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Tripwire CEO out after tweeting support for Texas abortion ban

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John Gibson’s statement does not reflect staff values, Tripwire says

AUSTIN, TX - SEPT 1: Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, TX. Texas passed SB8 which effectively bans nearly all abortions and it went into effect Sept. 1. A request to the Supreme Court to block the bill went unanswered and the Court still has yet to take any action on it.
Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, TX.
Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

John Gibson, the CEO of Tripwire Interactive, developer of Maneater and the Killing Floor games, has stepped down from his role following a tweet in support of a Texas anti-abortion law that went into effect in September. The law, which “effectively bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy,” Vox reported, violates earlier rulings that protect a person’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Gibson tweeted on Sept. 4 in support of the anti-abortion measures.

“Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat,” Gibson tweeted. “As an entertainer I don’t get political often. Yet with so many vocal peers on the other side of this issue, I felt it was important to go on the record as a pro-life game developer.”

Gibson faced criticism across the video game industry and on social media, with several current employees tweeting in opposition of the former CEO’s views. Shipwright Studios, a game co-developer, said it was cancelling existing contracts with Tripwire. Torn Banner Studios, the developer behind Chivalry 2 (which Tripwire published), spoke out against Gibson’s comments, saying they were “in opposition to what we believe about women’s rights.”

On Monday night, Tripwire announced that Gibson has “stepped down,” with co-founding member Alan Wilson now operating as interim CEO.

“The comments given by John Gibson are of his own opinion, and do not reflect those of Tripwire Interactive as a company,” Tripwire said in a statement published to the Tripwire website. “His comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community. Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment.”

Tripwire said Willson “will work with the rest of the Tripwire leadership team to take steps with employees and partners to address their concerns including executing a company-wide town hall meeting and promoting open dialogue with Tripwire leadership and all employees. His understanding of both the company’s culture and the creative vision of our games will carry the team through this transition, with full support from the other Tripwire leaders.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abott (R) signed the anti-abortion law in May. The law, called SB 8, went into effect last week, backed by a Supreme Court opinion that said it could take effect. The law has been criticized as “a maze of procedural complexities” by Vox, which described it as appearing to be “drafted to intentionally frustrate lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.” This is because the government itself isn’t enforcing its ban on abortions as early as six weeks — as soon as a heartbeat can be detected. Instead, the law gives power to private citizens to sue abortion providers. “This unusual provision makes it harder for abortion-rights groups to sue state officials to block the law, since they aren’t technically the ones who will enforce it,” Vox said.

The six-week timeframe is important, because many people do not even know they’re pregnant before this deadline. Certain medical emergencies could exempt a person from the law, but those exemptions do not include pregnancies resulting from rape. Similar bills have passed in other states, but none are currently in effect while they’re challenged in court. The Supreme Court is expected to take on a case related to a Mississippi law that bans “most abortions after 15 weeks,” Vox said.