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Nintendo fires employee targeted by online harassment campaign

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Alison Rapp fired from Nintendo

Does the name Alison Rapp ring a bell? It probably doesn’t if you’ve shied away from online conflict and disgusting harassment campaigns over social media, but it’s a name we’re likely going to be hearing about for the foreseeable future thanks to Nintendo. Alison Rapp was formally employed by Nintendo of America, but was fired yesterday after what she claims to be an unjust inquisition into her social media life. In short, Rapp claims that she was fired for defending herself online.

Rapp has been engaged with a heated harassment campaign for months now, which she credits the most blame for her recent unemployment. A member of the Treehouse localisation team for Nintendo, Rapp was personally targeted and singled out as the reason for so many localisation changes made to Nintendo titles in the West, most predominantly being ones cantered on character sexualisation and sexual content. Being an outspoken Feminist, this type of attack was common for Rapp.

Rapp wasn’t even involved in the actual development of these localised ports. She was part of the marketing team, representing Nintendo frequently at shows like E3, appearing on live streams for Treehouse and acting as a project manager for many different projects. Rapp was used to this unjustified hate, but never expected it to force Nintendo to look into her social media arguments and find cause for dismissal.

“As many of you know, the last couple months have been quite a whirlwind of controversy and [Gamergate] harassment. Over the last few [weeks], I’ve had to talk safety measures [with my] family — including talks [with] police to warn them of possible suspicious activity… Throughout this, GG has been digging up all kinds of things about my personal life and contacting Nintendo about them.

“Today, the decision was made: I am no longer a good, safe representative of Nintendo, and my employment has been terminated.”

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Nintendo, of course, came out shortly after Rapp posted the above on Twitter to explain their reason. Yes, they had engaged in a full search of her online activities, including a search of an Amazon Wish List that she had shared with people online. What they found what that Rapp had been working a second job under an anonymous name, which Nintendo claims was a conflict of interest and breach of their employee agreement.

“Alison Rapp was terminated due to violation of an internal company policy involving holding a second job in conflict with Nintendo’s corporate culture. Though Ms. Rapp’s termination follows her being the subject of criticism from certain groups via social media several weeks ago, the two are absolutely not related. Nintendo is a company committed to fostering inclusion and diversity in both our company and the broader video game industry and we firmly reject the harassment of individuals based on gender, race or personal beliefs. We wish Ms. Rapp well in her future endeavors.”

Rapp responded again at this point, not denying that she had taken up a second job under an anonymous name to pay off student loans. She feels that the second position wasn’t a conflict at all, as moonlighting under a pseudo name detached her from her position at Nintendo. That may or may not be the way Nintendo sees it, but Rapp claims that she’s been at this for a long time now without issue. And she could’ve continued, if the hate campaign directed at her didn’t choose to dig up her personal life and decide to act on it.

“It was moonlighting Nintendo didn’t like, despite the fact that it was anonymous. Here’s the thing: Do [you] honestly think that without GG’s attacks, the ‘lateral move’ and the obsessive privacy digging would have happened?” Rapp said. “Do you think that if the industry wasn’t afraid of women, sex-positivity, etc. that the [anonymous] moonlighting I did would have been a problem?

“The amount of obsession it must take to dig up old tweets, find addresses, link me to anon things not related to games is … not normal for a professional industry.”

Alison was a marketing specialist at Treehouse, Nintendo's localisation house

And that’s all very true. regardless of whether or not Rapp’s second job was a breach of Nintendo policy or not (Nintendo isn’t exactly being clear on that, and no one outside of the circumstances really knows), it seems none of it would’ve made a difference to Rapp had anonymous parties not searched for it out of a hate for her. Rapp is uncommonly outspoken for a Nintendo employee online, so it’s also curious that Nintendo is trying to brush that aside after a history of weird relations with people and their personal Twitter accounts.

Rapp now becomes another casualty of unjustified online harassment, which is nicely detailed in an older investigative piece conducted by Kotaku. Being singled out for changes in games that Rapp had no control over because of her views on woman’s representation in games in one thing. Making sure she gets fired as a result of this vendetta is a completely different, twisted thing entirely.

I don’t expect Rapp to let this die down lightly either, and Nintendo will probably have a little more explaining to do if they’re really trying to dodge questions as to why the investigation was conducted in the first place.

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

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