The Washington Post has a new article out this week ripping into the gaming industry for its “silence” on the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade, a long-standing precedent with popular support in the United States that protects women’s and other birthing people’s right to abortion health care.
As we’ve previously noted, Destiny 2 studio Bungie and Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet both released statements of support earlier this month; in fact, ArenaNet’s parent company NCsoft did the same for the rest of its umbrella of MMORPGs, essentially signaling full support for health rights and the people whose bodily autonomy will likely be subject to state regulation largely piloted by religious belief rather than science or health.
But WAPO points out that “the majority of gaming’s heaviest hitters appear to have kept both their mouths and wallets closed,” which might suit the “keep politics out of gaming/business” folks just fine but doesn’t actually comport with the industry’s already established willingness to make statements, add in-game content, and raise piles of donations in the service of political issues, such as BLM, AAPI, and most recently, Ukraine. And of course, these companies are providing health care coverage to workers in the US, so the companies’ positions on this particular topic are extremely relevant.
WAPO says it asked “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,” but only Microsoft and Activision Blizzard responded. They join other tech behemoths like Amazon and Tesla, which have likewise sounded their support.
Microsoft’s statement points out that it already supports its workers’ rights to access “services like abortion and gender-affirming care” even in states where that is already effectively impossible: “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.”
Activision-Blizzard’s statement is briefer and says it will “closely monitor developments in the coming weeks and months.” Acti-Blizz, of course, is currently embroiled in a massive sexual harassment and discrimination scandal packed with lawsuits and does not have a great record when it comes to reproductive health for its workers. One worker interviewed said flat out that Bobby Kotick was “failing” workers on this topic, while Blizzard’s Mike Ybarra apologized last week on Twitter for the company’s lateness in regard to messaging to employees.
WAPO also spoke to Bungie workers following the harassment Bungie faced after making its own statement, noting – fairly – that the gaming industry has its own poor record for “issues pertaining to women.”
Apparently, some workers across the industry are participating in what’s been dubbed The Mother’s Day strike, which runs through May 15th, in protest of the looming court decision.
Jim Ryan's email, seen by Bloomberg News, does not take a stance on Roe v. Wade or abortion rights but does declare "that dogs really are man’s best friend, they know their place, and perform useful functions like biting burglars and chasing balls that you throw for them."
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 12, 2022