In a classic display of not being able to read the room, Wales Interactive released a trailer for their upcoming title Gamer Girl, then pulled it. For those of you not in the know, the game takes a look at the life of a woman streamer going by the name Abicake99 (played by Alexandra Burton, who co-wrote the script). Developed by FMV Future, you play a moderator for her chat as she livestreams games and chats with people in general. You end up becoming a friend and advisor remotely, but things start to go out of hand with her ex-boyfriend, and what appears to be you being stalked. The game gives you choices you can make that affect the outcome, including you being fired as a mod if you screw up.
However, almost as soon as the trailer went live, it was pulled from YouTube by the publisher after people went after the game's content in the comments and on social media. If you haven't been paying attention to Twitter for the past month, the gaming community has been sharing stories of sexual harassment, including stories of being stalked and a few of being raped, leading to the industry at multiple levels to investigate and out people for their behavior. So many viewed releasing this particular trailer in the middle of everything that's happening to be in poor taste, to say the least. Wales Interactive took to Twitter to defend the game across multiple tweets, here's a compiled version of their statement below.
Gamer Girl is about the impact user comments and actions have on a streamer's mental health and wellbeing. The reason why FMV Future created the game was to raise the issue of the toxic environment which can often appear online behind the anonymity of a username. Without giving away too much, Gamer Girl is an empowering story of a female streamer who, with the help of her moderator friend, battles the trolls and — overcomes— the toxic characters in her stream. Gamer Girl was co-written by Alexandra Burton, the lead actress who improvised the entire script. The research into the streaming content of Gamer Girl took 4 years and the dev team at FMV Future interviewed dozens of female streamers most of whom have experienced abuse of various kinds online — some have even shared their experiences during interviews within the game. Players start the game as one of Abi's friends whom she trusts, and it is their job to make the channel a success but also to guide the stream to keep Abi in a positive frame of mind. Online abuse is real and is still happening every day — Gamer Girl seeks to raise awareness of this issue.
Regardless of how you feel about the game, the fact is the company could not have chosen a worse time to release a trailer for this particular title. While we don't know the extent of the game's content, it's clear that for a lot of women streamers, it hits so close to home that it feels like what they're going through on a daily basis already. Especially some of the screenshots you see of people insulting the lead character in the chat and the stress she goes through with an audience of faceless users with fake names. We'll see what happens with the game in the months to come, but for now, Gamer Girl is set to be released sometime in September for PC and all three major consoles.