Otaku Corner: Women’s health and video games

Insensitivity knows no boundaries when it comes to women’s reproductive health

Editor’s note: Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022.

On May 2, political news website Politico obtained and released a 98-page draft document indicating that the U.S Supreme Court was considering reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizes abortion for women. During that time, major game studios Microsoft, Bungie and Double Fine took strong stances supporting abortion via pro-choice statements, providing financial support to affected employees and abortion rights groups and allowing employees to join protests opposing reversal of Roe v. Wade. There was a gaming company that attempted to take a neutral position on the issue; however, their strategy ended in EPIC FAILURE. Sony Interactive Entertainment, I’m looking at you.

On May 12, SIE President Jim Ryan sent out a company-wide e-mail, which was obtained by business news website Bloomberg, regarding the leaked decision. Taking a neutral stance, Ryan stated that employees should “respect differences of opinion” and “Sony is multifaceted and diverse holding many points of view” and concluded by stating “we owe it to ourselves and PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences.” Ryan then continued to talk about his two cats’ birthdays and plans to obtain a dog as a neutral method to reduce employee anger and sadness. This resulted in employees demanding clarity from Ryan and forced Sony and its subsidiary Insomniac Games to donate $100,000 to a pro-reproductive rights organization and develop an assistance program for employee who would need stated care, according to an internal e-mail obtained by the Washington Post.

When the Post asked for comments, neither company made any statements and forbade employees from speaking or sharing announcements from the benefited organization. As a gamer and consumer, I believe that Sony has chosen the wrong side in this debate. I respect that Sony and its affiliated companies have acted to assist in times of turmoil, but this issue of Roe v. Wade was an opportunity for Sony to fight for human rights and tell gamers that if women’s health care rights diminish in the U.S., there will be NOTHING to stop concerned citizens TM from telling others in a democratic society how to live. That would result in taking away content in video games, what we could see and read in anime and manga and other media, and how to think on various issues.

I appreciate Insomniac CEO Ted Price’s opinion that SIE must be firm on employees expressing concerns on abortion to do more virtuous deeds in the corporate world; however, my wife and millions of American women deserve the right to a say in their reproductive health choices, period. I applaud Microsoft, Bungie, Double Fine and other companies that are taking barrages of shade and hate by their “fan/consumer base” on this issue. Their responses are making me think more of becoming a regular customer of companies that care about honesty and doing what is right instead of the usual “virtue-signaling” for cash.

Readers, Gaming Insurrection will always cover the greatest in geek culture, tech, and retro gaming. However, when issues such as abortion hit our corner of the world, we will cover them to inform and empower you. If you want to know more about how to protect Roe v Wade from disappearing check out this link: https://www.bungie.net/en/Explore/Detail/News/51315 to find about the list of organizations spotlighted. Also, get out and vote for candidates who will fight to protect Roe v. Wade. I will close out this column with advice for Mr. Ryan and Mr. Price: 1. Women gamers are on the rise and make up 41 percent of gamers in the U.S. 2. They are watching what you say and do on abortion and other issues that affect them. 3. Act and choose wisely; it will determine how your companies will prosper in the future. 4. Do better.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

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