Haven't posted on here in years... mostly because I couldn't be bothered, and also because sometimes forums and extreme reactions to things just stress me out. But recently, with a lot of drama cropping up surrounding Bioware - a studio I am still a fan of - So I felt like having a say.
I am neither a fan nor hater of Jennifer Helper. Her contribution to the stories of DAO and DA2 have that hint of Twilight-esque girlishness that I'm not super into, but she by no means ruined the series for me. I still enjoyed DA2 and still enjoy Bioware games in general. That's just my opinion of her, Bioware and the general quality of their games.
The notion that Jennifer doesn't belong in the industry because she is not a "conventional" gamer or gaming fan just blows my mind. I've worked in the video game inudstry for around five years. I've interacted with people from almost every possible area - from design, producing and programming, to marketing and web development. A lot of these people are some kind of gamer, but not all - and that is an actual fact... Being a gamer is by no means a requirement to work in this industry and I'm baffled why so many people think this should be some kind of universal requirement every studio should have before hiring anyone, for any position.
When it comes down to it, it's a job. Some SE's end up in this industry because it's a good starting off point, not necessarily because they've always wanted to program the next Street Fighter. The people in marketing are there more because they know how to sell a product, not because they have the best kill/death ratio in Halo or CoD. Jennifer Helper is writing because that's what she loves to do. She's getting paid to do it so she's luckier than a lot of aspiring writers, but Bioware hired her to do a job, not to be a gamer. Her job is to write, not design, not manage the entire art and story direction of every project Bioware has to work on. She writes for the titles she is told to write for. She does have someone to answer to, everyone does when they have a job.
There are times when being a fan or just plain over-zealous can be detrimental to your job in the industry as well. I've seen enough people get laid off or fired becasue they were too in love with their own ideas and couldn't see the big picture that it made them difficult to work with to know this to be true at least some of the time.
There are so many different types of people who are either working in the industry or are fans of the industry that I get kind of depressed when I see small (or large) contingents of people coming up with these ludicrous rules you have to live by if you want to be a part of this genre/clique/fandome at all. Bioware, for as long as I've known of them and followed them, have been extremely good to their fans. They're very active on the forums answering questions and responding to fans, they go out of their way to listen to their fans and make them happy. For example they're "patching" the latest Mass Effect novel which has a ton of lore errors, and (I don't know how much of this is true) when the screenplay of ME3 was leaked and certain parts outraged fans, they said they would make some adjustments regarding that as well. No one's perfect, and video game developers are no exception, but to me, Bioware makes a pretty good effort to stay as in touch with their fans as possible, and try to make them happy. To me at least, that counts for something.
So much of the very angry criticism flying around is based entirely on personal opinion. People stating their opinions as facts and then using it to justify the harrassment of a normal woman just doing her job, or to explain away why a company has gone no where but down is pretty scary to me. Just the amount of venom behind some of these remarks... It's easy to tell her that if she just wants to write she should go write a book, but it's never as simple as that. I can't claim to know exactly how she ended up where she is or why, but she is there now and for a reason. Just because you don't know what that reason is doesn't make it wrong, or a travesty, or any other exaggerated "bad thing" you may think it is. Maybe you really could do a better job. Maybe none of us will ever know because you spend too much time bitching about people on the internet rather than putting together a portfolio, or working on your manuscript, or applying for a job, or submitting your work to an agent. Maybe, maybe, maybe...
I got a little long winded and tangential, but my point is that not everyone who is a part of making games is a gamer. Having a passion for what you do is almost always a good thing. Being able to go to work and love it every single day would be great, but isn't always something everyone can have all the time, and that applies to the game industry as much as it does every other industry. I'd love an internet where the anonymity didn't equate to free license to harrass whoever you want over whatever you want, but that will not be happening any time soon. This is all based on my personal experience from working in the game industry. Take from it what you will. It contains both facts and opinions. It's hard not to judge when you feel strongly about something, but it's worth a try sometimes. Probably would save everyone at least some unecessary stress.