Following allegations of sexual misconduct by a Sims community member who was part of Electronic Arts’ Game Changers community program, the head of EA’s Sims franchise has publicly apologized for the company’s inadequate handling of the situation.
On Thursday, general manager for The Sims Lyndsay Pearson said on Twitter that accusations of sexual misconduct involving minors against a Sims Game Changer were brought to the Sims team in December. Members of the Sims team looked into the allegations, but did not properly investigate or respond to the matter, Pearson said.
“We were made aware of alleged inappropriate conduct between a Sims Game Changer and a member of our community,” Pearson said. “While this activity did not happen in any official Sims channel, it did indeed happen in a private chat room on an external service.”
She added, “The actions taken at the time were clearly not sufficient, and not in line with our values as a company.”
The situation came to a head on Tuesday, when the original allegations spread, thanks to a YouTube video posted by community member Pastel Sims. The video called out Sims team members, known as SimGurus, for their alleged inaction, and included chat logs that purported to show the EA Game Changer messaging male minors to groom them into sending sexual images and videos.
Game Changers is an Electronic Arts-wide program, but the developers behind each franchise — including The Sims — pick their own Game Changers. There is no minimum amount of followers or subscribers, but Game Changers are chosen based on creating original content for social channels. Game Changers are partially selected according to their “integrity and honesty,” as well as being players who “engage with [their community] in thoughtful and constructive ways,” according to EA.
There are benefits to being a Game Changer, including “early access to upcoming content and even the opportunity to be invited to events like SimsCamp and EA Play.”
Pearson said in her statement that the accused Sims Game Changer is no longer part of the program, and that EA is taking the following steps:
We have contacted the appropriate authorities and given them the relevant information
The Sims Game Changer in question has been removed from the program
We are investigating the breakdown in our internal process
We are making immediate improvements to our internal investigation and escalation processes, and ensuring our entire team learns from this
We will reinforce our strict guidelines on ethics and conduct standards with all of our Game Changers
The EA Game Changer at the heart of the allegations has since removed all content from his YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter accounts.
On behalf of the Sims team, Pearson apologized in her statement, saying, “We are disappointed in how events have unfolded, and we own our responsibility in that.”
You can read Pearson’s full statement on Twitter below.