BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler, who worked on ‘Dragon Age,’ ‘Dragon Age II’ and ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’, and who was at work on ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ has quit the company to go freelance after repeated death threats on the internet, menacing phone calls and finally, a posting on a message board threatening to kill her children.
“I was shown a sample of the forum posts by EA security,’ says Hepler, “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.”
The games that Hepler worked on are all quite popular and clearly inspire… ahem, passion amongst their players. So why the violent threats? Some gamers feel that the quality of BioWare games has dipped in recent years, pointing to changes in game play mechanics and story lines, including allowing characters to have same sex attractions in ‘Dragon Age II’. Seven years ago, while promoting ‘Dragon Age: Origins’, Hepler admitted that the hardest part of her job was “Playing the games. It has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me.”
And with that, the torches were lit and gamers hoisted every perceived flaw they found with subsequent games on Hepler’s shoulders.
She isn’t the first creator to face the over-the-top ire of scorned fans. David Vonderhaar, design director for ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’, was recently the target of multiple death threats over making subtle changes to the way certain weapons functioned.
Hepler has gone freelance, which is an unfortunate turn of events, as I’m sure that doesn’t pay as well or as regularly. But in the face of such putrid cyberbullying, I’m not sure I can see any alternative.
One of the reason for these attacks was the same-sex option in ‘Dragon Age II’, but on a positive note, Hepler said ‘The outpouring of support I received — large amounts from female and gay fans — was incredibly heartening. 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.’
What do you think? Are you a fan of these games? Or do you indeed, feel the quality has declined in recent years? Is this type of bullying giving gamers a bad name? Sound off below in the comments section!