Someone just got fired from Nintendo of America. Normally your average firing doesn’t warrant headline news, but this one has been reported everywhere, and for this reason: the exiting employee is Alison Rapp, formerly of Nintendo’s localization unit The Treehouse.
Recently potentially offensive content has been cut from the US localizations of certain Nintendo games. All examples involve squicky acts of fetishization such as petting female bodies with the 3DS stylus — generally, stuff that looks creepy outside of Japan (and in some cases inside). Looking for a scapegoat, the malicious online movement known as Gamergate found Rapp and accused her of instigating the cuts, then proceeded to do what they do and contact everyone they could within Nintendo to file complaints against Rapp.
Now that Rapp really has been fired, Gamergate is claiming it as a victory, and the media is appropriately outraged. Nintendo of America eventually responded to the accusations. While they admit they fired Rapp, they vehemently deny it was because of anything Gamergate did or said. “Alison Rapp was terminated due to violation of an internal company policy involving holding a second job in conflict with Nintendo’s corporate culture,” Nintendo said to Polygon.
“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.”
Rapp, however, absolutely believes her termination was a result of Gamergate’s efforts. She freely admits to sneaking in the second job to pay off student loans, but claims Nintendo wouldn’t have found out about it if a Gamergater hadn’t alerted them to it. This makes the case hard to judge, as it validates both sides of the argument: Rapp willingly violated company policy, but the company’s knowledge of the act came directly from Gamergate. Technically the trolls DID play somewhat of a role, but she supplied the weapon.
Even if the breach of her contact was a mistake, Rapp still finds the circumstances chilling. “The amount of obsession it must take to dig up old tweets, find addresses, link me to anon things not related to games is … not normal for a professional industry.”