An indie game developer and member of the Philippines chapter of the International Game Developers Association board, named Gwen Foster, made a tweet on March 1st, 2019, highlighting a “white person” in the tweet for the purpose of condescension. The tweet was liked a by few members of the gaming industry, including Gwen Guo from Imba Interactive, and Chad Toprak, the director over the Australian FreePlay Festival, others also defended the use of the tweet, such as Iain Garner from Another Indie. The tweet, however, was not as well received among the general outside of Foster’s social circle, and was severely reproached by another game developer and senior member of the IGDA, Derek Smart.
A white person just told me off for using a tool set and why I didn’t code it from scratch. Well, hate to break it to you pal but
— Gwen Foster 🔜 #notGDC (@ifnotnowgwen) March 1, 2019
The tweet gained more notoriety after YouTube content creator SidAlpha commented on the tweet, condemning Foster for the racially charged statement.
This also prompted game developer and lifetime IGDA member, Derek Smart, to declare his intent to contact the local IGDA Philippines board about the comment.
I am going to have her kicked out of that local IGDA board for this patently abhorrent comment.
— Derek Smart (@dsmart) March 1, 2019
Smart also left a message under Foster’s original tweet, explaining that this is not who the IGDA are and that they do not stand for this kind of rhetoric.
As a lifetime and past board member, I can safely say that this is NOT who we are, what we stand for or what we do!
— Derek Smart (@dsmart) March 1, 2019
When reached for comment, Smart explained that he had contacted the IGDA about Foster’s comment. How the IGDA will respond remains to be seen, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
Regardless of the potential repercussions that Foster might face in light of the racially-charged tweet, some individuals from the Social Justice community decided to chime in and defend Foster’s tweet.
Iain Garner, the co-founder of the small publishing outfit called Another Indie, which was responsible for releasing games like Sinner: Sacrifice For Redemption and Legrand Legacy, slipped into SidAlpha’s comment thread in an attempt to extenuate Foster’s statement, telling SidAlpha he shouldn’t be so “reactionary”.
It matters because we do it more than any other race. You shouldn’t be so reactionary to stuff like this. It directs your audience to the wrong people! @ifnotnowgwen is one of the hardest working community leaders and game developers you will ever meet and earned her voice.
— Iain Garner (BUY MY GAMES) (@memnoch87) March 1, 2019
A small argument broke out about SidAlpha reaction, with some claiming that he jumped to conclusions based on a lack of context. Foster attempted to explain why the comment was made in the first place, but SidAlpha was not content with the explanation given, since it literally didn’t explain why “white person” became the sole focus of the tweet.
Foster told SidAlpha that they didn’t want to put undue attention on the person who made the comment, and proceeded to direct message him about the story after refusing to post the comments in public.
So instead of naming the person you are shaming, you instead claim to shift the blame to “white people”. But clearly, you’re not racist. Ok.
— SidAlpha (@SidAlpha) March 1, 2019
After the conversation, SidAlpha returned to the public space to further reproach Foster for the original tweet, as well as for not providing any supplemental evidence to backup why it was necessary to include a racial identifier in the tweet. Across two separate tweets, SidAlpha explained…
“This person also started DMing me claiming to have proof of their claims. After a pointless discussion via DMs, this person still has yet to show a shred of evidence supporting their racist claims. I do not “listen and believe”. Show me the proof. I despise racism and those that defend it. The color of one’s skin is not a determining factor for intelligence, strength, or moral fiber. We are all people and deserve to be treated as human beings. Scum like this make arguments against others based upon the color of their skin and for no other reason.”
I did ask SidAlpha if he later received any confirmation or evidence that the individual who initiated the encounter with Foster had indeed instigated the event based on racist language, but he said that no evidence was provided by Foster.
While Foster has mostly steered clear from making direct, sociopolitically-divisive comments on Twitter, there are various retweets from those within a certain social circle that Foster retweets, which very clearly highlights the IGDA member’s beliefs, such as a retweet of a thread from the WiDGET CEO, Leena Van D., who castigated former Escapist editor-in-chief Russ Pitts for attempting to discuss ethics in journalism.
Anyone trying to suggest GamerGate had good faith intentions or “was trying to have a larger conversation” need to be treated like they’ve walked into your lounge and taken a shit on your floor while making eye contact and smirking at you.
Don’t put up with it.
— Leena 🔜 GDC (@LeenaVanD) February 6, 2019
So far Foster has not removed the tweet from the timeline, nor has any evidence been shown that indicates that the person who engaged Foster in the conversation did so with racially-charged rhetoric.
For now, a lot of people are calling out the tweet as being racist. If the IDGA decides to respond about the matter, we’ll update the article with their response.
(Thanks for the news tip Blaugast)