Game Companies Say They’re Supporting Black Lives Matter, But Few Are Offering Specifics

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Game Companies Say They’re Supporting Black Lives Matter, But Few Are Offering Specifics
Photo: David Ryder, Getty Images

As protests over the killing of George Floyd by police spread throughout the country last weekend, some of the gaming industry’s biggest companies put out statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. But while a few have shared some specifics about what they’re doing to help fight systemic racism, almost none of them have spoken more directly about what they plan to do about it.

Corporations weren’t racing to support the Black Lives Matter movement back when it first began after George Zimmeran was acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin. Now eight years later even traditionally risk-averse gaming companies are using the hashtag. “Being silent about the violence and racism Black people experience is being complicit,” Sony wrote on Twitter last Sunday. “But actions always speak louder than words,” the company continued. “And we’re working hard to make sure we at Sony are doing more than just stating we are allies.”

Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police sparked the nationwide protests currently taking place, but it’s only one of the latest widely publicized killings. Just last month Breonna Taylor was shot by the Louisville police while asleep in her home. Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot by an ex-cop and his son in Georgia after they saw him jogging. According to the research and advocacy group Mapping Police Violence, 1,099 people were killed by police in the United States last year, a disproportionate number of whom were black.

Very few gaming companies have come out explicitly against police violence, instead framing their support for Black Lives Matter as part of a more general struggle against racial inequities and injustices. That kind of language can sometimes come off as mealymouthed, but taken on its own terms it also commits them to a broader reckoning with racism, including at their own workplaces, from hiring practices to representation in their games—problems that have persisted across games from Square Enix, Capcom and others for a long time.

Kotaku reached out to a number of the bigger gaming companies who put out statements related to the ongoing protests to ask them for more specifics about what they actually plan to do to enact real and meaningful change. Some declined to comment but have publicly stated they will do things like match employee donations to charities and nonprofits doing work in this space. Others have remained completely silent. Barely anyone was willing to go into more specifics.

Here’s a roundup of what game companies are saying about the current wave of protests and what details about their ongoing actions to help them they were willing to share:

Sony

According to Last of Us II director Neil Druckmann, PlayStation is matching donations to certain racial justice groups, but it doesn’t seem like the company’s announced that publicly.

Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Microsoft directed Kotaku to comments made by the company’s CEO and other members of its leadership team on LinkedIn, as well as its Criminal Justice Reform initiative started back in 2014.

Nintendo

After waiting several days Nintendo released the above statement. It did not respond to a request for comment.

Epic Games

Epic Games has not made any statement and also did not respond to a request for comment.

Valve

Valve has not made any statement and also did not respond to a request for comment.

EA

Last night EA announced that it’s holding meetings with its Black Electronics Arts Team employee resource group to “discuss our path forward as individuals, as a company, and as a community working towards change.” The publisher also announced it’s contributing $US1 ($1) million to organisations like Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defence & Educational Fund. It is also double matching what anyone donates to those or other local organisations through the YourCause program for the month of June.

Other measures include an extra paid day off each year to devote to volunteering, a company-wide holiday on June 19 for service projects outside the company, and a June 9 “community conversation” between the entire company.

EA declined to comment further.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft announced it’s donating $US100,000 ($145,145) to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.

Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment.

Take-Two

Take-Two has not made any statement and also declined to comment.

Activision Blizzard

Activision and Blizzard both did not respond to a request for comment. The hypocrisy of the statement after Blizzard suspended Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for saying “Liberate Hong Kong” in a post-match interview last year was also roundly mocked on Twitter.

Square Enix

Square Enix announced it’s giving $US250,000 ($360,286) and matching employee donations to Black Lives Matter and other charities.

Square Enix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Riot Games

Riot Games announced it would help fund organisations focusing on nationwide criminal justice reform, addressing racial bias, and building up black-owned businesses, through its existing Riot Games Social Impact Fund. It would also match Riot employee donations to qualifying groups up to $US1,000.

Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment.

Warner Bros. Games

Warner Bros. Games did not respond to a request for comment.

Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games has not made any statement and also declined to comment.

Bungie

Bungie announced it will make “financial contributions” and match employee donations to the following groups: blacklivesmatter.com, showingupforracialjustice.org, antiracismcenter.com, eji.org, and colorlines.com.

Bungie did not respond to a request for comment.

Bethesda

Bethesda did not respond to a request for comment.

Capcom

Capcom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Comments

    • Hoping a few of those 13 ‘did not respond to request for comment’ notes can get updated eventually.

  • Corporations weren’t racing to support the Black Lives Matter movement back when it first began after George Zimmeran was acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin. Now eight years later even traditionally risk-averse gaming companies are using the hashtag.
    Hmm, I wonder why that is. Could it be that back then it was viewed as a fringe movement, but now it’s big enough to be considered good to be seen supporting it? Let me repeat that with emphasis – it’s considered good to be seen supporting it.
    If you think this is anything more than a bunch of stuffy old white guy CEOs (the antithesis of BLM) thinking about how best to make their brand seen and therefore more profitable you’re surely mistaken.

    Which makes it funnier when they speak out at all, only to be met with “why aren’t you doing more?” like this article.

    • Yep, empty words and hashtags just become meaningless. Ultimately this is about inequality and large corporations have done more to create that inequality than anything else.

  • Big corporations ‘supporting’ this cause Is nothing more than crass and cynical PR.
    Until I hear in depth details about what they are actually DOING, this is a bunch of hashtags and nothing more.

    • What most of them are doing is expressing their support, which under the circumstances is extremely valuable as certain sections of the community and media would like to paint Black Lives Matter as some sort of fringe Antifa conspiracy.

      But regardless, most of them are also donating actual money to the people best qualified to know how to spend it. That’s not doing nothing either.

        • Umm, gg? The above article is a run on list of what a dozen companies are doing. It’s not some sort of hagiographical thousand word article about how wonderful and altruistic one single obscenely rich bloke is.

          And as I say in my comment above, gestures of support in this instance actually have value given how many blokes such as you are out there spreading shit, unlike say, support for CORVID research which is about as uncontroversial as puppies and sunshine.

          But nice cheap shot mate, hope you read a few of the other posts in my history on the way to digging that up, you might learn something.

          Even if I accept the apparent premise of your comment, which I don’t, it simply makes you look like a right dick as well given how you’ve also tied yourself up in hypocrisy with a bunch of down votes and comments such as this

          https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/06/next-call-of-duty-seasons-delayed-because-now-is-not-the-time/#comment-4086263

          • Read my post again rather than again launching into another cheap shot.

            I’ve not in any way complained about down votes. I’m just using them to interpret your position on the issues being debated. It’s pretty easy to do since you have consistently been down voting one side of the debate and consistently up voting another side of the debate. As a result it’s very easy to identify where you stand.

            I don’t object to you using down and up votes to indicate your support or otherwise in the popularity context, that’s what most people use them for, but it does pretty clearly illustrate the hypocrisy of you calling me out for allegedly taking two sides of the issue that you yourself have apparently backflipped on.

            But seriously, feel free to keep taking your cheap shots in this forum, everyone else moved on some time ago.

          • My views are the same,

            A message of support either by the company or the CEO on social media is meaningless virtue signalling. Its purpose is only to generate PR for them. Its calculated risk for them.

            As demonstrated by Bethesda this week showing their support for LGBTIQ+ on all account other than middle eastern ones. Same with Disney pledging support for BLM but on the same hand Remove Boyega from front and centre on the star wars poster in China.

            If however, the company donates money, (Even if its towards a charity i don’t support) i won’t hold anything against them because they are actually doing something.

          • And don’t forget the hypocrisy of Acti-Blizzard saying they stand against injustice.

            Seems like people forgot just last year they came down hard on someone fighting for equality in Hong Kong with Blitzchung.

          • I was going to let you have the last word here, which you are welcome to if you want to continue, but without attempting to address everything in your last posts I will say this.

            You and your fellow travellers continuously allege that support for social justice is just a cynical marketing exercise, while proving time and again that it in fact does have an actual cost with your hysterical hyperventilation and pile-ons.

            For whatever it’s worth, in so far as opinion polling at least is concerned, most social justice issues such as black lives matter are highly polarising, with something like a 40/40 community opinion split, while 20% don’t care one way or another.

            You can’t have it both ways. You can’t argue both that support for social justice is a cynical marketing exercise costing a company nothing while also spouting rubbish such as “get woke, go broke”.

            Supporting progressive causes is either cost-free, in which case you guys are such a small minority that your opinion is either meaningless or is vastly outweighed by an invisible army of fat black lesbians, or supporting human rights and social justice does come at an actual cost to a company in terms of goodwill and sales.

          • And to reemphasise, you really would come across as having a hell of a lot more credibility if your cheap pot shots showed even a skerrick of evidence that you had actually read the posts you keep riffing off.

  • Interesting. I actually wasn’t aware of BLM spawning specifically out of the Trayvon Martin case. As a barrister who practices exclusively in criminal law I followed the trial itself very closely and actually thought the verdict was reasonable in the circumstances. Unlike say the Rodney King or Kelly Thomas acquittals, or the cover up charges in Laquan McDonald…

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