A recent attempt by The Washington Post to seemingly shame industry members into taking a pro-abortion stance on the current debate surrounding the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade has instead resulted in the discovery that most video game companies would prefer to stay out of the conversation all together.
The news outlet vented their frustrations regarding the subject on May 11th, publishing an article headlined “As Roe v. Wade repeal looms, video game industry stays mostly silent.”
Co-written by Shannon Liao and infamous video game journalist Nathan Grayson, the piece sees the pair take issue with how “In the wake of a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion essentially confirmed that Roe v. Wade’s days are numbered, most of the video game industry’s biggest companies have remained conspicuously quiet”
Opening with brief mentions of how Bungie, Double Fine Productions, and ArenaNet have spoken out against the potential overturn, the piece soon directs its attentions to those who havent, condeming how “the majority of gaming’s heaviest hitters appear to have kept both their mouths and wallets closed [regarding Roe v. Wade]”.
“This silence is especially conspicuous following the industry’s near-uniliteral support of causes like Black Lives Matter in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and anti-Asian hate as a result of the covid-19 pandemic,” Grayson and Liao explain of the source of their grievances.
“In both of those cases,” they recall, “many big companies released statements, donated to charitable causes, updated internal policies and added in-game features to allow players to express their support.”
The two then reveal that they had “contacted 20 major video game companies about whether they planned to make a statement regarding Roe’s potential repeal or provide employees with monetary aid in places where abortions would no longer be available,” – the latter already made policy at such companies as Amazon and Disney.
However, it seems The Washington Post was overall snubbed in this endeavour, as only Microsoft and Activision Blizzard replied with statements.
“Microsoft will continue to do everything we can under the law to protect our employees’ rights and support employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care — which already includes services like abortion and gender-affirming care — regardless of where they live across the U.S,” said the Xbox parent company.
They further noted that “this support is being extended to include travel expense assistance for these and other medical services where access to care is limited in availability in an employee’s home geographic region.”
Likewise, Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George told The Washington Post, “We are committed to an inclusive environment that is supportive of all of our employees. As a company, providing fair and equitable health care is a top priority, and we will closely monitor developments in the coming weeks and months.”
The company’s commitment to these goals was further confirmed in an internal team email, itself viewed by The Washington Post, wherein Blizzard President Mike Ybarra stated “I realize we are late and I am sorry. It has been incredibly stressful for Blizzard (and me personally) as we read the news.”
After explaining he had met with leadership the day prior on how the company would address the matter, Ybarra added, “I realize this isn’t very helpful, but I’m being honest with where we are and what we are discussing across the company.”
Sharing their disappointment at this very small respondent size, Grayson and Liao proceeded to balk that “some companies remain mum on the matter” because “Gamers have a tendency to bristle at issues pertaining to women both in-game and out, as evidenced by regular online blowups against prominent women in the industry.”
Asserting that said tendency was “pioneered by 2014′s ‘GamerGate’ movement” – despite well-documented evidence to the contrary – the pair further cite the “recent scandals surrounding sexism and corporate culture” at such companies as Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and even Twitch as evidence to their claim.Turning to the topic of Bungie’s previously issued statement in support of “essential healthcare rights”, Grayson and Liao reported that employees within the Destiny 2 developer were happy with the company’s public display, even if their fans were not.
To this end, an anonymous Bungie employee told The Washington Post that Bungie is currently “looking into” financial healthcare support for employees in Texas.
Additionally, in a companywide email, Bungie higher-ups told employees that “in the longer term we are investigating ways to help affected employees preserve their right to essential health care both in Washington state and those working remotely.”
“Right now, game workers just want some semblance of stability with Roe v. Wade’s potential repeal threatening to rock their foundation,” concluded Grayson and Liao. “A commitment to reproductive health care from their employers, in their eyes, would at least be something.”
Though they likely assumed their efforts would be lauded as heroic, the actual response to the article’s base premise was anything but.
In fact, many seemed to mock The Washington Post for attempting to strong-arm companies into taking a side -particularly one against the repeal of Roe v. Wade – in a highly controversial and politically charged matter.
Much of this mockery was directed towards Grayson in particular, as his former position as a Kotaku writer and one of the main figures whose actions sparked Gamergate has unsurprisingly led to him having an infamously poor reputation among general players.
Quoting Grayson’s tweet of the article, @JSargeras snarked, “I love coming back to Twitter after 5 years and the same sjw trash is still whining about #gamergate.”
“You see it’s ‘people’ like this that demand that companies get involved,” @JSargeras continued. “They’re the ones that Force companies to take a stance. And woe be to them if they take the wrong stance.” This would match how some have pushed for US corporations to become “human rights leaders” amid Florida’s anti-grooming bill.
“This is honestly a real bad trend to force companies into politicized positions they have nothing to do with,” noted PhD Psychologist Chris Ferguson, best known for his work debunking the link between video games and violent behavior. “This reflects worse on Washington post than the game industry.”
“This is a toxic new way of journalisming’,” criticized @thethriftygene. “You reach out to neutral actors on X, most don’t comment, then you write about ‘the silence” or for those who speak, ABC spoke out against X. You create a whole controversy, where non existed, by yourself, and then report on it.”
“Could you follow up and ask Mario and Sonic how they feel about the escalation of violence in Palestine and what Israel’s role in the Middle East should look like?” mocked freelance journalist Ryan Zickgraf.
This joke appearing to strike a nerve, Grayson responded to Zickgraf’s tweet, “People are suddenly losing their minds over this piece (lol), so let me spell out the rationale behind it:”
“1. Game companies were extremely vocal following george floyd’s murder, covid-born anti-asian hate, etc. silence here is telling,” said Grayson. “[This silence on Roe v. Wade] suggests broader disingenuousness.”
“2. this is an instance in which companies can provide monetary support to employees impacted,” Grayson implores. “Major tech companies have already committed to doing so. that makes their responses here directly and tangibly relevant to workers’ lives.”
“3. this is all explicitly spelled out in the article, which none of these people read before clutching their pearls and doing their best impression of the woman yelling at cat meme lmao,” Grayson desperately tried to label.
However, Grayson’s somewhat bitter retort did little to stem the tide of criticism against his piece.
Even after this explanation, CSPI President Richard Hanania ridiculed, “The job of a ‘video game reporter’ at the Washington Post is to call up video game companies and ask them to speak out in favor of abortion.”
Taking note of the article’s publication, independent journalist Christopher F. Rufo – citing his Drop Disney campaign – proudly claimed “We changed the game with the campaign against Disney. WaPo tried to pressure companies into supporting left-wing abortion activism, but that tactic doesn’t work anymore. Companies know there’s now a price to pay on the other side.”
“So you used your position as Jeff Bezos’ attack dog to threaten companies you claim to ‘cover’ that they better support the violence of abortion or you’d sic a violent mob on them,” derided The Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway. “You’re a baddie — and NOT a journalist.”
What do you make of Grayson and Liao’s report? What about Grayson’s response to critcism? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!