Former tester sheds more light on the labor complaint filed against Nintendo earlier this year.
A fired Nintendo contractor who filed an official complaint with the National Labor Relations Board has spoken out for the first time, revealing their 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 dismissed after asking for Nintendo of America's view on the growing unionization trend within gaming during an online public meeting. They said they were rebuked for asking a “downer question” and fired a month later.
Nintendo's official reasoning was that Clifton had disclosed confidential information. The cited tweet, dated February 16, read, “[I]n today’s build someone somewhere must have deleted every other texture in the game bc everything is now red. Just like, pure red. it’s very silly.”
Cllifton says that the tweet is vague, arguing that it is “misdirection.” However, Nintendo is also known for its strict social media policy, leading to many employees to stop posting entirely in order to avoid crossing what they perceive as an ill-defined line.
Clifton's contract was terminated in February, leading them to file the labor complaint that grabbed headlines throughout the industry. It was followed by more current and former employees of Nintendo coming forward to share their own experiences.
A report published by IGN earlier this year revealed growing discontentment within Nintendo of America over a perceived inability to gain 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 things were “actually very good initially” at Nintendo of America, saying they earned a promotion and a raise. However, after not appearing in the credits of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, they say they experienced severe depression (they were later added to the credits after their departure). They say that they were also frustrated by being forced to take breaks during contract renewal periods — frustrations shared by other contract employees.
I hope that sharing this story can get more and more people thinking about how the games industry works and how these companies, that everyone’s come to know and love as providers of fun entertainment, are so much more than that“
Following the complaint, an investigation and talks for a potential settlement followed. Clifton said that their condition was a signed apology from Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, but that Nintendo countered with an offer to speak with the company's HR department, then a neutral letter of reference.
“I hope that sharing this story can get more and more people thinking about how the games industry works and how these companies, that everyone’s come to 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 as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.