Nintendo is being criticized by the International Games Developer Association (IGDA) for their recent dismissal of Treehouse marketing’s Alison Rapp last week. Although both the company and Rapp have agreed that her employment termination was a result of her failure to follow company guidelines — having a second job — Kate Edwards, the executive director of the IGDA believes that this action has further implications.
Who is Alison Rapp?
Alison Rapp has become labeled as a “social justice warrior”. However, some video game enthusiasts aren’t in agreement with what she supports. In one instance, some fans of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series were upset when controversial elements from the Japanese game were removed during the localization for American audiences. In the Japanese game, Fire Emblem Fates, there was a “gay conversion” scene where a potion was used to turn a lesbian straight. Since she was was the spokesperson for the Treehouse group (the group responsible for localizing the game) it was probably not dificult for her attackers to paint her as easy target. In addition to changes in games, she has spoken out about other situations in the gaming industry, such as uncompensated crunch time. This phenomenon has been a long-term challenge to overcome. Many game companies require their staff to work longer hours during the final process of shipping games, only to immediately move them to another crunch time project once they finish the one they’re working on. However, this issue is now on IGDA’s radar and they will be privately raising their concerns with game companies with the expectation of improvement.
Why did she get fired?
According to both Nintendo and Rapp, she was fired for having a second job on the side. However, the timing of the internet hate she encountered and the time of her termination were close enough together that Nintendo has been assaulted with inquiries of whether she was fired so they could distance themselves from her attackers.
The IGDA issued the following statement on the issue:
“While Nintendo’s official statement on the matter of Alison Rapp’s firing strives to distance the company from anything related to the orchestrated online campaign of harassment and defamation that was raging against her, their timing in dealing with the issue is dubious at best. Unfortunately, the company seems oblivious to the consequences of their actions, not realizing the perceived victory it handed to the online hate groups who are now pursuing the dismissal of other women game developers by derision and defamation to their companies. By now, we would expect that all game development and publishing companies would be fully aware of negative social media dynamics and be more discerning of online feedback, as well as more protective of their employees — especially their employees of diverse backgrounds. Many have become proactive and aware but this industry obviously needs to make more progress.”
Although the termination occurred and an inopportune time, Nintendo has dismissed the argument that her dismissal was a response to harassment. They provided the following statement to GamesBeat:
“Alison Rapp was terminated due to violation of an internal company policy involving holding a second job in conflict with Nintendo’s corporate culture. 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.”
Regardless of the timing and what may have encouraged the company to review her files, Rapp confirmed that she had been working at another job which is against Nintendo’s company policy.
To pay off student loans (weeee), I started moonlighting under a fake name, and with no real identifiers.
— smol pterodactyl (@alisonrapp) March 31, 2016
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