Jennifer Hepler was a writer with BioWare who worked on the Dragon Age series. She was Gaider’s “second-in-command”, according to DAWiki, and she oversaw the development of dwarven culture, the Orzammar plotlines in DAO, and the Mage-Templar war. She wrote the Dwarf Commoner Origin, Anders, Bethany, Cullen, Gamlen, Leandra, Elthina and Sebastian, and she wrote most of Cassandra in DAI…
… That is, until August 2013, when she was chased out by a bunch of manbaby trolls who erroneously blamed her for the stunted development time inflicted on DA2, among other things, and who accused her of being a “cancer on the industry”.
It was awful, just awful. I can’t really talk about what happened to her without getting too incensed to think straight, so if you want to know more, you can read all about it here.
All I said was that Jennifer Hepler was a bad writer. How does that warrant a million messages calling me a misogynist? I hate the terrible trite nonsense she puts out for a living, not her gender. Sheesh.
the concept of rivalmances is a really interesting way of presenting relationships in a game and i even find the fact you can truly 100% be a disgusting person to your romance of choice in da2 to be … not brilliant but dynamic, overall the friend/rival system in dragon age 2 is far more fun to play than approval/disapproval
BUT it’d be nice if the writers didn’t consider rivalmances to be the “right” path, wouldn’t it. (im talking about you, jennifer hepler). it really sours the experience to know some of the writers think the CORRECT choice is to be abusive. like im ok with rivalmances bc they’re not the only option - you can have varied relationships and play morality however you like, with more nuance than in other da games? so being encouraged to play a nasty abusive character really gives me a bad feeling?? they want you to do that, and it makes me Not want to
honestly just stop letting vg writers comment on what they work on lol
First off, if anyone wants to know where I stand on various Anders issues, I want you to check out Part 1.
The short version: I love Anders with all of my heart. I really, really do. I romanced him, on the rivalry path. But that doesn’t mean I put him on a pedestal.
I have the same problems with the infamous Jennifer Hepler post as the rest of you do. I have made several posts already about how mage issues cannot be likened to mental illness—or any real-world oppressed force for that matter—because mages are legitimately dangerous and those with disabilities are not dangerous in and of themselves. However, she does make a point that I agree with, to an extent.
The theme of Anders’ character arc is that you cannot save him.
This is true of both the romance and the non-romantic route, but I’m going to be focusing mostly on the romance, since that was my experience. Anders’ and Justice’s corruption into Vengeance and subsequent fall to it is not something you can stop, regardless of how much love and support you pour into him.
And I think this is wonderful.
Right now, I’m going to outline the rest of this post. And then I’m going to dive in.
First, I’m going to outline the exact parameters of Anders’ corruption. From Act 1 all the way to Act 3.
Second, I’m going to talk about why the fandom is so angry about this corruption, and why I love it so much.
Third, and finally, in the context of all of this, I’m going to talk about why I think the Rivalry path is the objectively correct answer for dealing with Anders, and defend my decision to kill him in the end.
With that in mind, let’s dive in.
(This post ended up being really really long so I’m putting it behind a cut, but I highly encourage you read it.)
anders is not canonically bipolar. i keep seeing people claiming he is and it makes my blood boil because it’s just straight up not true.
the source of this claim is an interview with his writer jennifer hepler where she claims she used bipolar and other mentally ill people as inspiration for writing the anders/justice dynamic because he’s also “battling with his inner demons”.
this is so horrifyingly offensive and wrong that i don’t even know where to start. claiming that being bipolar is the same as being possessed by a demon is ableist as hell; not to mention that it has an unfortunate historic precedent seeing as mentally ill people used to be executed because people believed them to be possessed by evil spirits.
my manic or depressive phases are not two different people that live in my head. my psychosis is not comparable to some guy who can shoot fire out of his hands. my life as a mentally ill person is not a metaphor some asshole gets to use to make their fantasy game ~deep~.
and that people would validate this ableism by claiming it is representation is straight up hurtful to the actual bipolar people you are claiming to champion.
And it’s thanks to this mentality that celebrities finally deem it best not to interact with their fans at all. They forever leave the internet and let their agents speak and interact with fans in their stead. These people can only see so far. They don’t view the full reach of the ramifications of their actions.
Until recently, Greg Ellis had been recording ringtones, responding fans’ comments and engaging in other varied social interaction with them in an attempt to break away from the norm in the entertainment industry and shower them with attention, which is what every fan desires from any celebrity.
(He even changed his reclusive tendencies and suggested to the Cullenites to attend more conventions so as to meet them in person. The narrow-minded stupid average person will interpret this attitude as an egotistical, self-centered strategy from the actor to flatter himself and increase his fanbase.
But the intelligent person already realized this is actually what any clever celebrity would do, since it benefits both parties: the fans and himself. After all, he IS an actor. Actors capitalize on their image and fuel their fans’ adoration for him, making them feel special while promoting their career. The dim-witted person interprets that as narcissism, while ignoring the obvious fact that the whole entertainment industry is based on the worship of a few chosen individuals. Therefore, Ellis is just following the normal behaviour expected from a professional like him.)
Until the unfortunate incident happened. Now, some people spend their free time baiting him in a way to render their dull days more interesting. Harassment and vebal abuse are fine, so long as you are behind a computer screen and know nothing will happen to you, that there will be no consequences for your actions. This is why you don’t do it in real life. Otherwise, if you got caught, you would lose your job, become slandered in school and/or college, and you just don’t have the guts to answer for your actions.
That’s why internet is so good. It provides unlimited freedom with practically null consequences. Even if it shows your true face to billions of people who ALSO acess the internet: someone with a lousy character and loose morals, capable of anything, if given the opportunity, like slandering, discriminating, intellectual dishonesty, double-faced and other acts Greg Ellis has been lately accused of. Exactly the kind of person you work so hard to show you’re not.
They go to the extreme of distorting his words and then posting them on tumblr as if it were some kind of trophy.
Thank you very much. You have proven a point with this. That from the beginning, you were never his fans as a VA from Bioware; that you were as childish and as ill-intended as Patrick Weekes, David Gaider and Jennifer Hepler had already pointed out when discussing the behaviour of certain people in the Bioware fandom.
That you dehumanize people just for your own entertainment in a self-serving attitude, harming people’s careers without a care.
That you use celebrities to satisfy your egotistical pathological need for attention, misusing social networks in an online competition to have more audience each time you post.
That your admiration for Bioware is in fact a lie, since you show disrespect to the production team, the VAs, anyone who doesn’t share your views or your morality whenever it suits you. The casual way in which you comment said facts on tumblr also shows your disregard to how other human beings feel in response to your actions, evidence of your lack of empathy. Or simply lack of emotional intelligence. Or just plain dumb immaturity, take your pick.
In a few words, you deserve what celebrities have always given their fans: NOTHING.
And it’s because of your sterling behaviour that we, the other fans, the ones not fuelling the fights, asking for people to stop the harassment and watching the whole situation unfold, may end up with nothing as well.
Thank you very much and enjoy the fun. You’ve proven every point Bioware had to say about its fandom. In your continuous effort to spew morality, you’ve forgotten it’s your actions that will tell everything others need to know about you.
You may disguise your flawed character and the failure you are as a human being with as many apologies as you like. Apologise on your tumblr, apologise on your twitter and pretend you’re doing all this because you fight against bullies, misogyny and discrimination in general…while bullying and discriminating other people yourself.
Just don’t try doing it in real life. Ever heard of the old saying “never cry wolf?” You’ll discover only children believe they can get away with everything. Adult life is different. People are always watching your behaviour and judging you in silence. You won’t know when they pull the carpet beneath your feet. TRUST ME.
And since the clever people out there know there’s nothing more to be said on the subject, this is my last rant about this display of idiocy online.
#4. We’re Incapable of Mature Conversations About Gender
There’s a baffling disconnect where gamers want to be taken seriously, but they also want to be able to call Quinn (or Anita Sarkeesian, or Brianna Wu, or Jennifer Hepler, or the woman who just chainsawed them in half in Gears of War) insults that the average convicted sex offender would consider over the line. They want to have their asshole cake and eat it too.
Well, guess what? If you can’t talk like an adult, then you have to keep sitting at the kids table. But I’ll let you in on another secret: it’s not hard to talk like a sane adult human.
CONFESSION: Anders in DA2 initially creeped me out, made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t want him in Hawke’s life at all. Then I learned that Jennifer Hepler purposefully wrote him as a bipolar person who planned to commit suicide via an act of terrorism, and it was up to Hawke to decide if the relationship was worth it. That was a brave decision for Bioware’s to make and respect them for doing this. The Anders romance is not something I’m interested in while gaming, but I am glad they wrote it so well
Before Dragon Age 2 came out there was a developer video on the game regarding the story. Featured in the video was one of the writers for the game, Jennifer Hepler. This is about when the hate train for Bioware in general started rolling and Dragon Age 2 was the catalyst for it. /v/ for the most part absolutely loathed the game for numerous reasons, and they attributed a lot of the problems with the writing in the game to Hepler, even though she wasn’t really responsible for a lot of it. Regardless, she was hate on a lot at the time and there were numerous Photoshops of her like having her name tag in the video changed to “Hamburger Helper”, poking fun at her last name and for her being large.
Eventually the game came out and it garnered just as much hate as the weeks leading up to it and then /v/ started talking about other games. Hepler from then on always just kind of cropped up whenever Bioware was mentioned, such as when The Old Republic started getting hate on /v/ or when more Mass Effect 3 news started popping up. Hepler was mentioned and featured in some of the categories during the Vidya Gaem Awards and that’s pretty much how it went until very recently.
Up until this point, most of the hate being sent in Hepler’s direction was containted within /v/ or other small communities and barely anything if at all was actually sent to her directly. However, within the last couple of days someone had made a post about her on Reddit and called her something to the effect of “the cancer killing Bioware / gaming”, which is something /v/ had been saying from the start. This caused a shitstorm on Reddit and eventually the post was taken down because it was just a big flame war and many users on Reddit were actually sending hateful e-mails and messages on Twitter directly to her. Other Bioware employees were coming to her defense and were backing her up, as she was being seriously emotionally affected by it all in real life. Bioware issued a statement regarding it and donated $1000 to an anti-bullying charity in Canada because of the incident.
I think the real kicker of it all is that this is happening now, nearly a year after it originally started on /v/, and it was Reddit who stirred the pot this time. Almost every single tech and gaming blog I’ve seen that have covered this incident has attributed the hate to originating from Reddit. Even though I go to Reddit myself to peruse for content, any instances where Reddit is cast in a bad light, I’m all for. That site is just one big circle jerk.
tl:dr;/v/ makes fun of Hepler for nearly a year. Someone on Reddit decides to make a post making fun of her. Reddit starts shitstorm online. Reddit gets blamed and /v/ gets off scot-free.
Jennifer Brandes Hepler, Anders’ DA2 writer, just posted on his thread on the BSN about her take on the rivalmance. As someone who has difficulty wrapping my head around rivaling him, I found it interesting:
I always felt that thing about rivalry relationships in DA (for everyone, but particularly Anders) is that they’re all talk, no action, and that’s why they’re still a form of relationship instead of the termination of that relationship. Gaining rivalry points with Fenris is a very different thing than actually turning him over to Danarius. When you are earning rivalry points, it means you are still loyal to the character, and they are still loyal to you, despite your disagreements.
When I wrote rival Hawke, I was imagining her gnashing her teeth in frustration that Anders can’t see the mess he’s made of his life, and he’s just as frustrated that she can’t see that he’s in the right about it. She tries to shock him out of his acceptance of what he’s become to force him to see that Justice has corrupted him (and ultimately succeeds when they split sufficiently for Justice to just take over and do the bombing, albeit not in a way that ends up benefiting anyone). Anders, for his part, recognizes that for all that Hawke says, she’s saying it out of concern for him, since if she really just saw him as unsaveable, she would turn him over to the templars. It’s certainly not a healthy relationship, but it’s definitely a dynamic that exists in real life (granted, in real life, they’ve usually had time to build a foundation of that relationship *before* the crazy starts, but I thought it was at least a dynamic some people would relate to).
I think Hepler has actually stated that she left for family/career reasons. Not that that makes any part of the abuse okay, and that's not to say it didn't impact her decision--but I remember her commenting on the fact that she didn't want (1/2)
(2/2) anyone thinking she’d let herself be chased out. (I don’t necessarily agree that that’s what it would have been had that been the case, but I
feel like her side if the story is important to note)
Of course she said that. If YOU left your job because you and your family were receiving multiple death threats every day, would you ever publicly say that was the reason you were leaving? Or, by admitting that, wouldn’t you feel that you were letting the bastards win?
I don’t doubt that Hepler’s choice to leave was a complicated one, and that there was more to it than we on the outside ever saw. But I think you have to be willfully obtuse to believe that she DIDN’T leave primarily because of the horrific treatment she experienced, at the hands of people who claimed to be fans of her work.
I mean, okay, yes, she cited “family” as a main motivation for leaving BioWare — but, well, “people are threatening on a daily basis to murder my children and drink their blood” would certainly count as a “family” reason in my book. I don’t know how it gets clearer than that.
Note: No more asks will be answered or published about this. I am done talking about it. What happened makes me too angry and sad and scared, even still.
literally everyone involved with the whole jennifer hepler thing right now who is defending her and in doing so claims that the people hating on her are ‘male’ or who feels the need to bring gender into it AT ALL are COMPLETELY missing the point and are the absolute scum of the earth.
Jennifer Hepler did not leave BW because of the harassment. That’s what the Metro article hashed but they got their information from another article, where Hepler clearly states she’s not leaving because of the death threats and etc. We may not know the story 100% but for the sake of her privacy, let’s not pry or start pointing fingers.
We can still be angry about what happened to her in the past (because it was terrible and people are still saying terrible things) but let’s keep our facts straight, okay? Okay.