Content note: mentions of harassment and abuse, toxic workplace environments, queerphobia and transphobia.
Welcome back to Get Your Game On! My name is Zainabb and it’s been A Week. While I’m dealing with grief, mega-fatigue, and depression, this week’s gaming news almost feels lighthearted even though we’re still dealing with harassment and abuse in the industry, fuckin’ NFTs, and a reminder that our global queer fam continues to fight against oppression!
Please do at least one nice thing for yourself today and get some fresh air, even if it’s just by opening a window for five minutes.
IGDA Reportedly Mishandled Its Own Harassment and Abuse Complaints
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) allegedly mishandled harassment and abuse complaints made against its former Women in Games Special Interest Group chair, Jennifer Scheurle. (Please note that this link contains mention of physical and emotional abuse and harassment.) Scheurle stepped down from the role last year in the wake of those complaints.
When the complaints against Scheurle were made public, the IGDA stated it had previously conducted an investigation into the accusations, finding no evidence of “wrongdoing.” Now, an investigation by GamesIndustry.biz alleges that the IGDA failed to follow its own harassment reporting procedures, resulting in a dismissal of an initial formal complaint against Scheurle and a breach of confidentiality.
Another formal complaint was filed in 2020, which the IGDA promised—and then failed—to follow up on with the complainants. The failure to follow up on the complaint also constituted a violation of the IGDA’s own “Responding to Harassment Complaints” policy. Eventually, the complainants were informed that the IGDA would not be taking further action on the complaint, without providing additional details or an explanation. GamesIndustry.biz also reports that other conduct complaints, separate to those brought against Scheurle, never received a follow up or ruling.
The IGDA has been vocal about supporting those who have made accusations of abuse and harassment throughout the industry. In their response to the GamesIndustry.biz report, they stated that they’ve updated their policy on “Responding to Harassment Complaints,” transforming it into a “Ethics Violation & Harassment Investigation Process.” They also stated they will create an Ethics Committee to handle conduct complaints and investigations moving forward.
EA Won’t Sell Its New The Sims 4 Wedding Pack in Russia
Upcoming game pack The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories won’t be sold in Russia due to the country’s anti-LGTBQIA+ laws. The game pack adds new wedding venues and items to the base game, as well as gameplay features like engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, and henna and tea ceremonies.
The game is set to be released on February 17, but EA announced last week that the game pack won’t be coming to Russia. The Sims 4 has already been given an 18+ rating in Russia, branded as “gay propaganda” under the country’s anti-LGBTQIA+ laws. The announcement trailer for The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories explicitly focuses on the romance and marriage of a queer couple.
The Sims team released a statement explaining why they won’t release the game in Russia, stating that they are “committed to the freedom to be who you are, to love who you love and tell the stories you want to tell” and that they decided not to release the game in places “where our storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws.”
In other news…
U.S. Army recruitment tool and first-person shooter, America’s Army, is shutting down on May 5, 2022. While the game will remain available to play offline and in private servers, players will no longer be able to access the public online mode. Since its launch in 2002, America’s Army has been criticised as propaganda that targets children and teenagers for army recruitment and gamifies military occupation, particularly in relation to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Let’s get the NFT news out of the way. Zynga, the studio behind social games like Farmville, has started recruiting a “studio-sized” team to work on NFT and blockchain games, aiming to build a team of 70 to 100 people by the end of the year. The news comes after Rockstar announced plans to purchase Zynga for $12.7 billion last month.
PUBG developer Krafton announced it’ll develop an “NFT metaverse platform” (I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it stops: my skin truly crawls every time I have to write phrases like this). I don’t have much more to say about this one because Krafton haven’t announced many details and it just sounds like a normal MMORPG but this “metaverse platform” will involve user-generated content.
Tabletop RPG publisher Chaosium is planning to release more Call of Cthulhu NFTs after releasing 2,000 last year, which is apt because both NFTs and Cthulhu result in the terrifying destruction of our planet!
After Worms studio Team17 announced and then backtracked on NFT plans, employees have spoken out about working conditions at the company. Anonymous workers have stated that many internal teams were not made aware of the company’s NFT plans, while employees who were privy to this information had their concerns dismissed. Employees also revealed issues around low pay, overwork, sexual harassment, and a toxic working environment, with management failing to make changes despite workers’ complaints.
Finally, Ubisoft employees have criticised the company on an internal message board in response to blockchain and NFT plans. As we wrap up this segment of “No Fucking Thanks,” let’s all bask in the warm glow of this tweet:
Things are going real well at Ubisoft pic.twitter.com/z4OQT5pdmU
— Windows 98 Tech Support (@Win98Tech) February 11, 2022
In better news, United Paizo Workers had their first negotiating meeting with Paizo leadership this week, where they agreed to ground rules for further discussions. Congratulations, United Paizo Workers!
Good news! Our negotiating team had their first meeting with the Paizo leadership team today. The two groups quickly agreed to ground rules for the negotiations, and we're looking forward to continuing the discussions #PaizoUnionized
— United Paizo Workers #PaizoUnionized (@PaizoWorkers) February 4, 2022
Ahead of Uncharted‘s theatrical release this week, Tom Holland told GameSpot that he wants to be in a “weird and dark” live-action Jak and Daxter film next, which is great for him and may suck for everyone else because Uncharted director Ruben Fleischer announced this week that his next film will be… a Jak and Daxter adaptation.
Telltale Games has announced The Wolf Among Us 2, planned for release in 2023. Set six months after the end of the first game, the sequel will focus on a new case for Bigby, the hardboiled sheriff of Fabletown. The game will be released on PC and consoles.
Thanks so much for joining us in Fabletown today!
— Telltale Games (@telltalegames) February 9, 2022
Original Halo trilogy composers Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori are suing Microsoft for unpaid royalties, allegedly going back 20 years. O’Donnell and Salvatori claim that they originally licensed the use of their music to Bungie while Microsoft claims that the music was produced as “work-for-hire,” which grants copyright and publishing rights to the company.
In other lawsuit news, the suit brought against Capcom by artist Judy A. Juracek has been quietly resolved. Juracek claimed that Capcom used images from her artbook without a license. A dismissal was filed on February 7 to end the case.
Gary Bowser, who helped to create and sell devices used to hack consoles including the Nintendo Switch, has been sentenced to three years in prison alongside a $10 million fine. Yes, that’s his real name (and apparently the current Nintendo of America president is called Doug Bowser). Gary Bowser worked with several people around the world on the hack scheme.
Twitch no longer allows usernames containing references to sex and hard drugs in an update to its username policy. The policy already restricted terms relating to hate speech, threats of violence, and personally identifiable information. Twitch hopes the move will curb harassment on the platform, which is often conducted by users with offensive terms in their IDs. Existing users with IDs that violate the updated policy have until March 1 to amend their username.
Riot Games is expanding on its existing player moderation systems in free-to-play shooter Valorant, in an effort to clamp down on voice and text chat abuse and harassment in the game. Riot is trialling the use of “Player Support agents” who will focus on responding only to reports of unwanted player behaviour, and it’s also rolling out automated detection systems for text chat.
February’s Nintendo Direct announced upcoming releases of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Splatoon 3, Nintendo Switch Sports, No Man’s Sky, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes and more for the Nintendo Switch this year. The event also announced DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and a free update for Metroid Dread.
Classic side-scrolling adventure games Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil are being remastered for PC and consoles. To celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary, the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is coming to Nintendo Switch on July 8, and to PC and other consoles at a later date.
Chrono Cross is also being remastered for Nintendo Switch. Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition will be released on April 7 and it’ll come bundled with Radical Dreamers, a Chrono Trigger text adventure from 1996.
1994’s sci-fi classic Earthbound is out on the Nintendo Online service for Nintendo Switch. The original game in the series, Mother 1 is also available under the title Earthbound Beginnings.
Disgaea 6 Complete, which collects the Nintendo Switch title and all DLC, is coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 this summer. You can watch the announcement trailer below:
The Saul Zaentz Co is selling its rights to J.R.R. Tolkien-related material, including films, games, TV shows, merchandise and theme parks (!) based on The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and other related intellectual properties. The rights are expected to sell for at least $2 billion. Would I spend an extortionate amount of money to visit a Lord of the Rings theme park? Possibly. Alongside its upcoming TV show, does this mean Amazon might buy the rights to produce a Lord of the Rings game I will never play? Possibly.