Yesterday we reported that a senior writer for BioWare’s ‘Dragon Age’ franchise, Jennifer Hepler, quit her job to go freelance after receiving horrible threats to her family. The story came out of an article published by Metro, which does bring to light the very real and scary underbelly of Gamer Culture — the same one that leaves anyone with an Xbox Live account full of colorful messages about what some 13-year-old in Nebraska would like to do to one’s mother as a result of her online multiplayer prowess.

The sad fact of the matter is she did receive these death threats with some called into the company and some left across message boards. Most were thankfully hidden from her except for a select few the EA security team wanted to bring to her attention.

The comments were made after an article was published about ‘Dragon Age II,’ released in 2011, where she mentioned that combat systems were her least favorite part of games. The ‘Dragon Age’ Franchise and actually BioWare as a whole have been lauded by many as being one of the first to allow same-sex couplings within the role-playing aspect of their games. The change in the combat system and being on the right side of history didn’t seem to sit well with some gamers. These lovely individuals commented publicly, though of course anonymously, on this change, citing the full names of the people behind it, and included some serious threats that they’d like to carry out on the families responsible.

But why quit now? When I read the Metro article, I was just as enraged as anyone, but I wanted to see what some of her co-workers thought of it. I checked out a few tweets from Lead Writer David Gaider and heard a little more of the story.

It seems the Metro article cribbed some of the facts reported in this Polygon article about the larger problem of game developer harrassment, and the reporter assumed causality between Hepler’s departure this week and threats received over two years ago.

There are two very important stories here. One is the fact that the violent harassment of game developers is making the game industry worse. There is simply no “thin skin” that developers have who “can’t handle” the criticism, as some commenters might crudely point out. It’s a tragedy, and it affects men, women, thin-skinned, and thick-skinned alike. And it has the potential to make truly ground-breaking games never see the light of day.

If you read the article, you’ll see that Stephen Toulouse worked for Xbox Live’s policy and enforcement for six years, and when he had to field angry questions about the new and unpopular changes to the upcoming Xbox One, he was bombarded with very specific threats about what would happen to him at future events he was slated to attend. According to the article, “since Toulouse’s departure, no one has stepped into those very public shoes.” Xbox probably pays pretty well, and yet no one wants to be on the receiving end of the juvenile but possibly very real death threats to person and family. Who deserves that?

The second important story, however, is that Jennifer Hepler stood up to the horrific harassment and continued on to be a senior writer for next year’s ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition,’ the game’s third installment. She’s leaving to spend more time with her family, freelance, and work on a book. The intimidators did not win. She made a life choice and contributed to an entirely different game that, in my professional editorial opinion, is going to be totally wicked radical.

This entire situation leaves me with many questions. How much feedback is too much? The obvious human line should be drawn at physical threats, but other articles about ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ reported the franchise’s developers re-added multiple playable races after having listened to fan woes that you could only play as a human in ‘Dragon Age II.’ Developers are listening! Fans are helping to shape stories! Just…maybe don’t offer to kill someone’s children on the way home from school to show how much you care about playing as an elf. I’m serious.

Then, because I’m self-centered, a part of me wonders: will I get flak for posting this? Or something else someday? If someone threatened me online, would I back down? I’m a woman, and I also prefer story over combat. But I’m probably better than you at ‘GoldenEye.’ In ‘Mass Effect 1,’ my female Commander Shepard romanced Liara (although I maintain I was on my way to see Kaidan but took a quick detour, not knowing the mechanics of “monogamy” were fully in play).

All I can say is, I hope to be as strong as Jennifer Hepler if that day ever happens.