What is Sweet Baby Inc.? All about the company wrapped up in Gamergate 2.0

Sweet Baby Inc has found itself at the center of the next battle in the video gaming culture wars.
In this photo illustration, the Alan Wake 2 logo game is...
In this photo illustration, the Alan Wake 2 logo game is... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

There’s a lot to talk about in the gaming community. From the push for iteration heading into next-gen consoles, continuing layoffs amid rising profits, and the slate of interesting releases to come. Yet, there’s a lot of surprising discourse around a small company known as Sweet Baby Inc. No, they don’t have the next big release on the way. Instead, they are a consulting firm that is at the crux of what is becoming known as Gamergate 2.0. With so much talk about the company, it’s time to investigate who this organization is and what they do in the industry.

As with any organization, Sweet Baby Inc’s official website is the first place to look when doing a deep dive into the company. The company’s About Us section is the standard flare. Started in 2018, it is described as a “narrative development and consultation studio” with a mission to “tell better, more empathetic stories while diversifying and enriching the video games industry.” Through such, the goal is to make “games more engaging, more fun, more meaningful, and more inclusive, for everyone.”

Anyone familiar with current political arguments can note two words in that section that will set off alarms for some. It’s clear that Sweet Baby Inc.’s work is targeted towards fostering a gaming space that is more representative of the world that we live in while welcoming those of diverse backgrounds, cultures, creeds, and any other demographics that make us different from our cores.

Sweet Baby Inc. boasts a client list that includes some of the biggest organizations and award-winning games in the industry. The Projects section features games like Alan Wake II, God of War Ragnarök, Goodbye Volcano High, Spider-Man 2, and more. Hovering over each title allows you to see exactly what areas their consulting services were used as well. Other clients include Xbox Game Studios, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Rocksteady, and several more.

Taking the research online reveals a different perception of Sweet Baby Inc., however. Search for the company on YouTube and you’ll find several titles such as “CEO Exposed,” “Sweet Baby Inc Game DESTROYED IN SALES,” “Sweet Baby Inc Kills Entire Game Studio,” “The Sweet Baby Inc Backlash,” and several others. Many of these videos have tens of thousands or even millions of views.

The content is consistent in that various personalities discuss the perceived harm that Sweet Baby Inc. is doing with its work. The use of terms like “woke” adorns much of the content, pointing toward the idea that this organization is working to bring DEI initiatives into gaming. In many ways, the content is like the “Go woke, go broke” narratives seen in television, movies, comics, and more.

The targeting of Sweet Baby started in October of 2023, widely due to Alan Wake 2. Various accusations started to rise across the gaming space. Such as the idea that Saga Anderson in Alan Wake 2 was meant to be a white woman. Her character is biracial. Looking through various pieces about Sweet Baby Inc., it’s hard to find actual concrete evidence of changes that were made to games to push the famed “woke agenda.”

But there’s still additional digging into what has caused Sweet Baby Inc to become such a hated target among the online video games space. That moment can be traced back to the 2019 Game Developers Conference. It was at this conference that founder and eventual CEO of Sweet Baby Inc, Kim Belair gave a presentation titled “Now You See Me: Representation as Innovation.” The GDC YouTube channel describes the video as “Kim Belair shares her experiences as a minority creator, highlights the pitfalls that often see developers telling the same old story, and offers solutions to help craft stronger narratives and recruit new voices.”

In this approximately 29-minute presentation, Belair talks about that very topic, offering solutions to why inclusivity is necessary in gaming from a business perspective. She tracks her history from school through to her position in gaming with examples of where inclusivity was missed. Her conversation then goes into what representation means as a “creator of joy,” using that to segue into the work that Sweet Baby Inc does in gaming. She gave one interesting example of creating Commander Shepard in the famed Mass Effect series and her reaction to seeing her character on screen.

“In my Mass Effect experience, this is almost an accidental form of representation. Because it’s something that is a possibility, but it’s not guaranteed for any player depending on the kind of character, the kind of Commander Shepard you make,” Belair said. “So, I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if this weren’t an accident but it was actually the intention of the game designers. What if they said we are going to set out to create a moment of joy in people who look like this, people who feel represented by this.”

While this is a powerful statement to hear and read, it’s the second part of her presentation that set the gaming online creator space ablaze recently. It’s during this second portion that she describes the core demographic as white, CIS, and males and then calls them a “picky baby” when serving them up gaming content. And how the industry is making a mistake by focusing on serving that segment of the community what they want rather than being more inclusive of the desires of all.

“We can’t create under a system that bars innovation for fear of a tantrum,” Belair displayed during her presentation.

As she goes into how this is done in gaming there is another statement, she makes that causes an uproar. Specifically, when she talks about how to push these choices in the space and working for change to be implemented.

“If they [higher ups] don’t see the value in what you're asking for when you ask for consultants when you ask for research, go have a coffee with your marketing team and just terrify them with the possibility of what’s going to happen if they don’t give you what they want,” Belair said. “I say that as a joke but it is actually very very true because if you start to consider the people who are player and audience-facing and who have to deal with mitigating harm, there’s a general value that you can impress upon them, both ethically and financially.”

That’s the statement that has been clipped around the Internet and used to paint this company as an evil part of gaming. Yet, when you look at recent examples like those with Deck Nine, Spider-Man 2, or Stellar Blade, one can easily see how important it is to have consultants in these positions to make recommendations to avoid the headaches that come on the back end. And at the end of the day, that’s what consultants do, they make recommendations. Companies can decide what to do with them, whether they want to implement the recommendations or throw them into the proverbial “suggestion box.”

Yet, those points haven’t stopped the threats sent to the employees of Sweet Baby Inc. The calling card of online vitriol in today’s world is now targeted at this small, Canadian company. All because of some fictitious beliefs about what their work has done to some video games.

“The things they say in our inboxes is..the most evil stuff you’ve ever seen in your life,” said David Bedard, co-founder and COO of Sweet Baby Inc. in an interview with Ash Parrish of The Verge.

Just as the first iteration of Gamergate became the testing ground for online harassment, this version is back at it targeting another group meant to build toward representation for the underrepresented. And yes, it’s once again occurring heading into an election year.  

The culture wars aren’t going away. In fact, they are being further fanned in almost every way. Whether it's sports, movies, or video games – there will always be a big “Boogey Man” behind the scenes for some. Sweet Baby Inc. is the latest target, but when looking at their work and the gaming landscape overall it’s understandable why companies turn to organizations such as this one to help with their work.