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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Tripwire Interactive Tripped Over to Diversity-Hating Mob

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Ousted CEO because of one political post (which proves his point).

Once upon a time (May 2021, actually), the Texas state legislature passed the Texas Heartbeat Act—which enables non-governmental parties to file civil lawsuits against someone who intends to or has assisted in someone having a medically unnecessary abortion... for a minimum court award of $10,000 per abortion plus attorneys’ fees (see Sec. 171.208). It came into effect September 1, 2021. Here was a signing photograph for it:

Dawn Buckingham Texas SB8 Heartbeat Act abortion bill signing photo picture
Shout-outs to the men and the many women making heart-shapes with their hands.
(Because it's the Heartbeat act. ...There's a distinct lack of beating, though.)
Original tweet.

Why am I writing about this? Well, now that it's in effect, it's getting more attention, and that includes from gaming industry people... especially from ex-gaming industry people. Meet John Gibson, former president of Tripwire Interactive, a game studio out of Roswell, Georgia. The company mostly focuses on PC gaming, with titles like Red Orchestra, Maneater, and Killing Floor. They've also published games from other studios, like Chivalry 2 developed by Torn Banner Studios. Here's what Mr. Gibson said:

Mr. Gibson's point here is that he knows that discussing politics among the tech/gaming crowd is... divisive and not a good idea, but he wanted to give a shout-out to being pro-life because the lack of presence of that diversity of thought (the opinion you'd say out loud is that you are pro-choice) can be very discouraging. It's sort of like how black people said that former President Barack Hussein Obama was a big moment for them, because with him they can “see themselves” having a powerful position in life. Something to aspire to. A broken glass ceiling. That kind of inferiority complex when you see no one like you currently holding a life position you'd like to obtain one day doesn't just extend to superficial characteristics like your race or your gender, but also your thoughts and beliefs. After all, game development can be very clique-y and they want you to believe that only people of a certain belief system is working in the industry.

Unfortunately, the industry wishes to prove the point and actually bar people who hold pro-life views from employment. Thanks to Twitter brigading tactics, large quantities of Twitter mobsters claimed that Mr. Gibson is a Nazi, a member of the Taliban, or generally just a hater of human rights. And to really scare them, they claimed they're gamers (and some claimed to be big fans of the company) and will never support any Tripwire Interactive products.

It's always a classic question on what to do if you're a business and a Twitter mob is after you. The best advice is always to never bow down to the mob. Unfortunately, some of Tripwire's business partners, like the aforementioned Torn Banner Studios and Shipwright Studios (a co-developer for hire), expressed their displeasure with Mr. Gibson and even declared they would be cancelling their existing Tripwire contracts immediately. While Tripwire now knows who their real friends aren't, those cancelled contracts probably meant that they wouldn't be able to get out their next projects on the timelines they're supposed to. That has big implications for their employees’ livelihoods and the business's future.

As a result, Tripwire got rid of John Gibson and appointed a new interim CEO, Alan Wilson, who was also a company co-founder. Tripwire's remaining leadership team is promising remaining employees “open dialogue”, which they obviously didn't have with John Gibson. In terms of Tripwire's actual fanbase (not posers on Twitter who just wanted their threats to sound more authentic by claiming to be fans or potential fans), they had an overwhelmingly negative response upon hearing that Mr. Gibson “stepped down” over a personal and mainstream belief.

It's a shame that John Gibson died on this particular hill, because as a pro-life person in gaming, after I actually read the bill it became clear to me that it's a stupid piece of legislation. (Also, it's inaccurate to say the Supreme Court affirmed it... they just refused to block the law before an actual court case happens involving the law.) It's not pro-life. It's pro-lawyer. It's designed to pack law firms’ pockets with weird civil lawsuits. That's not protecting the rights of unborn children. It's just creating a weird profit incentive to try to rat your neighbours out. ...Though I'm not really sure how anyone besides the family involved and the doctors involved would know an abortion took place in the first place. I'm picturing bounty hunters hiding out in bushes outside of Planned Parenthoods trying to stalk whatever is going on, and I don't think that's the kind of society anyone wants to live in.

I've read a number of complaints that the time frame allotted for the law is far too early in an unborn child's development and the deadline for when an abortion won't put you in range of a civil lawsuit is due is before women even know they're pregnant. I don't know if that's true or not, since I'm not a human and don't know how that works, but there are a number of liars out there who claim that unborn babies at that stage are just a clump of cells without even a heart. Since the Heartbeat Act applies when a heartbeat is detected, obviously there has to be a heart involved. As for the time frame, the vast majority of people who choose to have sex know when they've had sex. For the few edge cases where it's a total surprise until later, the law doesn't carve out anything for them, which is concerning, since the time investment for system creators like legislators and game designers is normally spent fleshing out edge cases. The only edge case along those lines is that the someone who breaks the law in the course of impregnating a woman can't be the one who files the civil lawsuit (per Sec. 171.208 (j)).

Anyway, John Gibson's sincerely held beliefs leading him down to being baited to have a dumb opinion on a dumb law isn't a proper reason for him to get forced out... or “step down” as the official word says. I concede that companies have the right to respect or disrespect the principles of free speech. ...However, exercising your right to disrespect it and being a foe of intellectual diversity—a core American value—still makes you a jerk. Everyone should be very disappointed in Tripwire Interactive, Shipwright Studios (it's unclear if they uncancelled their contracts now), and the legions of imbeciles on Twitter. I know I won't buy their games... but I admit that's because I never was going to anyway even if this never happened, not actually because of any boycott.

KoopaTV welcomes intellectual diversity within its own staff (a staff that you're free to join regardless of your viewpoints, as long as you're good at the job and not a member of a terrorist organisation—though it's unclear how good at the job John Gibson was), as well as from the comments section. Feel free to tell Ludwig why he's wrong there, just down below. You're also free to be agreeable!

A very similar thing happened to Palmer Luckey.
Ludwig did review Choice: Texas, a choose-your-own-adventure game specifically about Texas's restrictive abortion laws and how that impacts people. According to its developer, Texas law was less restrictive then than it is now.
What happens to companies that express their pro-choice views?
Tripwire would later be acquired a year later, with John Gibson not involved any longer.


  1. Replies
    1. Well, their tolerance has boundaries.

      Incidentally, intellectual diversity also has some boundaries. More to come on that.


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