Mass Effect Andromeda Animator Harassed Over False Information

Internet denizens go off half-cocked over poor information, harassment ensues.

News by Mike Williams, .

This weekend, one Electronic Arts employee came under fire from purported Mass Effect Andromeda fans offering insults and attacks over what they believed was her contribution to the game. Allie Rose-Marie Leost is an animator working at EA's motion-capture studio in Vancouver. The Ralph Retort, a site one probably shouldn't be using for actual news, accused Leost of being the lead animator for Andromeda. The blog further implied that she used her cosplay celebrity status and sexual acts to get a job at EA.

Kotaku saved a small sample of the tweets sent to Leost. Many of the attacks are harsh and a number of them are outright misogynistic. And they're based off of faulty, incorrect information peddled by a rumor-monger.

Bioware stepped up to defend Leost with a statement on Twitter.

"Recently, a former EA employee was misidentified as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team. These reports are false," said Bioware general manager Aaryn Flynn. "We respect the opinions of our players and community, and welcome feedback on our games. But attacking individuals, regardless of their involvement in the project, is never acceptable."

Online abuse has become depressingly common these days. There's is no need to harass someone online for any reason. Even if Leost was the lead animator for Mass Effect Andromeda, there are ways to make your feelings known without harassment. Social media is there to allow people to have a conversation, not to allow you to hurl invective at whoever you choose. The connection is supposed be a conscientious one, not a divisive one.

Mass Effect Andromeda's Animations Will Be Fixed, But Not At Launch

Bioware is aware of the issue, but won't be able to apply fixes with a day one patch.

We're all passionate about games and the work that goes into them. Unfortunately, that passion is increasingly being turned towards anger and hate, over what? Nothing and nonsense. We literally just wrote an editorial about the anger thrown in Jim Sterling's direction because he gave The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 7/10. USgamer had to ban a number of folks hurling horrible comments in Caty's direction over her Horizon Zero Dawn review.

You can dislike something without unloading on its creator. I think Batman v Superman is a bad adaptation of two great characters, something I've talked about at length online. That said, I wouldn't go yell at Zack Synder about it, even if I did have the chance. It's better to have a conversation. It's better to ask questions. Or alternatively, it's better to just distance yourself from whatever is causing you issues. If any of these had happened here, even with the false information at play, this wouldn't have been a problem.

We are better than this. We should act like it.

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Comments 19

  • Avatar for VotesForCows #1 VotesForCows 10 months ago
    This is so depressing. People are such idiots sometimes.
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  • Avatar for superberg #2 superberg 10 months ago
    Even if she lied...

    SO WHAT?

    People lie all the time. She isn't hurting anyone but herself in this instance. This isn't worth the harassment she's receiving.Edited March 2017 by superberg
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #3 mattcom26 10 months ago
    I have a theory...
    The people who perpetrate online harassment like this and the other instances Mike mentioned are the same people who: don't vote during elections, endanger everyone on the road with reckless driving, cheat taxes, tip badly, etc. I could be wrong but probably not. Common decency is something you either get or you don't.Edited March 2017 by mattcom26
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #4 chaoticBeat 10 months ago
    @mattcom26 It seems like too tidy of a theory to me. I also think that trump caters to the gamer gate crowd...
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #5 KaiserWarrior 10 months ago
    I'd like to preface all of this by saying that nobody deserves harassment. Basic decency should be, well, basic. Even if the animations on a game are bugged all to heck (as they were with Andromeda), it's enough to say 'They did a bad job with these animations' and move on.

    That being said, I don't really think it's the case that "Online abuse has become depressingly common these days." More accurately, it's that the advent of social media has brought awareness of an always-extant fact of internet culture to the masses.

    It's similar to crime: by all available measures, crime rates for just about every crime (other than mass shootings, which is a whole different can of worms) have gone down over the years. We are safer now than we have ever been, objectively. Yet people are more afraid than ever to go outside, or to let their children out of their sight. It is a simple fact that a child was in FAR more danger being on their own in the 80s than in the 2010s, but parents in the 2010s are FAR more worried about it than parents in the 80s. It's entirely due to media coverage; with the 24/7 cable news networks having to fill all that time with SOMETHING, they fill it with the stories that get eyeballs: crimes of every sort, the more horrifying the better. This drives up the perception of ubiquity, which leads people to believe that it's worse than it actually is.

    People have been trash-talking each other over video games since the 90s. It's not a new thing, and though nobody can really prove one way or the other, I would be very surprised to hear that it's substantially more prevalent now than it was then. It's just that more people hear about it now. Now that it's all done over Twitter instead of obscure internet forums and IRC chatrooms, people get exposed to it when they wouldn't have before.

    There's also the "leaving the bubble" factor. There are a LOT of people on social media, from all walks of life. To be blunt, there are a lot of people that simply haven't spent any time in the harder parts of the world, or even the US (assuming a largely US audience). Again, NOBODY deserves that kind of harassment... but it is a fact that such harassment is HARDLY unique to the internet, or twitter, or even Video Games as a sub-culture of the internet and social media. But twitter takes people that would normally never leave, say, Portland or Silicon Valley, and throws them into the same gigantic room as people from much less "nice" places.

    To put a finer point on it: there is nothing that goes down on Twitter that even comes close to some of the stuff I encounter just stepping outside of my front door. People that are exposed to that sort of thing regularly can handle it. People that are not exposed to that sort of thing tend not to do so well when they finally are.

    Nobody should have to. But it is what it is. Social Media does link us all together. But it turns out that we all come from different places, with different lives and experiences.

    And not all of them are pleasant and rosy. I wish it wasn't that way, and you won't see me contributing to that kind of unpleasantness. But it is what it is.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #6 Tetragrammaton 10 months ago
    Depressingly unsurprising. Some folks on a non-gaming forum I frequent were gleefully mocking Bioware's request to end the harassment, and were upset when I called them on their bad behavior. This stuff's endemic and I have no idea how to make them feel empathy for the victim rather than self-righteous pride that it's happening.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #7 Jonnyboy407 10 months ago
    What a shame. Man, it must suck to be a woman on social media. Feels like women get targeted for this type of stuff more.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #8 LBD_Nytetrayn 10 months ago
    "We are better than this. We should act like it."

    Sometimes, I really wonder if this is true, given all the contrary evidence.
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  • Avatar for alecJ #9 alecJ 10 months ago
    This is terrible reporting.

    Dont make any judgments off this piece, its leaving a ton of information out and of course whining because of a few jerks on Twitter.

    Should we label everyone at Bioware racists because of the anti white employee they had leaving hateful messages all over Twitter?

    No. Of course not. Groups are not guilty of one persons misdeeds.

    But including that part of the story would have been actual reporting.

    Its this kind of hack garbage that causes problems. No wonder i rarely visit this website.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #10 MHWilliams 10 months ago
    @alecJ What is the part you disagree with?
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  • Avatar for kingaelfric #11 kingaelfric 10 months ago
    @alecJ you have to adapt your response script to the actual article; it's pretty tough to see a guilt-by-association angle to "these things happened."
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #12 SatelliteOfLove 10 months ago
    Worthless scum.

    They're just so one-dimensional how they go about it, ain't they? Bots have more on-the-fly maneuvering.
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  • Avatar for swamped #13 swamped 10 months ago
    Sweet Jesus. Well good on Bioware for standing up for a former employee when we've known a few companies who let current employees bear the brunt of harassment alone (and maybe even fire them after cough cough).

    I dunno what happened here and I'm not going to pretend it's not hilariously bad, but I've read too many stories about animation teams not being given the time and resources they need to deliver a quality product to automatically assume it's a lack of talent. I mean, the production team ultimately okayed this so presumably they thought it was "good enough."
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #14 WiIIyTheAntelope 10 months ago
    @swamped If you're referring to Allison Rapp, and I'm pretty sure you are..she didn't get fired because of twitter shenanigans. She was fired because of her extracurricular activities outside of work. In this case her activities were a career in the worlds oldest profession and she had been playing all the websites as fools. The actual reason for her termination was uncovered about 2 or 3 days after the initial ordeal, but none of the websites ever bothered to report on it. Other than I believe Kotaku, which buried a unmarked ninja edit into the middle of their original post, rather than post a new story.

    Neg all you want. Doesn't make it any less true. Google the name Maria Mint if you don't believe it.Edited March 2017 by WiIIyTheAntelope
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  • Avatar for MyNameIsMe #15 MyNameIsMe 10 months ago
    @MHWilliams I appreciate the spirit in which you wrote this piece Mike, but who is the collective "we" that you're addressing? When did the entire gaming world become a community? When did an entire group of people with different personal values, ages, maturity levels and social skills become one cohesive community to be made responsible for each other's actions? Now you can take a much smaller group, like the USGamer readers, and call THAT a community. It is much smaller; we tend to have more regular contact with each other, and many of us were attracted to this site for the different perspective it brings to games journalism. But from what I've seen, the USGamer community is comparatively well behaved and well mannered. This is the second article I've read from USGamer editors reporting on news and backhandedly lecturing their readers. Why? You're preaching to the choir.

    I teach teenagers at a small private school. They are incredibly well behaved and responsible. When I see a news piece on bullying in schools, I don't come in and tell them "we need to do better". THAT community of teenagers that was on the news has no association with MY community of teenagers. They don't belong in the same group so I don't lump them together. Sometimes, we have someone come and tour our school for the day. If that student doesn't know how to behave, we just deny enrollment and kindly ask them not come back. I don't then sit down and have two long lessons on behavior with my existing students, and I don't bring it up again to my students. It doesn't make sense to.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't understand the insistence on trying to lump a community together based on some arbitrary criteria, such as a shared pass time, and then lecture or judge that arbitrarily held together community based on the worse offenders. I love me some hamburgers, but that doesn't somehow rope me into a community of all hamburger eaters. That's why I don't personally feel bad or responsible for the two idiots that got into a fistfight in the McDonald's down my street.

    I tended to gravitate towards USGamer because it skews more mature. From what I see in your comments that is true of many of your readers. And from the number of comments in your articles, I also glean that there aren't many of us. You'd be hard pressed to find a BioWare harasser or Jim Sterling DDoSer in your regular readers. So why the lecture?Edited March 2017 by MyNameIsMe
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #16 MHWilliams 10 months ago
    @NTWHA I noted in the article that "purported Mass Effect Andromeda fans" perpetrated the harassment, but it seems I needed to be far more overt.

    I write not merely to USgamer commenters but to any in our community who would read such a post. Anyone. If you are beyond this message, by all means, carry on.

    But in these past two weeks, we have harassment at Caty of the HZD review. Jim Sterling has been harassed and attacked. And now, a low-level employee at Bioware is on the hit list over poor animations that were the purview of someone higher up.

    Those who are malcontents aren't us, but they are *a part of our community* as gamers. It is up to us to continue to be good people, to show others the way forward as a community. Our readership here at USgamer is quite good. That example needs to be applied elsewhere, because it's becoming increasingly clear that it cannot be ignored. Our reach is beyond that of just our regulars.

    To use your example, if there is some bullying and your local superintendent of schools says "We need to do a better job about school bullying", the point isn't "Everyone is bad", it's "We are faltering and there are definite ways we can improve for the betterment of everyone."

    If you feel your exempt, then by all means, continue to be great. But I'm perplexed by the idea that saying to our community - "our community" being enthusiast gamers, a community that contains USgamer readership, but is only a subset of game playing folks at large - can and should be better in how we express out displeasure towards creators. That is a message that is somehow wrong to deliver is odd to me.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #17 KaiserWarrior 10 months ago
    @MHWilliams A good deal of it has to do with long-term fallout from gaming's earlier years.

    After being told for a couple of decades (the 80s and 90s) that being "a person who plays video games" made you a bad person -- alternately a devil-worshipper or a mass-murderer in training, a friendless loser, etc. -- some people developed a defense reflex. A callout on "gamers" or "the gaming community" is seen as a callout on them personally because, well, for many years it was.

    Old defensive habits die hard, and very very slowly.

    It's simultaneously the root cause of a lot of the gating that goes on -- "not a real gamer", etc. While there are of course cases of pure malice, as there are in all things, a lot of the time it has more to do with history, and people dealing with some very deep, very old wounds. "You didn't suffer through the things I did to 'earn' this hobby, so you're lesser".

    Not saying it's right, because it isn't. But it's something I can understand.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #18 MHWilliams 10 months ago
    @KaiserWarrior I can understand it as well to a point, which is why I tend to write these things in an even-handed manner.
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  • Avatar for MyNameIsMe #19 MyNameIsMe 10 months ago
    @MHWilliams@KaiserWarrior I understand your points. I may not have conceptualized my the point as well as I wanted... But I feel you're both right. About halfway through your article and I was like "man! this is a good piece of news and gaming journalism and commentary." Then the last few paragraphs threw me off, because it read like you were coming at us as the readers as somehow part of the nonsense going on. KaiserWarrior is correct in a sense. I sort of take articles that call out gamers personally, but ONLY on USGamer. I sort of felt like it kind of was a place to get away from a lot of the nonsense that happens on more mainstream gaming sites, but over the last few weeks that nonsense was making its way over here. That's why I've been reading your articles for years but haven't been commenting, and why I've kind of been commenting a lot lately. But in any case, sorry for coming at you sideways just for trying to write a different type of article. I recognize that wasn't very fair, and not very well articulated.
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