By Barbara Kollmeyer
Facing backlash over a supportive tweet by its chief executive officer for a controversial Texas abortion law, U.S. videogame developer Tripwire Interactive said he’s stepped down.
“The comments given by John Gibson are of his own opinion, and do not reflect those of Tripwire Interactive as a company. 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,” said the company in a statement on Twitter late Monday.
Gibson, the chief executive officer and co-owner of Tripwire, faced angry backlash from videogame players as well as other companies that worked with the developer after he tweeted on Sunday from his personal account a view that was supportive of a strict Texas abortion law that passed last week.
Under those rules, abortions in Texas are limited to around six weeks from conception, and also deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion following that gestation period.
“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,” he said.
Shipwright Studios, a gaming developer that has worked with Tripwire, tweeted shortly after Gibson’s comment that it would no longer do business with the company that publishes such games as “Killing Floor 2” and “Maneater.” That’s as many gamers pledged to never buy another game Tripwire again. Shipwright retweeted Tripwire’s fresh tweet announcing Gibson’s exit.
The company said co-founding member and current Vice President Alan Wilson will take over as interim CEO and “work with the rest of the Tripwire leadership team to take steps with employees and partners to address their concern including executing a company-wide town hall meeting and promoting open dialogue with Tripwire leadership and all employees.”
The move was applauded by some on social media.
But others said there was a free-speech argument at stake. Gibson’s comments come as many companies have stayed silent about Texas’s controversial rulings. accusations of turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and bias for years amid a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
And still others noted that Tripwire has reacted fast compared to Activision Blizzard /zigman2/quotes/200717283/composite ATVI +0.38% , which has faced accusations of ignoring sexual harassment and bias for years amid a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick and other executives last month acknowledged problems and said they are putting measures to make the company safer.