Certain Affinity, a texas-based studio credited with supporting Halo and Call of Duty, has pledged financial assistance to its employees in states and provinces passing anti-trans and anti-abortion laws. The announcement came directly from CEO Max Hoberman, who said the message went to all full-time staff last week, following the Supreme Court’s leaked draft voting to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Unable to “sit back and say or do nothing,” Hoberman posted Certain Affinity’s pledge to help on Twitter (via GamesIndustry.biz). The letter outlines the studio’s commitment to its employees, explicitly calling out recent inhumane pushes from states and the Supreme Court attacking healthcare for the most vulnerable.
“It is appalling that states, including the CA headquarter’s home state of Texas, are wading into what I consider personal health and privacy matter,” Hoberman said. “Recently, this encompassed gross intrusions on the rights and dignity of transgender youth, putting politics over the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of a vulnerable population, and threatening their families, friends, doctors, and other supporters.”
Among the intrusions Hoberman references are the recent orders from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services to probe gender-affirming healthcare as child abuse in February. A month later, a district judge ordered an injunction on Abbott’s investigation, suspending his directive until July, when the case goes to court.
Hoberman’s open letter also acknowledges attacks on Roe v. Wade and the states rushing to revoke access to birth control and abortion as they anticipate the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn. Certain Affinity’s CEO acknowledges there’s a chance they may “fall on the wrong side of the law” but says “it’s a reality and a risk that we must navigate.” It’s a well-founded fear, considering Texas has sought the most insidious ways to implement a bounty system into its anti-abortion legislation.
“If the state or province that you live in restricts access to what a majority of medical experts consider essential care, and this makes remaining there untenable for you and your family, we will cover the pre-approved, documented, reasonable out-of-pocket costs of your relocation to another, safer state or province that we operate in.”
Speaking to Axios, Hoberman said the response was “incredibly positive,” and only “a half-dozen people told him that business should stay out of politics.” That’s the thing, though. As a Texas resident, the state isn’t staying out of my business, and Hoberman notes as much in his comment to Axios.
Certain Affinity isn’t ‘small’ when compared to ideas of an independent studio, andd Axios reports it “has about 175 employees in Texas.” That’s nothing when you consider the cowardice that accompanies the size of companies like Sony, and its PlayStation CEO, Jim Ryan, who implored we “respect differences of opinion.” Sony’s asinine email didn’t go over well, either. Bloomberg reported that PlayStation staff were angered over his comments, and Bungie swore the studio would continue “standing up for what is right” after Ryan’s statement.
Companies like Guild Wars developer ArenaNet, Life is Strange developer Deck Nine, and Double Fine are also among the studios voicing their support for essential healthcare. Microsoft also told the Washington Post it already helps with access to abortion and gender-affirming care but will extend that support to cover travel expenses.
No one has to “respect differences of opinion” when the opinion is please shut up while we impose a rightwing theocracy. Being legislated out of existence is not arguing over superior flavors of ice cream. There’s no room for silence in an industry that isn’t afraid to employ, profit from, and exploit marginalized people.