Ubisoft To Remove Controversial Host From Watch Dogs: Legion’s Podcasts

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Ubisoft To Remove Controversial Host From Watch Dogs: Legion’s Podcasts
Image: Ubisoft

Ubisoft will replace two of Watch Dogs: Legion’s in-game podcasts in which British journalist Helen Lewis appears, after becoming “aware” of offensive remarks she’s made in the past about gender identity.

“We were made aware of controversial remarks from a journalist whose voice-over performance appears in two in-game podcasts in Watch Dogs: Legion,” a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku in an email. “Neither Ubisoft nor the game reflect this journalist’s viewpoints.”

The publisher went on:

“The development team worked with an external producer to select speaker profiles for these podcasts and were not aware of the controversy at the time of booking or recording. While the in-game podcasters are following a pre-approved script and are not speaking in their own name or with their own opinions, we understand this collaboration itself may be seen as offensive and we deeply regret any hurt this has caused. In response, we will be replacing these two podcast episodes in an upcoming update and will reinforce our background checks for partners in the future.”

Lewis, a London-based staff writer for The Atlantic, formerly of the New Statesman, appears in two episodes of Watch Dogs: Legion’s BuccanEar podcast that players can listen to while driving around England’s capital city or via the game’s collectibles menu. The character which Lewis voices, named simply “Helen,” discusses the creeping threat of facism in the game’s world and how it’s worked in the past as a political ideology.

While the game’s podcasts, including those featuring Lewis, have been lauded for their writing, including by Kotaku, Lewis’ involvement in them has been criticised on Twitter and the gaming forum ResetEra after people began to connect the voice in the game with the journalist behind statements and positions many regard as transphobic.

In 2017, Lewis published an op-ed for The Times called “A man can’t just say he has turned into a woman,” in which the writer was critical of new legislation being proposed in the UK to make transitioning easier. “What the government proposes is a radical rewriting of our understanding of identity: Now it’s a question of an internal essence — a soul, if you will,” Lewis wrote. “Being a woman or a man is now entirely in your head.”

Statements like this have led many to regard Lewis, a leftist feminist who claims to support trans rights, as a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). In an article for the New Statesman last year, Lewis likened TERF to a racial slur and argued that it’s used by some as a mask for a new wave of Gamergate-like misogyny toward women. She did not immediately reply to a request for comment for this article.

Lewis’ involvement in Watch Dogs: Legion is particularly notable since the game’s story revolves around a diverse and inclusive community of hackers fighting to liberate itself from an abusive police state. It also comes at a time when Ubisoft has been at the centre of a wave of allegations of misconduct and toxic working conditions which run counter to the company’s stated values of equality and inclusion.

Comments

    • Where professional victims can come together to practice their mental gymnastics and earn pats on the head for falling into line.

    • Exactly mate – it looks to me like she was exploring the changes being proposed at the time and what those might mean in different contexts. Seems like she was playing devils advocate to me.

      • Many people who say shitty things love to hide behind “devils advocate”.
        This is just as bullshit as “it was only a joke”

        • Journalists are obligated to give both sides in an attempt to be unbiased and that’s how the industry’s been for decades so they maintain reporting access. If you want a blogger with no professional standards who is biased to one side, then go read a blog. I don’t see why journalism has to take a hit to its standards because people ignorant of the field have hurt feelings on an industry they know nothing about.

  • Oh wow. That’s just……wow.

    If someone has an opinion that doesn’t gel with yours, that’s not offensive. That’s just being human.

    It becomes offensive if the person sets out to intentionally cause harm or hurt to a person or group of persons, and uses that difference of opinion to drive that hurt. It doesn’t seem like this person is doing that, it seems like she was asking the hard questions about a reform that a lot of people were too scared to ask.

    And who the hell gets to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t be comfortable with anyway? I’m personally okay with MOST of what’s going on in the ‘trans’ space, but not all – maybe I’ll learn to accept the full gamut of definitions, maybe I won’t – but damned if I’ll change an opinion because some knee-jerk armchair activists silenced opinion through cancel culture. If you set up an adversarial relationship, you are far, far less likely to bring about deep long lasting change.

    • “It becomes offensive if the person sets out to intentionally cause harm or hurt to a person or group of persons, and uses that difference of opinion to drive that hurt.”

      Yet that is exactly what she did. Dismissing someones notion of identity simply because she didnt agree with its concept, how is that not causing harm to a group?! She is all but saying ‘its all in their head’.

      • Er…..no? That’s not causing harm. That’s her opinion. I see no intention to cause harm in the words she says, she’s not kicking down doors and blasting people with her thoughts.

        See, what you do is this – if someone has a different enough opinion to you that you can’t stand it, it causes you hurt etc etc, then guess what? You don’t associate with them. Either you stop being friends, you stop listening to their podcast, stop reading their articles – WHATEVER. You haven’t been wronged just because you think they’re wrong.

        Cultural shifts like this are won through patience and perseverance, and calm rational discussion. Not through temper-tantrum cancel culture. Take the time to learn how the human mind works, and how hard it is to shift deep-seated beliefs and values – and then understand why it takes so long and why this aggressive “I’m offended!” approach is actually doing these causes much more harm than good.

      • Actually taking a look at some of her opinions, you’d probably realise she’s got no issue with trans people… But she really just doesn’t agree with people simply being able to go around and claim they’re whatever they want on a whim, mainly because it opens up to letting people exploit situations for fucked up things.

        That’s not even about trans people at all. It’s actually just about creepy fucks who take advantage of whatever they can to do fucked up things to other people.

        Kind of like how some people only take advantage of bits and pieces of what people say, because if they took it all in its entire context they wouldn’t be able to lose their goddamn minds about it without reasonable people going, ‘What the fuck are you on about?’

        • I guarantee most of the people angry at her don’t even know what her comments were about nor the legislation she was debating.

          • You clearly ignored this part: “That’s not even about trans people at all. It’s actually just about creepy fucks who take advantage of whatever they can to do fucked up things to other people.”

            You are the epitome of the last paragraph of his comment: “Kind of like how some people only take advantage of bits and pieces of what people say, because if they took it all in its entire context they wouldn’t be able to lose their goddamn minds about it without reasonable people going, ‘What the fuck are you on about?’”

          • And Helen lewis wasn’t claiming that at all in her article. Have you actually read her original article? Better yet do you even know the legislation she was against entails?

            You are bringing in claims that were never made in some vain attempt to take her down for wrongthink.

        • @jagji – did you seriously just use the women’s prison fallacy? Even if this happened once these kind of cases are so rare as to be negligible. Using this as evidence is not only offensive but highly irresponsible.
          Are you going to tell us next that trans women are going to use public toilet access to abuse children? What the actual hell….

          • “DONT USE FACTS I DONT LIKE BECAUSE I DEEM IT IRRESPONSIBLE! I DONT WANT TO READ WHAT WAS ACTUALLY SAID, I WANT TO HAVE A GO AT WHITE MEN ON KOTAKU AND WILL CHANGE THE TOPIC BECAUSE I DONT WANT TO READ THEM BECAUSE I DIDNT LIKE SOMEONE BROUGHT UP SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED REEEEEEEEEEEEEE”

      • Intent is everything.

        Is the first thing out of *your* mouth when meeting someone “what are your pronouns?”

        If not, you’re a transphobe. Not because you “intended” to be, but because you’ve used your own bias to subconsciously place a pronoun on them using traditional indicators.

        That’s your logic. It’s stupid.

        • Sometimes I absolutely ask about pronouns. It wouldn’t be the first thing I ask but if I can’t work that out I will ask so I’m not making that person uncomfortable.

          • “but if I can’t work that out”

            Work out their gender? How would you work out their gender unless they tell you the pronouns to use? Or their gender, plus what pronouns to use? Remember NB can still go by she/he pronouns.

            Unless of course you mean by using societal norms and your own biases to determine such things.. what a horrible person you are

          • I have a radical solution. How about you treat them like human beings and use their name, which you will learn within the first 5 seconds of meeting them?

        • I never once used the term transphobe. Don’t put words in my mouth.
          Your argument is churlish at best. Hiding behind intent is a bullshit excuse for saying awful things and people harness this logic to do exactly that.
          If someone was innocently using an incorrect pronoun it’s entirely different from saying ignorant things like “he’s decided to be a woman and cut his penis off” which is clearly and deliberately framed to mock trans folk.

          • Where did I say that you said that?

            But let’s be honest here, if it quacks like a duck and it looks like a duck.. Well it’s a duck.

            “Hiding behind intent is a bullshit excuse for saying awful things and people harness this logic to do exactly that.” If that’s the case, then the intent of that person was to cause harm

            “If someone was innocently using an incorrect pronoun…” How do YOU determine that? How do YOU determine a person’s intent? You have just said, multiple times, that intent is meaningless (from a previous comment: “‘Intent’ is not an excuse for ignorance.”), so there is no such thing as “innocently using an incorrect pronoun.” That’s YOUR logic, that’s what YOU’RE saying, and you can’t even keep it straight.

            What is it with you and your ilk being so afraid of intent and context? I mean… I know why you lot shun such things.. but do you?

            Offensive is ALWAYS taken, not always given. Remember that. Stop trying to skew things to how YOU want things to appear, so that you can have an excuse to always be angry, and a dick to people. I suggest you take a good hard look in the mirror, and find a therapist to work out those issues.

          • All you’ve done with basically every comment you’ve made is put words in other people’s mouths.

            Turnabout is a bitch like that.

  • >Didn’t make remarks about gender in game
    >Wasn’t playing herself in game
    >Would likely go unrecognised in game
    You’d literally have to go out of your way to be bothered by this woman’s inclusion.
    Another case of people being unable to separate art from artist.

  • Well I can only assume some totally reasonable and not at all professional victim types took, “Being a woman or a man is now entirely in your head.” entirely out of the context it was being discussed in and what it was referring to, and instead ran around talking about how this woman thinks trans people are crazy or some shit.

  • I’m really impressed that you guys can come together in defence of a feminist.
    Granted, it’s because you want to excuse her transphobia, but hey, it’s not like you sweaty creeps can resist an opportunity to punch down.

    • Articles like this just wouldn’t be the same without you jumping through hoops in order to call everyone racist, sexist, transphobic, or basically just whatever suits you at the time really.

      Never change, bud.

    • I think (might be wrong) that they were defending her right to have an opinion, not necessarily caring that she was or wasn’t transphobic.

      • I’m going to go ahead and say yes, you are correct. But worrito knows everything about everyone and he will tell you that you are wrong.

    • Agreed. The people here who attack female journalists on a regular basis are the same people who are telling trans people when they should be offended. Arrogant, hypocritical nonsense. Willing to bet they are all men. The type of gamers who have little life experience beyond their cis-gendered bubble.

      • The author of this article is male.
        We are defending a Female journalist.

        I don’t debate authors articles based on their skin color, Identity or race. Thats what smoothbrain idiots do. I criticize on the points they make.

        You fall back on accusing people of being various ism’s because you cannot counter the points we make, You just fall back on calling people ism’s as an easy way out.

      • Refresh my memory. Name any instance where a female journalist has been attacked here not for the merit of their writing but for their gender. I don’t believe that’s happened.

        • “But you were only pretending to attack them on their merit as you secretly hate them just because they’re female! And not at all because they wrote a batshit insane article that made no sense and had absolutely nothing to do with the game in the article headline.”

          Well, you know how it goes, something along those lines is how the crazies love to refute the merit argument anyway.

          • I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
            I think it’s telling enough that he’s visited the page multiple times since and hasn’t replied.

  • Opinions work both ways, most of the links in this article aren’t calling for her to be removed from anything, just highlighting the hypocrisy of having a transphobe as a “defender of freedom”. The fact Ubisoft removed her is capitalism at work, corporations will do anything to make a buck and they obviously thought the interest in this meant removing her was a safer bet. Don’t like? The don’t blame the people expressing opinions different to yours, blame Ubisoft.

    • Very true! And really, ‘Legion’ is an incredibly one dimensional game when it comes to it’s politics. It’s comes across as a parody of the band-wagon jumping militant far-left groups that are running around today, but then you realise they’re being serious.

      I mean, I’m having fun with it, but damn it’s rough around the edges. That voice acting is so bad….I suspect any proper VA artists looked at the scripted lines and politely declined the job. Everyone sounds like a reject from a Guy Ritchie film.

  • Is it really phobic what was said?

    Does she have an innate fear of Trans people? Or did she just not agree with the idea/sentiment?

    Such a strong word and for a world where we don’t want to label anyone, whenever there is someone that doesn’t agree with some aspect of LGBTQ+, name calling and a word is made up for them.

    “You have to agree for what I say or stand for, or I’ll label and ruin you”

    That’s kind of what we are accepting.

    I don’t understand trans people but I’m fine with that. At the end of the day, if they were in harms way, I’d do everything in my ability to protect them.

  • I’m willing to bet exactly zero of these commenters who are defending Helen are trans or gender fluid. By all means state your clearly heteronormative and one sided opinions but don’t pretend you understand what it’s like to struggle with gender identity and make assumptions about what is and isn’t offensive. When you are vilified by people for no reason other than “devils advocate” or straight up hatred or some other bullshit proxy reason, I’ll listen to you.

  • It’s fucking nauseating when straight people pontificate about issues they don’t understand and claim people are “professional victims” or “snowflakes” for taking issue with other straight people telling entire sections of the population that their identity is invalid or incorrect.

    Trans people have been vilified for decades and this podcaster is simply reenforcing ignorant opinions held by by people who either don’t know what the fuck they are talking about or are deliberately agitating in order to get attention for themselves.

    • Hey @Alex, pretty sure this comment (and literally every other one of his) doesn’t exactly add to the environment you wanted and complained about in a previous article.

      Looking forward to it getting deleted

        • Lol. Right on, Bucko *thumbs up*

          Have a sook some more.

          Literally the people in these comments: “have your opinion, say what you want, disagree with me”

          You: “DON’T SAY THINGS I DON’T LIKE”

    • Please point to where Helen Lewis said all trans people identities are invalid. Provide exact documented evidence where she said such a thing.

      I know plenty about the struggle trans people go through as I’m friends with many and close friends with several. They just don’t subscribe to the circular groupthink logic you subscribe to.

      No doubt if I name some of them you would call them crypto fascist transphobes.

      Get over yourself.

      • I never said she said that. I said ignorance from people like that contributes to a wider culture of fear and hatred or misunderstanding.
        She knows exactly what she’s doing. It’s deliberate.
        Just like comments in this thread mocking a particular kotaku user.

        • Her comments are not too different from those of JK Rowling. Suggesting that men ‘decide’ to become women by chopping their penises off. It’s offensive to the extreme whether she means it like that or not.

    • “opinions”

      You are literally telling other people their opinions shouldn’t be expressed/allowed, whilst only supporting ones you agree with

  • The gaming community is filled to the brim with toxic men who attack anything which doesn’t fit their world view.
    We see it every time a woman dares to write an article which references feminism or social issues.
    We see it every time anyone takes issue with homophobic or transphobic rhetoric.
    We see it every time a journalist mentions politics.
    It’s ALMOST ALWAYS framed as an argument about something else. A convenient proxy reason for crappy behaviour.
    You’d have to be delusional not to see a pattern of disaffected, maladjusted, mostly straight white men trying to tell everyone else how/why/when they should be offended regarding issues they have no practical understanding of.
    Or just being disgusting pigs.
    Makes me ashamed to be a gamer.

    • The gaming community is also filled to the brim with people like you who think facts don’t matter and that their personal feelings should trump everything, even at the expense of other people. Far too many games ‘journalists’ are a fucking beacon of proof of this also.

      But you… As long someone agrees with you, they’re fine. But the moment they dare have an opinion that differs even slightly you turn on them immediately like a rabid animal. You throw every label under the sun at them in an effort to discredit them purely by labeling them and hoping it sticks. Because you don’t have any ACTUAL proof of anything, you just have yelling “Transphobe!” or “Sexist!” or whatever over and over and over until it drowns everything else out.

      People like you are the most deceitful, disloyal, conniving individuals on the planet. It’s actually quite perverse.

  • This is an example of what they mean when people talk about digital footprints. What you say or do when you were young and immature can come back to bite you later.

  • Kotaku comments are always the same 4 or 5 men who love to be a arbiters of all that is ‘true’ and ‘just’ in their myopic worlds. I feel sorry for you all.
    I may be militant but I’m providing a viewpoint that the mostly straight white audience here don’t have any practical understanding of. Y’know, in the real world. Not behind a keyboard.
    Quite frankly the time to be moderate about peoples ignorant or bigoted comments is well and truly over in 2020.

    • Awww, you feel sorry for us, We dont think about you at all.
      The only world you are in is twitter world where context be damned and ignoring the facts about the world/science because you dont like em.
      Stick to reeeeeeeeeeeset era.

  • In case anyone wants to know what exactly Helen Lewis said.

    “Being a woman or a man is now entirely in your head. In this climate, who would challenge someone with a beard exposing their penis in a women’s changing room?”

    This is an utterly bullshit fallacy which paints trans people as creeps and sexual deviants. No trans person is going to whip out a penis in a toilet or change room, it would only contribute to their feelings of insecurity and fear of being harassed.

    This kind of attitude is exactly the same as saying trans women in prisons will commit sexual assault or that gay men are more likely to molest children.

    It contributes to a climate of harassment and fear mongering surrounding queer folks and this shit needs to stop.

    This whole attitude is based on conjecture and is the sort of fear mongering garbage that is printed on the cover of the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail.
    It’s the same BS that is trotted out by right wing politicians over and over again which further marginalises non-binary, trans and queer people. There is zero evidence these situations happen.

    It is no better than saying all Islamists are terrorists because some crazies behead people and blow stuff up.

    Trying to argue intent in this situation is churlish as fuck. She’s parroting some cliched and rote ‘fears’ that have been around for decades and have no basis in reality. One trans person went to a women’s prison and committed sexual assault? And?
    A straight man raped a child in a dance studio in Australia recently. In the women’s toilets. So should we be posing questions asking if all straight men are child molesters?

    • You really hate context don’t you…

      Allow me to copy and paste the opening few sentences of that article, so as to add context, I’d read the whole article, but I’m the sort of person that would forget that I signed up for a 1 month trial, until I was charged 4 times afterwards… But here is the opening few sentences.

      “Transgender people face discrimination at work, casual abuse on the street and long waits for NHS care. None of those problems will be addressed by the government’s plan to change gender reassignment to a matter of simple declaration.”

      That’s all the context right there. She’s not saying anything transphobic. She’s stating that the issues facing trans people aren’t going to be fixed by legislating that “one can just declare they are X or Y or whatever”.

      She is not demonising trans people at all, she is demonising the sick and twisted individuals that would wholeheartedly take advantage of such legislation. (Who are not, in fact trans).

      The example you brought up about the man raping a child in the women’s toilets of a dance studio. If people were around, or saw him going into the toilet (I don’t know the details of this case, but humour me), the right thing to do would question the reason as to why that man is going into a woman’s toilet in the first place. Helen Lewis is stating that the legislation being put forward would, instead of helping to protect that child from a predator, would in fact help the predator, because he could just turn around and say, beard and all, “I’m a woman” and you legally would not be allowed to question that. That legislature is dangerous because sick individuals would use it to benefit them, all the while it would most definitely NOT help the trans community one iota.

      Context is important, so is intent. You’ve bypassed all of it to put your own, very ignorant and very incorrect, spin on it.

      Helen Lewis continues, still in the small snippet my cheap ass can read.

      “It’s hard not to see Justine Greening’s proposal for “self-identification” of gender as a few rainbow sprinkles from a government that is struggling to pass any substantial legislation (for the trans community)”

      Her words are very clear, it is not anti-trans, it is in fact, very critical of the government (in this case Greening’s) ability to actually help the trans community in any meaningful way.

      And yes, gender identity is a “state of mind”, sex is biological, gender is psychological.

      Also, you keep going on about “straight men” hating on “trans people” throughout this entire comment section… You do realise that sexual orientation and gender identity are two very distinctly different things? Perhaps, you mean “cis-men” that would be more in line with what you are trying to say.

      Get a clue

      • Give me a break. The language used suggests a possible systemic issue with people taking advantage of the legislation to be creeps and there has never been any meaningful evidence that these events take place.
        Again these are largely hypothetical situations which are created by people who want to push fear instead of progress.
        Ideas which have been used again and again to suggest there is a problem where one doesn’t exist and never has.
        You love to talk about how intent and context matter yet you choose to ignore the language used which is hyperbolic and visceral in a way which sells papers and gets people like Helen the attention they so desperately want. Deliberate use of such language which points to intent to agitate rather than have any kind of meaningful discourse.
        These stories about creeps pretending to be trans and entering bathrooms have a thousand permutations which go back generations. They are akin to folk tales at this point and Helen is well aware of this. So no intent to harm? Utter bullshit. Unless she claims to be completely ignorant of such tales in which case she’s a moron. Which I don’t think is true.

        • Failing to see the point as per usual. Failing to see the context, as per usual. Failing to actually read what people write, as per usual.

          /sigh.

          Die mad arnna, you are doing your best to make sure that happens. Going so far as to invent things just to give you a reason to be a shitty person.

          • Yeah ok mate, I’m a shitty person because I’m not gonna sit back and let a bunch of cis people hide behind semantics so they can push their special brand of alt-right rhetoric while simultaneously trying really hard to appear ‘woke’ enough not to appear as bigots.
            At least I have a clear position. I’m done with cowards like you.
            Enjoy the circle-jerk.

          • Lol… “Clear position”. What’s that position? “Anything I think is correct, and I can’t possibly ever be wrong.”

            Calling me a coward is rich considering you are the one advocating to silence opinions you don’t like, and are clearly happy to destroy people’s careers because you don’t like what they have to say. You’re the coward.

            You’re the one filled with hate. The utter vitriol each and every one of your comments oozes, is proof enough of that.

      • I never once said or implied that cis (or straight) men hate trans people. And yes I know the difference so thanks for the condescension buddy. I said that a bunch of cis men jerking each other off in an echo chamber is not representative of the values or opinions of the wider queer community.

      • The wider push against flowery legislation is a different issue entirely. I don’t agree with doing things half assed.
        My whole point has been about using hysterical conjecture and strong language to conflate sexual abuse and trans rights.

  • Ubisoft hires shitty transphobe and then decides they care after the bad publicity about all their rapists comes out.

    They can both fuck off.

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