Beloved games company Nintendo have become the subject of controversy after they terminated the employment of PR staffer Alison Rapp yesterday.
Rapp was a member of the marketing team for Nintendo’s Treehouse, which received criticism for changes made in its localization of Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fire Emblem Fates for Western audiences. Rapp became the target of sustained habuse from members of the gaming community over the changes, despite not actually being involved in the development side of things at all.
After months of people digging through her tweets, and touting an old college paper of hers from 2011, the harassment group began openly contacting Nintendo petitioning to have her removed from the company, with sites such as Neo-Nazi community The Daily Stormer chief among them. Yesterday, they got their wish, as Nintendo ended her employment with the company. Nintendo then issued statement claiming the “criticism” aimed at Rapp by these individuals was not a cause for termination, but rather her having a second job was.
Though Ms. Rapp’s termination follows her being the subject of criticism from certain groups via social media several weeks ago, the two are absolutely not related. Nintendo is a company committed to fostering inclusion and diversity in both our company and the broader video game industry and we firmly reject the harassment of individuals based on gender, race or personal beliefs. We wish Ms. Rapp well in her future endeavors.
Since, Rapp has been openly talking about the incident, claiming that moonlighting was an acceptable practice while working for Nintendo. She claims that before being fired she was quietly moved from public relations to a position where she wouldn’t be a public face for the company. She requested we not blame Nintendo squarely for this but rather the culture surrounding video games that has become increasingly toxic towards women and minorities.
Openly feminist and what many consider an “SJW” (read: someone on the internet serial harassers dislike), Rapp is known for tweeting about issues such as sexuality, gender and the laws and culture that surround them. The essay in question was a paper exploring Japan’s relationship with its child-sex laws and sexuality. It’s on her LinkedIn page and her tweets have all been publicly visible for at least some of her time as an employee of Nintendo. She wasn’t hiding them nor was she hiding from them, at least not until she became a target and every word she uttered became a potential weapon against her. If her higher-ups wanted to see them, they wouldn’t need to look far.
The sad truth is that the wave of harassment that Rapp suffered isn’t unusual in video games, to the point where it has become a side effect of working in the industry for many. Patrick Klepek of Kotaku did a full journalistic report on what Rapp endured, along with other members of the game development and localization world. It didn’t matter that Rapp wasn’t responsible for the things her harassers disliked – she had become the martyr for their crusade and she was going to suffer and that was that.
Klepek‘s followup piece on Rapp being fired noted that Nintendo did very little to support their employees while she was being harassed. The Japanese gaming company allegedly just moved her to another job, hoping it would go away. This is the part that games critic Jim Sterling has taken the most umbrage with, calling out Nintendo’s “Corporate Culture” for its apparent value of sterility over employee wellbeing. Rapp‘s job being cut does seem in-line with such an accusation as the easy fix for them is to simply remove her so that the mess leaves their doorstep altogether.
Rapp has explained the situation further on her twitter feed and has received support from many in the games industry who feel very disappointed in Nintendo’s actions. One indie developer tweeted that they had just decided to can bringing a game to the Wii U as a result. Whether they meant to or not, the gaming giant has given credence to the bullying, shaming and harassment that many in gaming culture engage in to get their way. We wish Rapp all the best at this troubling time.