Hello, and welcome to GYGO. I’m Kael, and Black lives matter. Here’s the news!
Games Companies Address Systemic Racism… to Varying Degrees
This week’s protests of the murder of George Floyd, and systemic racism in the police as a whole, continue to move the US and much of the rest of the world. The actions of protestors inspired many games industry companies to release statements addressing systemic racism, but most have been cagey on the details.
Some companies, such as Valve and Epic Games, have remained silent as a whole. Many, such as Nintendo, Blizzard, Warner Bros. Games, Bethesda, and Capcom, have released statements condemning racism, but made no immediate announcement of concrete actions. A few, such as Niantic, Pokémon, Bungie, Riot Games, Square Enix, and Ubisoft, announced initiatives to donate or match donations to various organizations engaged in anti-racism work.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare made an in-game statement that developer Infinity Ward stands against racism. They also promised to devote more in-game resources to monitoring the problem of racist gamer tags and voice chat instances, including an in-game report feature that I was surprised to learn Call of Duty didn’t have already.
Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive shut down their game’s online servers as a memorial service to George Floyd. While they did not announce any official plans to concretely support protestors or combat systemic racism, they did suggest that they were donating in a follow-up tweet.
Meanwhile, indie platform Itch.io is putting money in the hands of activist organizations. Itch.io is hosting a charity bundle of 1,400+ donated games that’s raised over $2 million for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund and is still going at the time of publishing. Another indie platform, Humble Bundle, announced that they will be setting aside a million-dollar fund dedicated to publishing Black developers, before encouraging their userbase to donate to the NAACP or Race Forward.
Accusations of Racial Bias Shake Game Workers Unite
They do not stand in solidarity with us.
With enormous sadness, I quit @GWU_UK in protest at @GameWorkers. Share the name, share the responsibility.
There is no point in a union which is in itself so mired in white supremacy it is only able to perpetuate rather than de-root it. https://t.co/F1CHqFwQUz
— Meghna Jayanth (@betterthemask) May 31, 2020
This week the Seattle chapter of Game Workers Unite called for the dismissal of Marijam Didžgalvyte, a former member of Game Workers Unite International’s leadership team. The statement from the Seattle chapter condemns actions “condescending and dismissive towards POC” on behalf of the organization, and criticizes Didžgalvyte for “exclusionary behavior and bullying.”
Specifics on the situation have not been announced by either chapter of the organization, but Didžgalvyte believes it stems from a disagreement with Lionkiller developer Sisi Jiang. According to Didžgalvyte, she told Jiang that she didn’t think the main Game Workers Unite chapter should focus on anti-racist action. She’s since retracted this stance. According to gamesindustry.biz, members of the industry have suggested that the incident Didžgalvyte mentioned is part of a larger pattern of behavior within the organization.
If anyone is wondering why @GameWorkers isn't speaking up rn when gaming Youtubers are: last year, I asked them to put out a statement condemning white supremacy.
One of their leaders personally told me that they didn't want to alienate game developers by condemning racism.
— sisi / 姜思琪 / future baal haver 🍥 (@six6jiang) May 30, 2020
As part of a thread on the organization, Jiang herself posted that “One of their leaders personally told me that they didn’t want to alienate game developers by condemning racism.”
Game Workers Unite confirmed to gamesindustry.biz that Didžgalvyte is no longer with the international chapter. They also posted to Twitter that the social media platform would be run by The Organizational Transitional Period Committee, rather than Didžgalvyte. They’ve also been vocal in support of current protests across America and claim to have empowered an anti-racism committee to act on the international level of the organization.
GWU unequivocally and unilaterally supports all actions taken by black protesters against police brutality, the US police state, and the institution of the police itself. It is imperative that non-black workers follow the lead of their black comrades in these times.
— Game Workers Unite ✊🏿✊🏽✊🏾 (@GameWorkers) May 30, 2020
In Other News…
- Multiple events have been postponed or moved to digital, including Steam Game Festival, EA Play Live, Sony’s PlayStation 5 event, and Summer Games Done Quick.
- Activision investors are starting to worry CEO Bobby Kotick is making way too much money, with the average employee making “less than 1/3 of 1%” of his pay.
- Kerbal Space Program 2 development studio Star Theory had their IP pulled and their staff poached after unsuccessful negotiations with Take Two.
- People are protesting more things in Animal Crossing.
Stay safe out there!
A genderless eldritch beast bound to mortal flesh. Interests include games, gardening, magical realism, and the complete restructuring of America’s political and economic systems. Frequently orders too much food at restaurants. Tweets @unnnez.