you skip it, is objectively harmful to the industry, much the same way cancer is objectively harmful to the human body.

That she was the lead writer of the worst part of Dragon Age Origins (the roads), and the chief story editor of the much-maligned (and deservedly so) Dragon Age 2, is further evidence that she has contributed greatly to Bioware's fall from grace.

So, um, yeah. She's one of the cancers that is killing Bioware. So are the doctors and their greed, which enabled people who don't care about the games they play (according to Brent Knowles, who posted a fascinating retrospective on Bioware's decline after he left Bioware) or make to be hired.

Bioware's increasingly turning into a company that thinks its stories are the bees knees and doesn't care about gameplay. Instead, they force you to experience their substandard stories and remove all the cool things about their games—like choices that really mattered—so that you'll have to ride their ride the way they want you to.

She may be a writer, but she's definitely a bad games writer, and her presence at Bioware has brought about more bad than good.