John Gibson, the CEO of the video game publisher responsible for the titles Chivalry and Killing Floor, is out of a job after he publicly voiced his pro-life views in the wake of Texas’ so-called “Heartbeat bill,” which makes it illegal to surgically abort a fetus once cardiac activity is detected in the fetus.
Posting on Twitter, the Tripwire Interactive boss wrote that he was “proud of the [United States Supreme Court] affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat.”
Gibson stated that the reason he was speaking out on the issue was because of how vocal pro-choice supporters are in vocalizing their political views on social media. Indeed, many major entertainment companies and video game publishers have publicly weighed in on political topics – always in support of liberal policies, seldom against.
“As an entertainer I don’t get political often,” added Gibson. “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.”
Gibson’s remarks sparked a vocal outcry from both game developers and game journalists alike, triggering more than 10,000 comments and 6,000 retweets, with many vowing to boycott Tripwire’s video games.
One of the studios whose titles have been published by Tripwire, Shipwright Studios, publicly announced their parting of ways with the publisher over Gibson’s remarks.
“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 have worked closely alongside the talented and passionate developers at Tripwire and your partners for the last 3+ years,” the studio wrote.
“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,” continued Shipwright without any apparent irony. “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,” concluded Shipwright Studios.
“We do not share the opinion expressed in a recent tweet by the president of Tripwire, publisher of Chivalry 2,” remarked Torn Banner Studios, another studio whose titles are published by Tripwire. “This perspective is not shared by our team, nor is it reflected in the games we create. The statement stands in opposition to what we believe about women’s rights.”
On Monday evening, Tripwire Interactive released a statement to say that Gibson was out of the company effective immediately because of his comments, claiming that the CEO had “stepped down.”
“The comments given by John Gibson are of his own opinion, and do not reflect those of Tripwire Interactive as a company,” the company said. “His comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community. Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment.”
“Effective immediately, John Gibson has stepped down as CEO of Tripwire Interactive,” the statement added. “Co-founding member and current Vice President, Alan Wilson, will take over as interim CEO. Alan has been with the company since its formation in 2005 and is an active lead in both the studio’s business and developmental affairs. 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. His understanding of both the company’s culture and the creative vision of our games will carry the team through this transition, with full support from the other Tripwire leaders.”