The controversial ArenaNet firings of Guild Wars 2 writers (READ OP)

Oct 25, 2017
12,455
Sweden
MOD EDIT:
With the approval of the OP we're adding articles and changing the title so that people will be able to catch up on and discuss the Guild Wars 2 firings and ArenaNet controversy. Previous threads on the subject have not gone well, so if this thread is going to last, it will need to be more tightly moderated. Please read and very carefully adhere to the following reminders and guidelines. Penalties in this thread may be tougher than usual for the sake of keeping the discussion civil.


1. Do not dismiss, downplay, or attempt to justify the ongoing harassment by hate movements or its role in the backlash.
2. Do not derail the thread with broad generalizations about journalism or specific media outlets.
3. Do not level inflammatory accusations, insults, or hostility at other users.

For more information on the controversy that spawned this article, check the links below:

Additional background information:
For the record Jessica Price has been a target of hate movements for at least a year before her recent comments and firing. Several sites and subreddits popular among hate movements like r/Kotakuinaction and Kiwifarms had threads or comments labeling her as a "notorious SJW" when she left the company she previously worked at before Arenanet. The thread on the GW2 subreddit about her joining ArenaNet was locked by moderators after it was derailed by negative comments about her and her "politics" – https://www.reddit.com/r/Guildwars2/comments/6oplet/jessica_price_joins_arenanet_narrative_team/

It's simply not accurate to suggest that Jessica only became a target of harassment after she was already fired.
Original OP:
i thought this piece was funny and biting satire:
As the President of a large company, I’m under a lot of pressure to do my part for women in the workplace.
Speaking as a forward-thinking, progressive member of the executive board, it’s not enough to simply say we want to close the gender gap – we have to take strong, positive steps that translate into real action.
Other companies simply pay lip service to equality, rather than genuinely delivering. But in the year 2018, isn’t it reasonable to say that our women employees deserve the same access to company policies and services that our male employees receive?
That’s why I’m so excited to announce that starting today, our policy of ‘instantly and brutally sacking our workers for no reason’ is now available to our women employees as well.
No longer will it be simply our men who are constantly looking over their shoulder, terrified that the slightest misstep – real or imagined! – could result in their summary termination and dismissal.
We are so proud to be able to finally say that our women employees now share in the same perpetual state of fear that our men do.
(more at the source)
http://www.pointandclickbait.com/2018/07/arenanet-mike-obrien-official-statement/

Edit by hydrophilic attack: Below is the statement released two days ago by game workers unite about this incident (bolded emphasis mine)
Last week, ArenaNet management fired two workers: one for responding defensively on Twitter to a non-industry community member who she perceived as explaining her job to her, and the other for defending her response.

It is important to understand the context in which women, people of color, and queer folks regularly exist while online, which is often a seemingly endless deluge of people commenting on, critiquing, and offering unsolicited advice on their craft. The game industry also has a well-documented history of predominantly women and marginalized workers being tormented into abandoning social media, driven out of their workplaces, and sometimes even forced to leave the industry altogether. Within this context it is grossly unfair to expect a veteran narrative designer like Jessica to be anything but defensive about these kinds of player and developer interactions.

Regardless of how one feels about Price's actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price's tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to. The company could have done anything from pulling their employee aside and discussing their behavior, to giving them an internal reprimand and offered them additional training. Instead, ArenaNet, under the clearly inadequate leadership of Mike O'Brien, made the knee-jerk reaction to fire a member of their team. No dialogue, no nuance, no empathy.

Even more startling was the firing of Peter Fries, who simply offered a polite, measured, and well-reasoned defense of his coworker. ArenaNet management's firing of Fries was not for the benefit of company culture or Guild Wars 2, their goal was to send a message to a vocal minority of players and to make a public example out of an employee.

ArenaNet’s actions contribute to normalizing a work environment in which employees’ personal social media accounts are monitored, where they are expected to perform PR for their company outside of working hours (with no compensation whatsoever, regardless of whether or not it is part of their job description) and where they can be arbitrarily fired with no warning.

Game Workers Unite stands with Jessica Price and Peter Fries, and emphatically denounces the actions of ArenaNet management.

The unethical firings of Price and Fries, together with the reactions of toxic individuals inside and outside of the Guild Wars player community, have had a chilling effect across the industry. Countless workers have been harassed over social media and many are concerned about the implications of this event, some going so far as to delete their personal social media accounts in fear of similar retaliation from hostile players and bosses. ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players. This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.

If you are considering your online security in the aftermath of these events, we recommend consulting Crash Override’s resource center for information on how to protect your social media activity.

We suggest everyone read this excellent Polygon interview with Jessica Price that goes into a great deal of depth on the situation from Jessica’s perspective.

Game Workers Unite was founded out of a need to address the widespread unethical and unlawful workplace conditions in our industry. We are dedicated to building a better, safer industry for all of us. If you share our vision as well, consider joining Game Workers Unite.

In solidarity,
Game Workers Unite International
there was also a statement by the international game developers association about what questions workers in the industry should ask their employers to make sure that expectations about employee social media use are clear, see the quote below
I would recommend also adding this statement from the International Game Developers Association which goes into more detail about the labor-related issues at play and questions employees need to ask about social media and protection from harassment.
 
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etrain911

Member
Oct 27, 2017
779
This seems like a disingenuous and unfair take on what happened. A developer responded to a polite post about Guild Wars 2 with outright hostility. Did she deserve to be sacked immediately? I would say that that was unfair of anet, but it is well within their right to fire an employee for representing the company in a way that makes the company unhappy.
 

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,997
Finland
This seems like a disingenuous and unfair take on what happened. A developer responded to a polite post about Guild Wars 2 with outright hostility. Did she deserve to be sacked immediately? I would say that that was unfair of anet, but it is well within their right to fire an employee for representing the company in a way that makes the company unhappy.
Yup, I can easily see this from two angles as well. Personally I wouldn't mind if I was in charge, atleast not so much that I would fire someone over this. Gamers tend to be fucking awful, so I'm quite fine with it they get lashed back a bit (though the guy in question wasn't exactly acting like an asshole). I wouldn't just brush it off either, but to my understanding the people who were fired were given an option to a formal apology which they denied (correct me if I'm wrong). So it's absolutely understandable and also reasonable to fire them. I assume that with an apology they would still have their jobs.

Edit: Apparently no option for an apology was given.
 
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Branduil

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
This seems like a disingenuous and unfair take on what happened. A developer responded to a polite post about Guild Wars 2 with outright hostility. Did she deserve to be sacked immediately? I would say that that was unfair of anet, but it is well within their right to fire an employee for representing the company in a way that makes the company unhappy.
Gamers have responded to the firing by sending requests to multiple companies asking them to fire female employees so it's pretty clear how it's being interpreted.

Game devs need a union.
 

Dekim

Member
Oct 28, 2017
905
If you are on social media commenting on your company's product on a public Twitter account with your face and your company's name on it, you are representing the company. Doesn't matter that you are "off the clock". Go off on a customer and bring the company bad press and expect to get sacked.

It is shocking and sad people in this day and age still don't get that what you say on social media matter both personally and professionally.
 

etrain911

Member
Oct 27, 2017
779
Gamers have responded to the firing by sending requests to multiple companies asking them to fire female employees so it's pretty clear how it's being interpreted.

Game devs need a union.
I am extremely pro-union and I agree with you that she shouldn't have been fired, however, I do believe anet's reason for doing so is not totally without merit unlike the harassment those other companies are receiving.


I really do feel for her because as a minority I often find myself questioning whether someone's intentions are genuine or steeped in homophobia or racism, etc. I definitely think having a conversation would've been better for all involved. However, she was posting about the game on a public twitter where she identifies herself as someone working on the game. So I can see anet's side on this.
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
Areanet probably are progressive. There's a lot of misogyny in gaming. Two separate things.

Just because someone:

a) was fired for being very unreasonable to a prominent community member (who was respectfully providing feedback) and putting her employees reputation at risk
b) had a track record of saying unsavoury, brand-damaging things (see total biscuit quotes)
c) on two occasions fallaciously tried to link her sex into it as a relevant factor (against the community member and her CEO)
d) dragged back the cause of true feminism due to fake claims muddying the waters against genuine grief..

.. means we should conflate the two. Dodgy reasoning. And more evidence of the harm that she's done.
 

Strings

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,144
Gamers have responded to the firing by sending requests to multiple companies asking them to fire female employees so it's pretty clear how it's being interpreted.

Game devs need a union.
Those are the fringe crazies for the most part though. Like, they're absolutely horrible, but I'm not sure what can really be done about them / if we can lump them in with the community at large.

For instance, the 'we can probably fire anyone' reddit comment that was quoted by a bunch of outlets was downvoted and then deleted.
 

Funyarinpa

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
7,887
Being (somewhat understandably) rude to one person isn't really worth getting fired, especially after all the controversy that caused.

I mean all the dude said to a professional writer was "But what about branching dialogue? :)" and while I disagree, I can understand getting annoyed at that.
 
OP
OP
hydrophilic attack
Oct 25, 2017
12,455
Sweden
This seems like a disingenuous and unfair take on what happened. A developer responded to a polite post about Guild Wars 2 with outright hostility. Did she deserve to be sacked immediately? I would say that that was unfair of anet, but it is well within their right to fire an employee for representing the company in a way that makes the company unhappy.
and this is the problem

as someone living in a scandinavian country i am baffled by the non-existent employee protection some us states have
 

Branduil

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
Areanet probably are progressive. There's a lot of misogyny in gaming. Two separate things.

Just because someone:

a) was fired for being very unreasonable to a prominent community member (who was respectfully providing feedback) and putting her employees reputation at risk
b) had a track record of saying unsavoury, brand-damaging things (see total biscuit quotes)
c) on two occasions fallaciously tried to link her sex into it as a relevant factor (against the community member and her CEO)
d) dragged back the cause of true feminism due to fake claims muddying the waters against genuine grief..

.. means we should conflate the two. Dodgy reasoning. And more evidence of the harm that she's done.
LMAO "true feminism." Yes a woman being fired for being slightly rude to a presumptuous man on the internet is such a goddamned victory for true feminism. That's why we're sending requests to every game dev asking them to fire female developers who have made us mad. For true feminism.
 

Lord Arcadio

Member
Oct 27, 2017
941
Those are the fringe crazies for the most part though. Like, they're absolutely horrible, but I'm not sure what can really be done about them / if we can lump them in with the community at large.

For instance, the 'we can probably fire anyone' reddit comment that was quoted by a bunch of outlets was downvoted and then deleted.
Not only that, the user who made that comment admitted he was trolling and he is personally against the firings.
 

Yuuber

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,191
There's a lot of misogyny in the world, that's a fact. Perhaps if it was a guy replying in the same tone, he wouldn't have been fired.

However, if she was my employee, I would have had a serious talk after seeing some of her history of replying and set things straight. That's no way to treat a customer/whatever.
 
OP
OP
hydrophilic attack
Oct 25, 2017
12,455
Sweden
Yup, I can easily see this from two angles as well. Personally I wouldn't mind if I was in charge, atleast not so much that I would fire someone over this. Gamers tend to be fucking awful, so I'm quite fine with it they get lashed back a bit (though the guy in question wasn't exactly acting like an asshole). I wouldn't just brush it off either, but to my understanding the people who were fired were given an option to a formal apology which they denied (correct me if I'm wrong). So it's absolutely understandable and also reasonable to fire them. I assume that with an apology they would still have their jobs.
i have seen no proof supporting this theory
 

Kinthey

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
5,785
I'm surprised people are suddenly so adamant about defending shitty behavior on Twitter. This is hardly the first time someone got sacked for it.
 

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,997
Finland
i have seen no proof supporting this theory
Ah thanks for correcting, I followed the already closed thread a bit and remember seeing it there. I just tried to fact check this myself, but haven't indeed seen it mentioned by Price or Fries. I'll edit my earlier comment.

Edit: I probably confused it with Polygon article which suggested that ArenaNet could have apologized on behalf of the company, not that she could have done it personally. That's what I would have suggested if I was in charge, apology from Price and she could have still brought up the issues she faces as a female developer (as do others) which made her react so harshly. No firing needed then, imo. That wouldn't have silenced the angry mob, but I think the person who was insulted over this would have understood and accepted the apology.
 
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Blade Wolf

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,401
Taiwan
This seems like a disingenuous and unfair take on what happened. A developer responded to a polite post about Guild Wars 2 with outright hostility. Did she deserve to be sacked immediately? I would say that that was unfair of anet, but it is well within their right to fire an employee for representing the company in a way that makes the company unhappy.
This.

She was being extremely rude and hostile towards someone who was genuine, polite and meant no harm .

Gender or social issue has nothing to do with her being fired, you can't just defend her action simply because she is a progressive feminist, I am a progressive feminist too, doesn't mean I can just yell at people and accuse them of mansplaining whenever I feel like it.

I respect all the hardworking female in this industry (seriously you are awesome!) but the fact is she was being extremely unreasonable and immature, that's the reason why she was fired.

Just because the company is supposed to be progressive doesn't mean they can't fire her. Progressive doesn't equal to prejudice, and it shouldn't be used as an exemption.
 

Vela

Alt Account
Banned
Apr 16, 2018
1,818
*cue the onslaught of posters who still doesn't see that Arena.Net has catered to a hate mob and the implications it has on all game developers*
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
LMAO "true feminism." Yes a woman being fired for being slightly rude to a presumptuous man on the internet is such a goddamned victory for true feminism. That's why we're sending requests to every game dev asking them to fire female developers who have made us mad. For true feminism.
We can argue the toss over whether she was slightly rude or unnecessarily aggressive given the context. Or whether he was presumptuous or respectful.

However there's no argument about prior behaviour and the latest incident and putting the brand at risk, which is reliant on it's community. It would have been very odd if the employer hadn't have done something.

There should also be no argument about it *not* being about the fact that she was a woman (a longer standing male employee was fired for lesser behaviour and she could offer no evidence of sexist behaviour) and she tried to play the sexism card.

Thus "crying wolf" and undermining legitimate complaints about actual sexism that occurs. And generating a climate of fear where any reasonable behaviour can have "sexist!" tags applied to it, making a shit situation even more polemic.

What's your point?
 

Paul

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,342
instantly and brutally sacking our workers for no reason’
Except there was a perfectly valid reason. Even if I do not personally agree with the firing; I would ask the employee to apologize, and if done, move on with no futher action.
 

Branduil

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
This.

She was being extremely rude and hostile towards someone who was genuine, polite and meant no harm .

Gender or social issue has nothing to do with her being fired, you can't just defend her action simply because she is a progressive feminist, I am a progressive feminist too, doesn't mean I can just yell at people and accuse them of mansplaining whenever I feel like it.

I respect all the hardworking female in this industry (seriously you are awesome!) but the fact is she was being extremely unreasonable and immature, that's the reason why she was fired. Just because the company is supposed to be progressive doesn't mean they can't fire her. Progressive doesn't equal to prejudice.
You can't just say the words "I am a progressive feminist" and automatically be one. It's determined by your actions, and in this case you're defending a company firing a woman because a crowd of rabid gamergaters got mad when she was slightly rude to a rando who thought no one had ever suggested "branching dialog" before.
 

Branduil

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
*cue the onslaught of posters who still doesn't see that Arena.Net has catered to a hate mob and the implications it has on all game developers*
Yes but you see she offended a man's honor and you know that is the worst possible thing a human being can do. Believe me, I'm a feminist. Also did you know she once expressed relief at the death of a man who called down hate mobs on females in gaming. Clearly she's a monster.
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
You can't just say the words "I am a progressive feminist" and automatically be one. It's determined by your actions, and in this case you're defending a company firing a woman because a crowd of rabid gamergaters got mad when she was slightly rude to a rando who thought no one had ever suggested "branching dialog" before.
There was prior form re: total biscuit quotes. The company is heavily dependent on goodwill from it's community. Any company expects someone who represent their brand by either wearing the uniform (in and out of work) or going online and having their name attached to your account to behave and not put the brand at risk.

Do you think that if someone (say) in a Walmart shirt was put on YouTube accosting someone at a bus stop, they'd not be fired by said company? Same thing.
 

Orayn

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,235
Thus "crying wolf" and undermining legitimate complaints about actual sexism that occurs. And generating a climate of fear where any reasonable behaviour can have "sexist!" tags applied to it, making a shit situation even more polemic.
Even if you don't think the initial spat had a gendered component to it, the hate mob that ANet immediately capitulated to sure did.
 

Dekim

Member
Oct 28, 2017
905
Being "progressive" isn't a get out of jail-free card for your behavior online. Make you company look bad while on social media an expect the possibly that you could get fired.
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
Even if you don't think the initial spat had a gendered component to it, the hate mob that ANet immediately capitulated to sure did.
Yeah. But again two totally separate points. That's the irony. Person who falsely claims sexism in a situation where there is none then receives a bucket load of it.

Some would even call it Karma, but I wouldn't wish that mob on anyone.
 

Branduil

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,705
Do you think that if someone (say) in a Walmart shirt was put on YouTube accosting someone at a bus stop, they'd not be fired by said company? Same thing.
This is the worst analogy for "Being slightly rude to someone offering unsolicited job advice" that I've ever heard. Also I hope a Walmart worker would not be fired if they responded rudely to a customer who kept walking up to them and telling them how they should do their job.
 

Blade Wolf

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,401
Taiwan
You can't just say the words "I am a progressive feminist" and automatically be one. It's determined by your actions, and in this case you're defending a company firing a woman because a crowd of rabid gamergaters got mad when she was slightly rude to a rando who thought no one had ever suggested "branching dialog" before.
She was fired for being hostile and unprofessional, it has nothing to do with the mobs or even the gamergaters, sure they want her fired, but that's not why she was fired and you know it.

Sure, firing her seems a bit extreme, but it's not entirely crazy. My father used to own a company before he retired and let me tell you there's no way he will tolerate any employee who yells at his customer for no good reason.

I am all for progressive and equality (don't believe me? just look at my posts regarding the whole BFV ''controversy'') but you have to understand that there's a real world out there, a world run by business and money, a world where being unprofessional and rude gets you fired.
 

Kinthey

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
5,785
Yes but you see she offended a man's honor and you know that is the worst possible thing a human being can do. Believe me, I'm a feminist. Also did you know she once expressed relief at the death of a man who called down hate mobs on females in gaming. Clearly she's a monster.
These strawmen really add a lot to the discussion
 

Lord Arcadio

Member
Oct 27, 2017
941
Anet put out a statement recently, but it hasn't been posted since all threads on the situation were locked. Might as well drop it here since it's relevant.

Jessica had identified herself as an ArenaNet employee on Reddit and Twitter, had been discussing Episode 3 storytelling with fans on Reddit, then had written a 25-part tweet about how we tell stories in MMOs, relating it back to Episode 3. She was representing the company. The expectation was to behave professionally and respectfully, or at least walk away. Instead, she attacked.

Concerns have been publicly raised that she was responding to harassment. It’s not my place to tell employees when they should or shouldn’t feel harassed. In this case, however, our employees could have chosen not to engage, and they could have brought the issue to the company, whereby we would have done everything we could to protect them.

We won’t tolerate harassment. When an employee feels harassed, we want them to bring the issue to us, so that we can protect the employee, deal with the issue, and use it to speak to the larger issue of harassment.

Whatever Jessica and Peter felt internally about the situation, this was objectively a customer engaging us respectfully and professionally, presenting a suggestion for our game. Any response from our company needed to be respectful and professional. A perceived slight doesn’t give us license to attack.

We’ve all dedicated our careers to entertaining people, to making games for the purpose of delighting those who play them. We generally have a wonderful relationship with our community, and that’s a point of pride for us. We want to hear from our players. It’s not acceptable that an attempted interaction with our company — in this case a polite game suggestion — would be met with open hostility and derision from us. That sets a chilling precedent.

The tweets were made on July 4, when the studio was closed for the holiday. We were aware of them that day, and decided we’d need to take action in the morning. The fact that the community’s anger was escalating on July 5 could make it look like our action was a response to the community’s anger. But that wasn’t the case. We took action as soon as we practicably could.

I hate to let an employee go, and I wish the best for Jessica and Peter, as for any former employee, in whatever they choose to do next.

Whatever you thought of the tweets, Jessica and Peter were also part of the team that brought you the kidnapping scene in Episode 1, which was a wonderfully well-executed scene. That’s how I want to remember their time at ArenaNet.
 

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,997
Finland
Yes but you see she offended a man's honor and you know that is the worst possible thing a human being can do. Believe me, I'm a feminist. Also did you know she once expressed relief at the death of a man who called down hate mobs on females in gaming. Clearly she's a monster.
I highly doubt that's how it went. You are talking about a person who had told transphobes and other bigots in his fan base to fuck off (not just once), as they weren't welcomed as an audience.
 
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shan780

The Fallen
Nov 2, 2017
1,298
UK
This is the worst analogy for "Being slightly rude to someone offering unsolicited job advice" that I've ever heard. Also I hope a Walmart worker would not be fired if they responded rudely to a customer who kept walking up to them and telling them how they should do their job.
if she didn't want any discussion, maybe she shouldn't have posted on a public forum like twitter
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
This is the worst analogy for "Being slightly rude to someone offering unsolicited job advice" that I've ever heard. Also I hope a Walmart worker would not be fired if they responded rudely to a customer who kept walking up to them and telling them how they should do their job.
An analogy is only meant to be representative, not literal. The point is any company expects standards of behaviour whilst you represent the brand.

Two things:

- it's a forum. Feedback is to be expected. And it was respectfully done feedback. In my (and the employers), the response wasn't respectful and disproportionate. You clearly don't agree with that, but the point is they do, they have a right to fire someone for that and there's no evidence it was because she was female. Remember that they also fired a longer-term male who was less involved.

- There was prior behaviour (see Total Biscuit quotes). Not sure why you're ignoring that.
 

Smash Kirby

Member
Nov 7, 2017
2,048
Yeah but judging by how a ton of devs shat on the VA strike for better conditions I don't think they'd welcome a union with open arms.
Because the VA strike was just a shell game. The game industry offered the three main things that the Actors union wanted, the union still was striking. The actors union were only really doing it to throw their weight around, they were about to enter negations for film and TV so they wanted to look strong going into it.
 

Aaronrules380

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
8,522
I mean they add as much as people pretending to be progressive while supporting the removal of livelihood for women who offend an insane misogynist hate mob.

That's kind of the whole point of the satire in the OP.
Except that literally nobody is defending the hate mob here or suggesting she should get fired because of that. People, both men and women, get fired because of unprofessional and rude social media behavior all the goddamn time. There’s literally no evidence to suggest that she was fired due to the mob and not just being unprofessional
 

SimonChris

Member
Oct 27, 2017
85
If it was about her past behavior, why did they also fire the dude who defended her? He wasn't even being particularly rude.
 

Oldhand

Member
Oct 28, 2017
94
I mean they add as much as people pretending to be progressive while supporting the removal of livelihood for women who offend an insane misogynist hate mob.

That's kind of the whole point of the satire in the OP.
Are you being intentionally disingenuous?

She offended a respectful significant community member and accused him of mansplaining whilst he was being nothing but respectful. The hate mob kicked in *after* that. She previously said amazingly disrepectful things about a man dying of cancer. Both of these online, with her employers name dragged into the dirt.

She and a male colleague then got fired for their actions - no evidence that the firing was related to the reaction of the rampant sexist mob. Not sure why you try to conflate the two to excuse her actions.

She then said that her CEO was sexist even though there was no evidence of that.

It's bad that the hate mob came out, and once again the idiot, dark side of the web comes to the fore, but that should not be used to excuse her actions or condemn ANet.