Deck Nine report shows there's still a lot of work to do in gaming

An IGN report revealed several problematic issues going on at Life Is Strange developer, Deck Nine.
Life is Strange: True Colors - Official Trailer | Square Enix Presents 2021
Life is Strange: True Colors - Official Trailer | Square Enix Presents 2021 / IGN

While the video gaming industry is one that is meant to bring happiness and joy to the millions that partake, it is not immune to the culture wars that attack nearly every aspect of society today. The developer of Life Is Strange, Deck Nine, found itself wrapped up in a terrible story as a report revealed issues with Nazi symbols, hate speech, toxicity, and much more.

Rebekah Valentine of IGN released an in-depth report on April 5 that chronicled much of the disturbing issues. According to the piece, references to the number 88 raised initial concerns, which then spawned more problematic content, including references to a racist meme, the number 18, and the Hagal rune, all of which have links to Nazi rhetoric. It took more than half a year before those symbols were addressed and Deck Nine CEO Mark Lyons had the staff remove them. It was determined that their appearance in the game was “unintentional.”

From there, the piece dives into a multitude of situations cited by current and former employees of the studio. These problems included issues with crunch, low pay, and unfair treatment of women employees in a variety of ways. There’s a lot to take away from Valentine’s piece which shows yet another example of the pervasive issues that have plagued the industry for years but have now become a major talking point.

Deck Nine’s former narrative director and CCO, Zak Garriss was also prominently named in the piece. According to the report, he was known for “love bombing” employees and saying, “representation in games didn’t matter.” He also ran afoul of marginalized members of the team, including a situation in which many pushed to keep a date-rape scene and derogatory portrayal of migrants out of Life Is Strange: True Colors.

The full report gives an in-depth look at a major organization in gaming that continues to have the problems many have claimed they want to see out of the industry. The problem is that many within leadership positions are putting on a strong front for the public while allowing issues like these to survive within the company. When finally confronted on those issues, leadership is allowed to skirt out the typical response of “training” as enough to appease those on the outside.

There’s no place for Nazi symbols in games, or hate speech woven into them in an attempt to appease a toxic segment of the country. The gaming industry needs to find a way to weed these problematic people and issues out of the industry. Does that mean boycotting games, developers, or publishers that don’t act fast enough when issues arise? Or what about the outlets that platform those pushing narratives from Gamergate 2.0? All those bad actors need to be pushed out of the industry. That means companies relieving people of positions and ignoring those platforms that push hateful conspiracies. Swiftly.

Rebekah Valentine’s report on Deck Nine shows that there’s still so much work needed in the gaming space. Do not be surprised if more issues like this are uncovered, but it is up to the media covering the news, and fans responding with their money and time commitments to truly drive the necessary change.