The 21st of February came with news of significant staff layoffs at ArenaNet. Around 400 employees were left in limbo for a further four days while they waited to find out who exactly would be affected. Once the 25th came around, the names of those who had lost their jobs came to us fans in a trickle on social media as developers said their goodbyes and well wishes for the future. 143 employees would go on to leave the company.
In response, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 fans have been tweeting their love and support using the hashtag #Love4ArenaNet on Twitter, reddit and even the official wiki. Many have been expressing what this game means to them. One member of the community, Blu Jasmine, had the idea to bring the hashtag, and all the love attached to it, into the in-game world of Tyria.
Blu: Many folks that play the game don’t really do the whole social media thing. There was no real outlet for our community to show them how much we cared. Because of this, I thought what better way to show them than by amassing in the game? It was my hope that by filling up maps of people, the devs would realize the magnitude of our support for them.
So, she planned a gathering and advertised it on reddit, wondering all the while if the event would be her and her tag, under the Lion’s Arch canopy, waving to passers-by.
Of course, this was not the case.
There was an impressive turnout on both the NA and EU servers.
Blu: It wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the help I had. Miko, Ayin and Alpha were the most helpful in spreading the word via Twitter and through various discord channels. PhamyCaint, Nyxantheos, MornJack, Maiya, Sin of Anubis, and Jeroen were folk that helped tag up and promote on reddit and on both EU and NA to make sure we had such a successful turnout.
The #Love4ArenaNet Event took place on the 28th of February in Lion’s Arch. There was a parade around the city with some poignant stops such as the frog pond, which was known to be a favourite area of Gaile Gray’s. There were also pure fun spots such as a climb up the lighthouse and a mass jump/glide down. During the march, Guild MM Trading Company [TP] used gold donated by their guildies to do impromptu giveaways featuring the legendaries Meteorlogicus and The Flameseeker Prophecies.
One of the most shared pictures from this event is of the commander tag formations where players with pink tags formed a heart. Those involved in trying to make this happen can attest that it was like herding cats!
While this herding and the fussing over symmetrical curves was happening, the players talked about how much the game meant to them and how thankful they were for the work that the employees, current and ex, had put into Tyria. One player suggested that the 28th of February be an annual ArenaNet Appreciation Day, while another suggested everyone take off their boots in honour of Barefoot Matthew.
When asked if this would indeed become an annual event, Blu Jasmine replied that the idea has been proposed to her and from early inquiries about this prospect, the response has been good. She is on board to coordinate and organise it if she can get some assistance.
Afterwards, players headed to the Wedyandt’s Revenge jumping puzzle as a nod to Josh Foreman and his creative jumping puzzle designs. For the same reason, much of the event had a steady backdrop of Super Adventure Box music as players pulled out their boomboxes.
The purpose of the event was to show those who were affected by the layoffs, the community support from the fans in-game. Hopefully this was a success. In the recent Warclaw preview, Mike Z talked about the outpouring of support from fans and under #Love4ArenaNet on Twitter, messages and memories that were shared and retweeted. The #Love4ArenaNet event was a slice of an overall feeling of empathy from the community. Blu Jasmine expresses this feeling well:
Blu: I want to personally thank all the people that are no longer with ArenaNet. While I don’t know everyone that was affected by the layoffs, I know these folks poured their hearts, souls, and imagination in to the game we all love. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them for all the amazing content they gave us over the years. This event was primarily for them, but I feel that we also need to show our support to the staff that remains. I’m sure this loss has been hard for them as well.
Though it’s been a mournful time and doomsayers seem like they have the loudest voices, the steady stream of support from the community has hopefully had a positive effect on both ArenaNet and player morale. I, at least, feel confident about Guild Wars 2’s future.
Header image by Rhachii /GW2 Community discord