After recently leaked documents signaled the United States Supreme Court’s plans to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade from 1973 this summer, a number of game publishers and developers spoke out in support of reproductive rights. However, Electronic Arts may not be joining the chorus.
According to a report by Kotaku, EA held a meeting at the company’s town hall on May 24 to address the matter, telling employees that Electronic Arts is an “inclusive company” and therefore must include all viewpoints. about reproductive and transgender issues. rights. While many employees expressed outrage and a deep desire for their employer to openly support the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community, EA People Director Mala Singh stated, “These things are difficult and personal and we all have it. our own perspectives. and sometimes we’re not going to talk, and that’s going to be upsetting and I understand that, we really do.”
Singh went on to explain that EA only talks about social issues when it “really will have a positive impact”. This statement left employees and players frustrated, as many cannot see how speaking out in support of reproductive and transgender rights would not have a positive impact.
Many have pointed to the fact that EA publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, with the popular game publisher even donating $1 million to organizations fighting racial injustice. In March, EA joined forces with 64 other companies – from Apple to Gearbox – to sponsor an ad in the Dallas Morning News that condemned the anti-trans legislation in Texas, though EA never spoke publicly about the announcement on any platform. Electronic Arts also tweeted in support of Ukraine, condemning the invasion of Russia and calling for an end to Russian violence against Ukrainian civilians. EA even banned Russian and Belarusian teams from all EA esports competitions – most notably the Apex Legends Global Series and the EA Sports FIFA 22 Global Series.
EA confirmed to Kotaku that it is currently looking at ways to follow Microsoft’s lead and provide out-of-state travel to all employees in need of an abortion who live in a state where doing so is illegal.
EA is also providing its employees with another form of support, which the company calls “healing circles.” These are group therapy sessions effectively offered by EA’s health plan. Healing circles can cover a variety of issues and are intended to help employees process difficult experiences – from mass shootings to human rights attacks – in a peer group. But it’s not clear what other steps EA can take to help LGBTQ+ women and people who will be affected by anti-choice and anti-trans legislation.
According to the town hall meeting transcript obtained by Kotaku, Singh ended the town hall meeting with a few words of comfort to EA employees and their investors:
“But please know that every time one of these things comes up, we’ve really put a lot of care and thought into it, and considered various perspectives, and then decided what’s in the best interest of EA and the various stakeholder communities. that we have, including our people, our players, our fans and stakeholders, [and] our shareholders”.
EA isn’t the only gaming company to draw the ire of employees for handling ongoing political issues. In mid-May, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan issued a company-wide email in which he urged employees to “respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities.” This was followed by five paragraphs about their cats’ birthday party, hoping to “inspire everyone to be mindful of the balance that can help alleviate the stress of uncertain world events.”
A week later, Sony-owned Insomniac Games donated $50,000 to the pro-choice Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project. This donation was accompanied by another $50,000 from Sony through its PlayStation Cares program, which matches charitable donations made by Sony employees. But according to The Washington Post, Sony allegedly required Insomniac employees to keep quiet about Sony donating to the cause. Despite Ryan’s comments and the company’s demand that Insomniac remain silent, Sony has agreed to match all donations to charitable organizations as long as they are made by Sony employees through the PlayStation Cares program.
A number of companies have publicly expressed their support for reproductive rights, including Destiny maker Bungie, developer of Guild Wars ArenaNetPsychonaut Developer Double Fineand deck ninethe developer behind several entries in the Life is Strange game series.