A laid-off Nintendo contractor who filed an official complaint with the National Labor Relations Board has spoken out for the first time, revealing his name along with additional details about the incident that ultimately led to the complaint filed in April.
In an interview with Axios, former Nintendo QA tester Mackenzie Clifton alleged that they were fired after asking for Nintendo of America’s opinion on the growing trend of unionization within games during a public online meeting. They said they were reprimanded for asking a “depressing question” and were fired a month later.
Nintendo’s official reasoning was that Clifton had disclosed confidential information. The quoted tweet, dated February 16, read: “[I]In today’s build, someone somewhere must have removed all the other textures from the game because now everything is red. Like, pure red. He’s very silly.
Cllifton says the tweet is vague and argues that it is “misleading.” However, Nintendo is also known for its strict social media policy, leading many employees to stop posting altogether to avoid crossing what they perceive to be an ill-defined line.
Clifton’s contract was terminated in February, prompting them to file the labor complaint that made headlines across the industry. He was followed by more current and former Nintendo employees who came forward to share their own experiences.
A report published by IGN earlier this year revealed growing discontent within Nintendo of America about a perceived inability to obtain full-time employment along with working conditions. Many Nintendo of America employees, particularly those in departments like QA, are contractors with limited benefits and privileges.
Clifton said that things were “really really good at first” at Nintendo of America, saying that they got a promotion and a raise. However, after does not appear in the credits from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, they say they experienced severe depression (later added to the credits after their departure). They say they were also frustrated at being forced to take breaks during contract renewal periods, frustrations shared by other contract employees.
Following the complaint, an investigation and talks for a possible settlement followed. Clifton said his condition was an apology signed by Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, but that Nintendo responded with an offer to speak to the company’s human resources department, then a neutral letter of reference.
“I hope that sharing this story can make more and more people think about how the games industry works and how these companies, which we all know and love as providers of fun entertainment, are so much more than that,” Clifton said.
IGN has reached out to Nintendo for comment and will update with any official statement.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN and a co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have a tip? Send a DM to @the_katbot.
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