During its E3 2017 press conference on Sunday, Xbox wowed fans with a gorgeously animated sci-fi game called The Last Night. But in perhaps the fastest real-life example of a "milkshake duck" the internet's ever seen, The Last Night's creator, Tim Soret, is now in the spotlight for a very different reason. In a series of tweets from 2014, Soret sympathized with the Gamergate movement and said he was "against feminism."
Soret has since apologized and claims his views on the subject have changed, but questions about the political messaging of The Last Night have yet to be entirely resolved.
Remember Gamergate? It never really went away
In case you're not up-to-date on your gaming history, here's a quick recap.
Gamergate was a movement ostensibly meant to advocate for better "ethics in gaming journalism." In reality, it was a coalition of typically young, white, male gamers hell-bent on carrying out targeted harassment campaigns against women and other minorities in the gaming community. When a critic spoke up who held feminist or progressive views, like Anita Sarkeesian, Gamergaters responded with vitriol and threats of violence.
In 2014, Gawker published an excellent timeline of how Gamergate's message became more and more muddled and insidious over time. Nearly three years later, it's still active — just look at the drama around Mass Effect: Andromeda.
That brings us back to E3 and Tim Soret, who's under fire for his history of Gamergate comments.
OK, now that we've got that covered, here's a brief sampling of some of the things Soret tweeted in 2014, some of which has since been deleted:
• "The Gamergate people are for journalistic integrity, honest debate, transparency, inclusiveness and egalitarianism."
• "I'm against feminism, because it's getting more and more skewed. I am for egalitarianism. I don't care boy, girl, alien."
For those of you who might be wondering why Soret's personal views have anything to do with the game he's making, it sounds like his personal politics might manifest within The Last Night, too. For example, he said the following about the game's plot in a tweet that seems to have since been deleted: "Our game The Last Night will take place in a cyberpunk world where modern feminism won, instead of egalitarianism."
Tim Soret claims he no longer holds anti-feminist or Gamergate-adjacent views
So, how has Soret (and his company, Odd Tales) responded to all this backlash against The Last Night? In an email to Mic, Odd Tales provided a joint statement with the game's publisher, Raw Fury, that said Soret no longer holds the anti-feminist views he spouted in 2014. Here's a brief portion of the full statement, which you can read in its entirety on TwitLonger:
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.
In a livestreamed PC gaming event on Monday, Soret addressed his previous comments yet again, saying that he's changed since 2014.
"I am embarrassed by some tweets I made in the past," he said. "They don’t represent what I am today or what The Last Night will be about."
Microsoft sent the following statement to Mic via email: "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." A representative declined to comment on whether the company was aware of Soret's political views before it gave his game a platform during its E3 press conference.
Soret promises The Last Night won't be soaked with Gamergate messaging
Soret claims that he and The Last Night don't perpetuate troubling political messages, but the game's description on Steam, which could be interpreted as a warning against the dangers of socialism, has raised more questions than it answers.
"The fight for survival doesn't mean food and water, but a purpose for living," its description says. "Human labor and creativity has been surpassed by AI, so people are now defining themselves by what they consume, not what they create." An earlier version, quoted on Polygon, also added: "Stabilized by universal income, people struggle to find their calling or identity."
In additional tweets, Soret clarified that The Last Night is "in no way" a "game against feminism" — but it does "challenge techno-social progress as a whole."
The Last Night won't be available until 2018, so we'll have to wait a while to see for ourselves.
More gaming news and updates
Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity and an analysis of gaming’s racist habit of darkening villains’ skin tones.