GOG.com, the online game retailer known for its stance against digital rights management (DRM), is embroiled in yet another cultural debate on Twitter. This week a representative elected to use a hashtag promoting unity among transgender people to instead promote its own storefront. The tweet was later deleted. While no apology was issued, GOG.com took the opportunity to recommit itself to refocusing its messaging solely about the games it sells.
The hashtag in question, #WontBeErased, spread widely yesterday on Twitter amid news of a memo leaked from inside the Trump administration. That memo, shared with and authenticated by the New York Times, indicated that the Department of Health and Human Services would seek to narrow the definition of “sex” under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a move that could limit protections for transgender people under federal law.
Those manning the Twitter feed at Poland-based GOG.com jumped into the fray with a tweet that stated, “Classic PC Games #WontBeErased on our watch. Yeah, how’s that for some use of hashtags.” The tweet was later deleted, but not before public outcry.
In a statement on Twitter, representatives of GOG.com later said that the tweet was simply a bad pun.
“Yesterday, we posted a tweet containing a trending hashtag as a pun. The tweet was neither intended as a malicious attack, nor as a comment to the ongoing social debate. GOG should focus only on games. We acknowledge that and we commit to it.”
News of the ill-informed tweet come just months after an incident in which GOG.com’s Twitter account posted an image of a tombstone reading “R.I.P games journalism.” The cause of death on the fictional tombstone was listed as suicide, and the date given was Aug. 28, 2014.
That date is synonymous with the beginning of GamerGate, an online hate group that targets journalists, women, people of color and the LGBTQ community in and around the game industry. GamerGate has been credited with providing support for the Trump campaign and later the Trump administration, as well as engineering a template for harassing other journalists throughout the 2016 election season into the present day.
GOG.com later apologized, stating, “Our intention was never to hurt or condone hate.”
It should also be noted that GOG.com’s sister company, CD Projekt Red, is working on a new title dealing with issues of transhumanism. Cyberpunk 2077 will focus on self-augmentation via cybernetic implants, a common theme within the cyberpunk genre. In August, CD Projekt’s own Twitter account elected to make a formal apology after making a joke about incorrectly assuming a person’s gender.
“Sorry to all those offended by one of the responses sent out from our account earlier,” wrote a representative. “Harming anyone was never our intention.”
Polygon reached out to GOG.com for further comment. None was offered.