Tripwire Interactive, the company behind various hit games such as the Killing Floor series, has found itself in quite a row this week. CEO John Gibson made a rather controversial endorsement of Texas’ new anti-abortion law. Said law criminalizes all abortions after six weeks, in almost all cases. This law also rather cruelly targeted providers and supporters, even offering cash bounties for tips leading to prosecution. To call it draconian is an understatement, to support it openly says a lot about you.
“Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat,” said Gibson. “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,” concluded his statement.
It’s important to note that this law in Texas doesn’t reflect the actual reality of pregnancy at six weeks, a point when the barely developed embryo doesn’t even have a heart to “beat” with. But the draconian law isn’t designed to do anything more than repress women, and Gibson clearly loves it. But it seems to have blown back pretty hard on Tripwire and Gibson.
Reacting to the controversy, both Shipwright Studios and Torn Banner Studios—developers of Maneater and Chivalry II, respectively—condemned the post and have announced plans to move away from working with Tripwire. Tripwire themselves were very quick to act on this issue as well, feeling public pressure. In short, Gibson got fired.
The relevant portion of their statement can be seen below:
“Effective immediately, John Gibson has stepped down as CEO of Tripwire Interactive. Co-founding member and current Vice President, Alan Wilson, will take over as interim CEO … Alan will work with the rest of the Tripwire leadership team to take steps with employees and partners to address their concerns including executing a company-wide town hall meeting and promoting open dialogue with Tripwire leadership and all employees.”
It’s pretty obvious that he was doing this for clout, as the Killing Floor 2 soundtrack includes a song by his personal band with blatant anti-abortion and pro-theocratic lyrics. So this is not new for him in terms of holding these beliefs. He likely just felt emboldened by Texas’ draconian laws. And you can see exactly what we wanted to happen occurring in Gibson’s response tweet.
Many former employees also spoke out about the issue. Gibson allegedly had a “massively inflated sense of self programming skill,” according to one person.
And with him out at the company, it at least appears as though employees won’t have to deal with his nonsense anymore. And companies that pledged not to work with Tripwire while John Gibson was present may not follow through. All in all, probably the best way this could have been handled.