Hi there! It’s me again! Time for your weekly dose of the GAMES JOURNALISM ROUNDUP GAME where we get you your games on. Now, listen: I try to keep things cheerful here in GYGO, but I’ll be straightforward with this one, it’s a bit heavier than usual. So I’ll start with the cute stuff first, but as a CW: later on, this GYGO will contain several references to homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and discrimination.
Overwatch Brings Two Trans Gamers Together, and Now They’re Engaged
What more can I say? Oh, there’s one more thing I can say: Overwatch made a guest appearance in the Twitter thread to say, essentially, “mazel tov.” You heard it folks, Overwatch said trans rights!
On a freak snowy day in April I randomly matched up with the most amazing person playing a game of Overwatch. I knew from the first day that we had something special. We happened to both be trans and had everything in common. Yesterday began a new chapter in our crazy journey. pic.twitter.com/HA78BEdcLR
— Cat "Herine" Graffam (@catgraffam) August 21, 2019
Riot Games Settles Class-Action Lawsuit
Riot Games has finally settled the longstanding class-action lawsuit it’s been engaged in for nearly a year, wherein two former employees alleged that the company had a prolific culture of harassment and discrimination. Riot Walkout, the group that staged a walkout back in May to protest the company’s sexist culture and forced arbitration policy, called the settlement “a victory for women in games.” Although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney called it “a very strong settlement agreement that provides meaningful and fair value” in a joint statement that was published on Riot’s website.
Ion Fury “Won’t Be Censored” AKA The Controversy Continues
So this one might need some explaining for you out there who, like me, weren’t aware of the controversy until, say, today.
Ion Fury, an old-school shooter recently released by developers Voidpoint and producers 3D Realms, has some pretty nasty homophobic language in it (and some of the developers have made pretty awful sexist and transphobic statements as well), which of course led the LGBTQ+ and basically everyone but the non-cis-het-white-men gaming community to be pretty upset. Obviously. So, Voidpoint and 3D Realms responded to the outcry with a statement decrying hate speech and stating that “We unequivocally apologize both for these comments and language as well as for any pain they have caused the gaming community, particularly women and members of the LGBTQ community.” This statement came with a promise to patch the game to remove the offensive language, as well as to donate $10,000 of the game’s proceeds to The Trevor Project.
But, of course, some members of the gaming community took offense to the statement, which led to 3D Realms and Voidpoint walking back their original promises.
In response to the public statement, Ion Fury began to receive “review bombs” on Steam, where angry gamers left reviews of the game that brought down the game’s ratings. In these reviews, gamers accused the developers of engaging in “censorship,” by addressing the concerns of marginalized gamers who were offended by the game’s treatment of gay and trans people, particularly the use of slurs.
The angry commenters got what they wanted. The review bomb led Voidpoint and 3D Realms to issue a new joint statement on Monday, saying that the homophobic terms in the game would not be removed after all and that they would “absolutely NOT be censoring Ion Fury or any of our other games, now or in the future, including but not limited to by removing gags such as gaming’s most controversial facial wash.”
The statement did not address the donation they promised to make to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth, but Voidpoint said on Twitter that it is “absolutely still donating.” But they went back on their word on the other thing, so we’ll see whether they actually do.
This Week In Crunch
As games and the gaming industry get larger and more ambitious, developers and studios have taken to forcing mandatory overtime on their workers to meet deadlines and demand. This controversial and exploitative workplace culture—where employees are overworked, underpaid, and burnt out, followed frequently by mass layoffs and ever-increasing wage inequality between workers and high-paid executives—is known as “crunch.” TWIC is a column within a column where Emily Durham brings you news about this week’s world of crunch.
Recently, Hasan Minhaj used his show, Patriot Act, to put a spotlight on the labor issues being experienced by so many video games industry workers. From development crunch to gender inequality, Minhaj brought to mainstream media what most won’t touch: the systemic issues rife in the community, rather than a simplified message that “video games lead to violence.” By pinpointing the real violence in video games, the violence against the workers by management, Minhaj has proven that he understands the real dangers of labor exploitation in the workplace and how they apply to the video games industry. Bravo.
Death Stranding, the highly anticipated upcoming video game by Hideo Kojima, has been confirmed explicitly by the producer to be in “crunch mode” in order to finish the game in time for its scheduled release.
DEATH STRANDING has the element of something never existed before, the gameplay, the world atmosphere, the visuals which we aimed to create. The studio I established was tiny indies but trying our best to deliver the product launching on Nov 8th. Still in crunch time of dev🌈 pic.twitter.com/sNvTAc7wwB
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) August 1, 2019
On the other side of the spectrum, Obsidian Entertainment, the developer of the upcoming game The Outer Worlds, has committed to be a zero crunch studio. “Obsidian is not a crunch studio, which is one of the things that keeps people staying there for a long time,” said Brian Hines, a senior designer on The Outer Worlds, in an interview for PCGamesN. “There really hasn’t been a crunch or a death march or anything like that with the studio for quite a long time, as far as I can remember anyway. That’s definitely one of the things that as a studio we’re very committed to, we’d rather cut something than try and get people to not have a life outside of the industry.”
In Other News…
- Wichita cops start flagging potential swatting addresses
- Before Tetris 99 popularized battle royale Tetris, there was Jstris
- Minecraft Java update adds bees, honey farming, harmony, hope
Emily Durham is a science writer by day and a Sidequest copyeditor by night. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her playing Stardew Valley or Sunless Sea, sewing korok cosplays, or taking blurry pictures of her two perfect cats. She tweets sporadically at @EmilyRoseDurham.