Shipwright Studios, the co-developer behind Maneater as well as a number of other titles, announced that it is cutting ties and canceling all contracts with publisher Tripwire Interactive after the latter’s president, John Gibson, recently posted comments on Twitter supporting recent anti-abortion legislation in Texas. Specifically, the studio criticized the president for involving his partners and employees in the matter by making the comments public.
For context, the US Supreme Court recently failed to rule on a controversial Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Worse yet, the ban allows private citizens to also file civil suits against people who violate the law, effectively creating “bounties” against anyone involved. Furthermore, the law also goes against Roe v. Wade, a previous Supreme Court case that ruled in favor of women’s liberty to have an abortion.
On September 5, 2021, John Gibson posted on Twitter that he was “Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat,” stating that he “felt it was important to go on the record as a pro-life game developer” after seeing so many vocal peers oppose the law.
Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat. As an entertainer I don’t get political often. Yet with so many vocal peers on the other side of this issue, I felt it was important to go on the record as a pro-life game developer.
— John Gibson (@RammJaeger) September 4, 2021
Obvious mistruths aside (the Supreme Court didn’t “affirm” the law, and simply did not rule on it in time), Gibson’s comments sparked controversy within the video game industry. God of War director Cory Balrog expressed disbelief at Gibson’s opinions, asking how anyone could “be proud of claiming dominion over a woman’s personal freedoms.”
jesus fuck, man. really? you are all about this fucked texas bounty law that pushes us closer to some kind of Gilead dystopian religious state?
I mean what the fuck, man. seriously, how can anyone be proud of claiming dominion over a woman’s personal freedoms?
— cory barlog (@corybarlog) September 5, 2021
The controversial statement led Shipwright Studios to make a public announcement on Twitter—as a reply to Gibson’s own tweet, no less—condemning Gibson’s public comments. Below are a few segments from the studio’s announcement:
While your politics are your own, the moment you make them a matter of public discourse you entangle all of those working for and with you … We know it is difficult for employees to speak up or act out in these scenarios, and they may not feel comfortable to speak their minds. It is regrettable, but we feel it would be doing ourselves, your employees, your partners, and the industry as a whole a disservice to allow this pattern to continue without comment.
We started Shipwright with the idea that it was finally time to put our money where our mouth is. We cannot in good conscience continue to work with Tripwire under the current leadership structure.
“We will begin the cancellation of our existing contracts effective immediately,” the post concludes.
Similarly, Torn Banner Studios—the dev team behind another Tripwire Interactive property, Chivalry II — also issued a statement where it clarified that Gibson’s opinions stood “in opposition to what [they] believe about women’s rights.”
[Source: Twitter via Gamesindustry]