Gaming’s #MeToo Moment: A List of High-Profile Accusations (And What They Mean for the Gaming Industry)

July 21, 2020

The original #MeToo movement created waves throughout the entire film industry. And it all started on October 15, 2017. That was when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

This movement helped the world see that Harvey Weinstein was not the sole predator in Hollywood. Moreover, some of the world’s favorite celebrities had been victims of sexual abuse throughout the years.

Now, gaming is having its own reckoning with the #MeToo movement. As with the original #MeToo movement, this started small and quickly gained momentum. And it is changing the gaming community from the top down.

Gaming’s #MeToo movement

Everything kicked off with a tweet from Destiny 2 streamer @Hollowtide on June 19. He tweeted out the following message. “Everyone memes Lucky but theirs [sic] someone else at the top of the d2 directory who is a a [sic] bigger scum lord and people don’t even know the awful things they’ve done.”

It turns out @Hollowtide was talking about a streamer known by the handles SayNoToRage and Lono. And while HollowTide didn’t offer up a name, the tweet gave many other streamers an opportunity to chime in about their negative experiences with the player in question.

As this gained momentum, more streamers started speaking out against other alleged abusers they have dealt with. Pretty soon, people were dropping allegations about game developers and game journalists as well.

We’ve got a brief look at some of the accused people below and details about the allegations. If you would like to research the larger list of allegations and the accused, check out the online spreadsheet created by the streamer Jessica Richey (better known as JessyQuil).

What it means for the industry

Despite how recent this movement is, it has created some major short-term effects across different gaming sectors. 

Twitch and other streaming platforms have already banned certain players based on these accusations. And as more streamers see serious consequences, other streamers have come forward with allegations against their alleged abusers.

Several high-profile game developers have lost their jobs over these allegations. In some cases, this has reduced the number of clients willing to work with certain publishers.

What will the longterm effects of this be? The best example of this may be the gaming website IGN. 

Several current and former employees made allegations against some of IGN’s previous administrators. But many were quick to point out that the current work environment is much more supportive now that the alleged abusers no longer work for the site.

Now that you know more about the movement, here is a selected list of abusers and the related allegations.

Streamers

SayNoToRage

According to The Verge, Destiny streamer SayNoToRage was accused of sexual harassment by several women. He initially apologized by saying, “the things that I did were unacceptable” before later denying the allegations. He was later banned by Twitch.

Samuel Earney (IAmSp00n)

According to Bloomberg, Twitch streamer Samual Earney (better known as IAmSp00n) was accused of sexual and emotional abuse by his ex-girlfriend.  He seemed to know the accusations were coming because he apologized for unnamed actions that weren’t “proper or appropriate” the previous day. Since then, his Twitch account got closed down and he lost his partnership with Nvidia.

Michael  McMahon (Thinnd) 

Bloomberg also reports that streamer Michael McMahon (better known as Thinnd) has been accused of sexual abuse by a former partner. He denied these allegations, but he got suspended from Facebook while the platform investigated the allegations. Beyond that, he continues to stream on Youtube and has pivoted to a greater presence on Twitter.

Brad Jolly (BlessRNG)

According to CNN, streamer Brad Jolly (better known as BlessRNG) “was accused of grabbing a woman by the waist and pulling her toward his pelvis.” Jolly apologized for his actions and actively encouraged people to “cancel” him. Accordingly, he got banned from Twitch (which also banned his custom emote) and lost a job working for Kanga.

Method Josh

CNN reports that World of Warcraft streamer Method Josh has been accused of predatory behavior, and various streamers and organizations vowed never to work with him again. The eSports organization Method completely ended their relationship with this streamer.

Sascha Steffens

The problems at Method seem to go up to the very top. According to CNN, the co-CEO of the company, Sascha Steffens, got placed on unpaid administrative leave while a third party investigated allegations of sexual misconduct that date back to 2015’s Blizzcon.

Grant Harris (GranDGranT)

The streamer Grant Harris (better known as GranDGranT) previously worked for Evil Geniuses. According to Dot Esports, he got fired after allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women. However, Harris claimed he was planning to leave eSports before he got fired.

Chris Gonzalez (NYChrisG)

Evil Geniuses also fired the streamer Chris Gonzalez (better known as NYChrisG). Kotaku reports that this was because his old racist comments came to light. This included comments about how Black women who played fighting games were “ratchet” and were “only interested in having sex with him personally.”

Game developers

Tommy François

Tommy François is a very high-profile figure, serving as a vice president at Ubisoft. After several accusations of misconduct from multiple accusers, the company launched an investigation into the allegations. François was placed on disciplinary leave in late June.

Maxime Béland 

Maxime Béland was in much the same boat as Tommy François. He also served as an Ubisoft vice president and received multiple accusations of misconduct. In late June, he was placed on leave pending an internal investigation of the accusations, but he resigned on July 6.

RELATED: Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Ubisoft Employees Claim Female Protagonists Were Removed From Assassin’s Creed Games

Ashraf Ismail 

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail rounds out the problems lurking within Ubisoft. According to Polygon, he was accused of “sexual misconduct with fans,” which led to an alleged “extramarital affair.” He has since stepped down from his position with the company to focus on his family.

Chris Avellone 

Arguably, Chris Avellone is the biggest name in this current scandal. He has been a writer and developer of dozens of games, including Fallout: New Vegas, Planescape: Torment, Knights of the Old Republic II, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

According to Polygon, multiple women have accused Avellone of “groping, harassment, and inappropriate behavior.” Developers Electronic Arts and Techland have since cut all ties with Avellone in the wake of these allegations.

Game journalists

Steve Butts

Steve Butts was formerly Editor-in-Chief for IGN who was fired for alleged misconduct. In the recent wave of online allegations, former employees such as Mitch Dyer said that Butts created a hostile work environment and, on at least one occasion, added a false narrative to a story.

Tal Blevins

Dyer and other former IGN employees (including Kallie Plagge) also named Tal Blevins in their allegations. Blevins was a co-founder of IGN, and as Kakuchopurei reports, allegedly intimidated employees and added falsehoods to stories. Via Twitter, Plagge recalled that Blevins refused to let her leave her desk for any reason, eventually making her cry because she couldn’t take so much as a lunch break.

Plagge also noted that various men have shared their stories about being sexually harassed by both Butts and Blevins.

These men no longer work for IGN, but they have started their own gaming consultation agency called Level 74. 

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