Nintendo Fires Treehouse Employee Amid Public Controversy

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Update: Nintendo has provided an official statement (via IGN) regarding Alison Rapp’s termination:

“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.”

Original post follows: Alison Rapp, a product marketing specialist of the Nintendo Treehouse division, was let go from the company as the result of a scandal surrounding statements made by her. Taking to twitter, Rapp made the announcement in a series of tweets.

“As many of you know, the last couple months have been quite a whirlwind of controversy and GG harassment. Today, the decision was made: I am no longer a good, safe representative of Nintendo, and my employment has been terminated.”

She went on to elaborate on the events that led up to the decision. At the center of it is what Alison claims are members of the GamerGate consumer revolt – an online phenomenon that supporters define as an effort for ethical video game journalism, while opponents of GamerGate claim it’s an attack on women in video games.

Alison cited articles by Patrick Klepek of Kotaku as relevant to her situation. The first of these dates back to December 2015 with a piece on video game localization and a debate on the definition of censorship. Klepek wrote that Rapp was mistaken as someone involved with localization for Xenoblade Chronicles X, a game that was criticized for some changes made in it’s release to the West.

The second article published in early March of this year shows escalation in the public scrutiny that Rapp had faced. “Rapp is currently the target of a social media war attempting to get her fired by accusing her of defending pedophiles,” Klepek said. Playing both sides of the field, he made an effort to explore both facets of the issue. “Rapp doesn’t translate or localize games, but she has been outspoken on Twitter about online abuse against women in gaming. She’s been labeled an “SJW” and has received the requisite online blowback,” Patrick stated in regards to the possible political motivations behind the decision. But he also acknowledges that “Rapp’s essay isn’t perfect and her tweets suggest she was, at least years ago, someone more comfortable with the ideas of teens being seen as sex objects than the average American might be.”

This makes the issue divert into two different beliefs. Was Alison Rapp a controversial figure that Nintendo saw as liability? Or was she the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the GamerGate revolt?

In regards to being a possible liability: As recent as December 2015, she showed a continued interest on discussing the topic of pedophilia online. One of these tweets became the center of public scrutiny. Wherein Rapp stated “Don’t hate on: sex workers, furries, women with big boobs, men who like kids/kid things, ppl who like pop music, romance plots”.

Questions and concerns began to raise around Rapp’s interest on the topic of children. It was discovered that as far back as December 2010, Alison made controversial tweets about pedophilia on her twitter account.

Citing the GamerGate movement as the reason for her removal makes it hard to discern the exact reasoning behind the decision. The kotakuinaction subreddit that hosts GamerGate discussions has evidence that suggests conflicted opinions on the issue.

On one hand, it can be proven that Alison Rapp was a topic of GamerGate discussions as far back as February 2015, when a user posted a thread stating “Alison Rapp doesn’t think Sexism against Men can Exist”. The poster attached an image that showed tweets detailing Rapp’s criticisms of the concept of misandry. From then on, Rapp was seen as a subject of interest to members of the GamerGate movement.

But it’s also important to note that GamerGate as a whole did not share a similar opinion on Alison Rapp’s work. A reddit thread discussing the issue made it clear that GamerGate was staunchly divided on the issue. One popular comment stated:

“This has always been THE most difficult part of being in GG for me. Finding that balance of being effective without becoming what we hate. On the one hand, we cannot be expected to fight with both hands tied behind our backs, eschewing all effective tactics in the name of pure idealism, when no matter what we do, or how many gestures of good faith we make, they will smear us as monsters either way. That’s not practical or realistic, we have to be able to play the game as it exists, because we don’t have the ability to change the rules. On the other, there has to be a line SOMEWHERE that we won’t cross, if we adopt no bad tactics only bad targets, we may not become THEM, but we just become another flavor of asshole.In this case, to be fair, at least, unlike the SJWs, what we’re accusing Alison Rapp of is at least true and we have direct evidence of it. But WHY are we doing this? What has she done, specifically, that makes her deserve to be fired? Has she attacked us in some way? Breached an ethical obligation? Provably lied to the detriment of a person or a game? Done anything other than be an SJW and believe SJW things?”

Things escalated at the beginning of March 2016, when Jamie Walton of the Wayne Foundation took notice. She contacted Nintendo of America’s corporate staff personally and made them aware of the ongoing public dispute.

We can assume that Walton and other critics of were successful in getting Nintendo’s attention on the issue, now that we know that Alison Rapp was removed as a result of the ongoing scandal surrounding her.

But GamerGate’s involvement can only really be linked to bringing the matter to Jamie Walton’s attention. On March 17th, she gave an update on her efforts with Nintendo.

GamerGate may have raised questions about Alison Rapp, but it seems as if Jamie Walton’s own investigation into the matter is what caused Nintendo executives to act. What exactly was Nintendo’s reason for finally going through with the firing? We may never have a clear answer to that question, as Alison Rapp stated that specifics were confidential.

Although the immediate situation has come to close, the discussion of localization, GamerGate, and the involvement of outside politics in video games will no doubt continue.

Source: Twitter