Monday, April 11, 2016

Rapp it up! (Goodbye Alison)


I'm a little late on this, but with the new information that has come to light, I'm kind of glad I waited so long.

Let's talk a bit about the recent firing of one Alison Rapp. Nintendo's former Treehouse Public relations liaison. Rapp was let go from Nintendo on March 30th , and decided to throw out a litany of tweets talking about the subject. Those tweets were picked up by Kotaku and our man, Patrick Topkek and the narrative was in full effect, until IGN, in a strange turn of events actually contacted Nintendo for comment, and received the following..

“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.”

Now, I'm not going to pull the whole “her firing is bad and you should feel bad” angle, because let's face it; She was fired as a result of her own behavior. Much of the information presented was basically in the public domain, and being presented by Rapp herself.

Of course it's easy to blame internet hate mobs, Jamie Walton's actions , The scrutiny of her thesis, or the supposed conspiracy to silence a Feminist in media and create a hostile environment towards women , the bottom line is her firing was a direct result of her own behavior online and failure to remain professional while maintaining being the public face of a company.

News outlet, The Guardian states that a month after her hiring, Rapp had been asked by Nintendo to cease discussion about Rape culture because it could become a “big story”. She goes on to say that after returning from her vacation she was stripped of her spokesman status and was forced into a “lateral move”, and she couldn't lead games as a product manager anymore.

A lateral move is basically a shift to another job position on the same level with your previous position with the same title and pay. She claims that because of GamerGate, Nintendo started looking at her tweets and realizing she was not a good representative of the company.

Rapp had also claimed that she had been fired for “Anonymous moonlighting”, which she also goes on to state that Nintendo did not have a problem with. Nintendo's corporate policy, however says otherwise..

employees must conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner. Nintendo emphasizes courtesy, dignity, respect and safety as corporate values and seeks to create an atmosphere of mutual respect for all Nintendo employees, temporary workers, contractors, vendors, customers, and visitors.

It is Nintendo's policy to conduct its business affairs ethically, fairly, and impartially. It is the responsibility of all employees, officers, and directors to avoid situations that are, or could be construed as, conflicts of interest or inappropriate attempts to influence business decisions. To that end, Nintendo prohibits its employees from accepting any gift of more than nominal value or entertainment that is more than a routine social amenity in that it could be, or could appear to be, an attempt to influence the recipient into favoring a particular customer, vendor, consultant, or other outside entity.

In my former life as a Graphic Designer, I've had to look over policies like these with an HR representative and have them verbally explained to me as a means of ensuring that I understood the policy before signing them, so I'm 100% without a doubt that she had to do so as well.

With that being said, receiving gifts from admirers in return for racy photos you promote on the same twitter account that you use to promote a family friendly company, could easily be seen as holding a second job in conflict with Nintendo’s corporate culture, But with the information we had at the time, it didn't paint the entire picture of what Rapp was doing..  

But of course that doesn't stop the Rapp defense force from trying to drum up outrage. Former Minnesota Vikings kicker, Christ Kluwe in a show of solidarity with Rapp, promoted a boycott of Nintendo products. Others tried to create a hashtag labeled #NintendoCowardice, which is hilarious considering the fact that at the height of the Fates controversy, gamers who rocked the #TorrentialDownpour hashtag were mocked for supposedly boycotting the game.

No bad targets, huh?
Meanwhile, we have various news outlets throwing out slam articles directed at Nintendo for failing to protect Alison from internet scrutiny, despite the fact that unlike Chris Pranger who was dismissed immediately after talking about company sensitive information on a podcast, their actions with Rapp seem like they were trying to minimize damage and allow her to still keep her job, until she literally showed her ass in public. In one of these outlets, IGDA executive director, KateEdwards goes on record for having “Strong words for Nintendo” .

"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.”

Kate, who are the developers that this “hate mob” are perusing to get dismissed out of the industry? I've tried to look, but I just can't find the proof to back up your claims..


Well to be fair, who better to talk to people about negative social media dynamics, than a spokesman of the IGDA, and remember when the IGDA blacklisted developers and gamers who spoke out against the corrupt practices going on under the radar, despite the practice of blacklisting being discriminatory and illegal?

Oh Kate eventually stated that the IGDA will stop using the blockbot, but she should have been fully aware of negative social media dynamics and the repercussions of using a blacklist tool to silence those who have criticisms of how the IGDA and the IGF operate, but that's only my opinion.

Much like it's the opinion of Brandon Sheffield to seem to think that withholding his game would actually force Nintendo to change their minds and apologize to Rapp for firing her..

Oh, Mr. Sheffield!
Sheffield, the head of Necrosoft Games has announced that he was canceling the Wii U version of their puzzle game, Gunhouse. To which the reply was “nobody fucking cares”. The truth of the matter is, if you're going to virtue signal about a game you're not bringing out to a console that people only want for the first party exclusives, then it's a good chance your game wasn't going to generate that much interest in the first place. There have been developers who were smaller and lesser known who have pulled out some really good games on the Wii shop channel and Eshop respectively. Nindies at home are proving that. Granted, journalists may have given your game praise, however with too few reviews for an actual metacritic score, this gallant move to defend m'lady fare is only hurting you in the longrun.

This ultimately leaves Nintendo in the position to say this in response...

I hope none of these folks find out about GameZone's recent article which claims that Rapp may possibly be a high profile escort...

Yes, you heard it here, folks. According to multiple sources, it was discovered that her anon moonlighting job was basically running an escort service within the greater Seattle area, and apparently going by the name “Maria Mint”.

So the takeaway from this is: Nintendo fired Rapp for holding a second job in conflict with Nintendo’s corporate culture. Rapp hit the ground running and blamed #GamerGate for her firing and for her troubles when she was in fact violating their policy and was in conflict with Nintendo's corprate culture. The media, The IGDA , and everyone who came out in defense of Rapp came out in droves. Patrick Klepek, himself wonderd “Why am I the only one covering this??” And the answer is, because the people who knew better were waiting for all the elements of the story to arrive.

As those members of the Rapp defense force are sitting there with copious amounts of metaphorical egg on their faces, the question begging to be asked is; “will we see those retractions?” Should we hold our breath for them, even? Not if you want to die of Asphyxiation. The best part is watching those same people squirm in their chairs, knowing that all that grandstanding and virtue signaling amounted to absolutely nothing.

Well as much as I want to continue talking about this mess, I think we're about as done as Alison's PR career, here. Don't worry, I'm sure the people who tried to martyr her will find someone else to champion in time. Nintendo if they haven't already will most likely be vigilant about the background informaiton of their new hires, going forward. That's A. Rapp!

- see you next bossfight.

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