On Friday morning, the Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade. As the news spread across the internet, key gaming industry figures shared their dismay at the decision, which leaves states free to ban abortion. About half of the nation’s states are prepared to ban or severely restrict access to abortion care in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. In 13 states, including Texas, legislatures have already passed “trigger laws” banning abortion that must go into effect within 30 days of the court ruling.
Professional game streamers who reach audiences in the tens of thousands of viewers have been at a loss for words in immediate reactions published publicly on Friday. Developers who create and design video games are Rebell. Some game publishers and esports organizations have expressed willingness to pay for employees to travel to states where abortion will remain a protected right.
Follow the Washington Post’s live coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion
Two-thirds of Americans play video games, and the average age of a gamer is 33, according to a recent report by the Entertainment Software Association, a video game industry trade association. Industry streamers, developers and publishers with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and Twitch have a direct line of communication with some of America’s youngest potential voters. Some politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), have streamed on Twitch in the past to reach impressionable young viewers.
On Friday, that same audience saw key public figures in the video game industry take to social media to express their frustration and disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion.
“I am currently not proud to be an American” tweeted Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, co-owner of lifestyle and esports brand 100 Thieves, and streamer with over 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. “Women no longer have bodily autonomy. Children are being slaughtered in schools due to outdated gun laws and lack of mental health support. Millions of Americans cannot afford basic drugs and health care due to obscene costs. Repugnant.”
In a statement Friday, Bungie, the developer behind the popular Halo franchise, said the company has created a “travel reimbursement program” for employees who need to travel to another state to access an abortion. .
“It is a difficult day for our country. Good people will be hurt by this decision,” tweeted Bungie CEO Pete Parsons. “[We] will do everything in our power to protect our people and ensure that they can live happy and healthy lives.
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The industry’s response to the ruling mirrors its reaction in May, when a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked – with a few notable exceptions. Last month, PlayStation President Jim Ryan emailed the company asking staff to “respect differences of opinion” regarding abortion rights. After Ryan’s email, Insomniac, the PlayStation studio behind “Ratchet and Clank,” donated $50,000 to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Aid Program. But at the time, Insomniac’s chief executive said the company had been barred from making a public statement about reproductive rights or its donation.
On Friday, at least five PlayStation studios – including Insomniac — tweeted in favor of access to abortion care, a marked shift in approach for Sony affiliates.
“We are human beings who make games”, Insomniac Games tweeted. “Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy are human rights.”
Neil Druckmann, co-chairman of Sony-owned Naughty Dog and public face of the company, donated $10,000 to the NARAL Pro-Choise America Foundation and posted a screenshot on twitter.
A Sony spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
A number of other game industry studios and developers released public statements on Friday in support of access to abortion care, including Microsoft and Ubisoft. In a statement provided by a spokesperson, Microsoft wrote that the company “will do everything we can under the law” to help employees access “essential health care,” including services like abortion and gender-affirming care, regardless of where they live in the US
“This support has been extended to include assistance with travel costs for these medical and other legal services,” the statement said.
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Many streamers, casters and professional gamers – all with tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers – started their days tweeting reactions to the court ruling.
“They don’t care about the children; unborn or born. They don’t care about YOU – they just don’t care,” wrote Soe Gschwind, Overwatch League commentator. “It’s about control and we all know it doesn’t stop there.”
Zach “Asmongold”, a popular Twitch streamer with 3.2 million subscribers on the streaming site just wrote: “If you don’t have autonomy over your own body, what real freedom can you have?”