A designer on The Last Night, one of the buzziest indie titles shown during Microsoft’s E3 2017 press conference yesterday, has become the subject of an escalating backlash on social media, as Twitter users dig into some of his more political past tweets.
Tim Soret is founder of Odd Tales, which is working on the cyberpunk action game. Following The Last Night’s debut trailer during the Microsoft presser, those familiar with his social media presence resurfaced several of his tweets dating from 2014 to April of this year. These posts included references to anti-feminist ideals and “identity politics;” most notably, Soret expressed sympathies for the hate-mongering GamerGate movement during its height in 2014.
“The Gamergate people are for journalistc integrity, honest debate, transparency, inclusiveness, & egalitarianism [sic],” Soret wrote in September 2014, in one of the tweets that prompted the most discussion.
“I’m against feminism, because it’s getting more and more skewed,” he tweeted just before that, in July 2014. “I am for egalitariasm [sic]. I don’t care, boy, girl, alien.”
In response to celebrity scientist Bill Nye’s new Netflix show, Soret said this past April that “injecting identity politics under the cover of ‘science’, it's not gonna end well.”
As screenshots of Soret’s tweets circulated across Twitter, some who’d been excited about The Last Night began to express serious reservations. The game’s premise, as described on its Steam page, further stoked their ire.
“Stabilised by universal income, people struggle to find their calling or identity, and define themselves by what they consume, rather than what they create,” it reads. Players assume the role of a man named Charlie, who finds himself disaffected in this technological, socialist dystopia.
In response to the growing discontent, Soret posted a series of messages saying that he’d changed his stance.
“Controversy time,” he wrote in the first of three tweets. “That's fine. Let's talk about it, because it's important. I completely stand for equality & inclusiveness.”
“In no way is The Last Night a game against feminism or any form of equality,” he continued. “A lot of things changed for me these last years. The fictional setting of the game does challenge techno-social progress as a whole but certainly not trying to promote regressive ideas.”
We reached out to The Last Night’s publisher, Raw Fury Games, Sunday night about Soret’s tweets. The company responded with a lengthy statement later that evening:
We at Raw Fury believe in equality, believe in feminism, and believe everyone has a right and chance at the equal pursuit of happiness. We would not be working with Tim Soret / Odd Tales at all if we believed they were against these principles in any aspect.
The comments Tim made in 2014 are certainly surprising and don’t fit the person we know, and we hope that everyone reading this who knows us at Raw Fury on a personal and professional level knows that we wouldn’t tolerate working with someone who portrays the caricature of Tim going around the internet right now.
The wording of his statements toward feminism in 2014 was poor, and his buying into GamerGate as a movement on the notion that it represented gamers against journalists was naive, but in the same year he also cheered the rise of women in gaming. In a similar situation as the one happening now, folks on the IdleThumbs forums found questionable tweets and Tim took it upon himself to address them. What came from that was a dialogue where different viewpoints were considered and debated in a purposeful way.
Here is a link to everything including his tweets, his response, and the response of the forum; we hope you’ll take the time to read through it.
Side note: Debating Anita Sarkeesian’s efforts toward highlighting sexism in the games industry is touchy, and though Tim’s post back then was naive we felt that he wasn’t being malicious like so many others have been to Anita in the past, so we share all of this with the hope people can see that first hand. We understand that no matter what there will be people who will not look at Tim the same again and we respect that, too.
A lot can change in three years, including viewpoints, and Tim has assured us that The Last Night does not spout a message steeped in regressive stances. We trust Tim and know that he is an advocate for progression both in and outside of our industry, and we hope that this will be apparent moving forward.
A representative for Odd Tales also told Polygon that the studio’s relationship with Raw Fury Games and Microsoft has not been affected by the outrage.
We’ve contacted Microsoft about Soret’s tweets and the backlash, and will update when we hear back.
The Last Night is set for a 2018 release on Windows PC and Xbox One.
Update: Soret apologized for his past tweets while talking about The Last Night onstage at the PC Gaming Show.
“I want to apologize for those [tweets],” Soret said. “They don’t in any way represent where I am today or what The Last Night will be about.”
A Microsoft spokesperson told Polygon, “We don’t support comments that fail to reflect our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which are part of our everyday business and core values.”