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Move over, Lasseter -- time to clean up the game industry


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  • Move over, Lasseter -- time to clean up the game industry

    Resignations and reckoning: Game industry’s existential quest for a more inclusive space

    "American culture — who it represents, what it says — is undergoing a rethink, a long overdue course-correction in which social movements against racism and sexual harassment and abuse have galvanized participants to demand change. Accusations of toxic behavior unfurl almost daily in social media threads against a host of actors, comedians, film executives and media personnel.

    And in recent weeks the entirety of the game industry has been put on blast.

    Chris Avellone, a high-profile game writer and designer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several women on Twitter, leading numerous companies to distance themselves from the storyteller known for his work on “Star Wars” titles and other role-playing games. Techland, the developer of “Dying Light 2,” issued a statement that said, “together with Chris Avellone, we’ve decided to end our cooperation,” citing “no tolerance” for “matters of sexual harassment.” Electronic Arts, distributor of “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” said in a statement, “EA has no plans to work with Chris Avellone moving forward.”

    Then late last month, several high-ranking staffers at gaming giant Ubisoft (“Assassin’s Creed”) were placed on leave after online allegations sparked a still-ongoing investigation of a range of sexual improprieties, many of which were detailed by Kotaku. After company CEO Yves Guillemot outlined several steps on July 2 for making “fundamental change” to Ubisoft’s workplace culture, an editorial vice president, Maxime Béland, resigned. Béland and Tommy Francois, vice president of editorial and creative services, who is on disciplinary leave, were part of an all-white male editorial team, which the company has now pledged to “revise.”

    In 2020, no aspect of gaming has been spared. Allegations of a range of aggressions that include sexual, emotional and professional abuse began on a large scale last fall, when independent developers, a prominent composer and an executive in the virtual reality space were accused of sexual harassment or abuse. Dozens of streamers on the gaming site Twitch have been singled out, as detailed by the New York Times, as have executives in the esports talent management space. The old-fashioned tabletop arena hasn’t been exempt either. Cards Against Humanity was subject to a Polygon investigation into its toxic workplace, resulting in its cofounder stepping down.

    Taken as a whole, the past month in gaming has pulled the curtain back on a business and a media subculture that has struggled to mature beyond its rebellious, boyish and boorish stereotypes. If there’s a difference between gaming and other industry reckonings that occurred in the wake of the #MeToo and TimesUp movements, it’s that allegations in the interactive entertainment industry significantly extend beyond obvious abuses of power and instead paint a picture of a broken culture, where anyone who is not a white male weaned on games has to engage in an uphill, exhausting battle to not be seen as an outsider...."

    "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
    it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
    together with every variety of recreation and fun,
    designed to appeal to everyone."

    - Walt Disney

    "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
    - Michael Eisner

    "It's very symbiotic."
    - Bob Chapek

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