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Amid President Donald Trump’s latest attack on transgender rights, digital distribution platform GOG.com is under fire for an insensitive remark from the company’s social media team. In its latest misstep, GOG used a trans rights hashtag to make an “edgy” joke about PC gaming, and the team’s apology leaves much to be desired from transgender users.
Controversy sparked on Monday after GOG used the hashtag #WontBeErased in a pun, claiming “Classic PC Games #WontBeErased on our watch.” The hashtag references the transgender community’s response to a new memo circulating in the Trump administration that would define trans peoples’ gender identities in relation to their sex assigned at birth, not their gender. It would also erase federal anti-discrimination protections for transgender men, women, and nonbinary people nationwide.
GOG wasn’t just aware of all of this, it seemed to pride itself on using an incredibly sensitive hashtag for a quick joke.
“Yeah, how’s that for some use of hashtags,” GOG quipped in a since-deleted tweet.
It didn’t take long for the gaming community to criticize GOG’s “joke” and deride it as hurtful and woefully out of touch with the store’s customers.
GOG deleted this but... they really tried to use a Trans rights movement hashtag for some advertising hm... pic.twitter.com/12rqYLBgMS— Piranha Plant main (@nlntendho) October 22, 2018
Whoever has the keys to GOG's social media channels needs to get bounced. That's twice they've been transphobic. Once with a shitty meme and now co-opting a hashtag for trans rights to sell games. FFS— Tanya Killmonger @ TwitchCon (@cypheroftyr) October 22, 2018
>GOG tried to piggyback on a trans rights hashtag for free advertising— Lone (@lonelytiefling) October 22, 2018
more and more I'm feeling like social media should be exclusively for individual, because companies are proving repeatedly that they shouldn't be here. pic.twitter.com/G4cxRIiQ5K
I’ve continually asked GOG and CD Projekt exactly what the fuck is up with their social and at this point I honestly am just gonna Occam’s Razor it.— Heather Alexandra (@transgamerthink) October 22, 2018
Yeah...yeah...it's well past bad now.— Imran Khan (@imranzomg) October 22, 2018
Some Twitter users are outright closing their accounts and refusing to buy from GOG ever again.
@GOGcom really? Trans people are on the verge of losing all our civil rights, so you decide to appropriate our message of resistance so you can sell games? It will be a VERY long time before I buy anything else from your company. pic.twitter.com/WjzCRVzMYL— Reeny_chan (Reeny to my friends) 🏳️🌈 🦞 (@reeny_chan) October 22, 2018
never buying another game on GOG ever again. I suggest others do the same https://t.co/dEOTaaypxK— It's... OLIVE!! (@olivebrinker) October 23, 2018
I thought I was over GOG's attempts at being edgy, but mocking a trans hashtag in response to yesterday's news is a new low for them. I'm done giving them my money.— Ultimate Supreme Jennifer (@jbu3) October 22, 2018
GOG’s Twitter account has a lengthy history with insensitive tweets, including one making fun of people with STDs and another referencing a pro-GamerGate joke about games journalism in Postal 2. Popular gaming news site VG247 even pulled support from the distributor over the latter tweet, calling it a “dog whistle that panders to [the] hate group GamerGate.”
This week’s tweet is also part of an ongoing problem with GOG’s parent company, CD Projekt. The gaming publisher also came under fire earlier this year over a transphobic joke about misgendering from Cyberpunk 2077’s Twitter account. While CD Projekt later deleted the tweet, the company’s response was met with disdain for merely stating “sorry to all those offended” instead of taking responsibility for the harm done.
So it comes as no surprise that, once again, GOG is fueling its own controversy over a non-apology that has been called “infuriating” and “tone deaf.” In a tweet from this morning, GOG stated that yesterday’s tweet was “neither intended as a malicious attack, nor as a comment to the ongoing social debate.” The Daily Dot reached out to both GOG and CD Projekt for comment but did not receive a response.
Yesterday, we posted a tweet containing a trending hashtag as a pun. The tweet was neither intended as a malicious attack, nor as a comment to the ongoing social debate.— GOG.COM (@GOGcom) October 23, 2018
GOG should focus only on games. We acknowledge that and we commit to it.
It’s the 2077 “apology” all over again. “Sorry you were offended” is not an apology, it’s placing blame on the marginalized— Jaclyn Bohlen: Trans Jedi (@Jbandos) October 23, 2018
This does NOT read like an apology, and is tone deaf to the issue.— Derek Burrow (@derekthebard) October 23, 2018
You tried to hijack a hashtag about a very real threat to the life and liberty of 1.4 million people for a cheap laugh.
This wasn’t a pun. That’s not how puns work. Acknowledge the context of your mistake.
They used a hashtag about how the US government might stop legally recognising trans people to make a "joke" about DRM. That sounds like a pretty big problem for a lot of people.— Anton Skjold (@AntonSkjold) October 23, 2018
Trying to figure out if the GOG apology is more infuriating than the people responding that they have no reason to apologize.— Jared Rascher (@KnightErrant_JR) October 23, 2018
this isitn an apology its hardly even an admission of guilt. More this is a part of a disturbing trend out of CDPR/GOG to make hurtful jokes towards groups most at risk. https://t.co/Za2LHT8GNj— Pumpkin Spice Fox (@Just_fionna) October 23, 2018
Bravo. Once again you put the blame on those who took offense instead of showing some backbone. Disappointed, but sadly not even surprised anymore at this point.— RagnarRox (@RagnarRoxShow) October 23, 2018
Love to ignore context and make tasteless jokes for the lulz.— Boo James+ (@iyagovos) October 23, 2018
Wasn't the first time, certainly don't believe it'll be the last.
That's me done with GOG. https://t.co/vb6ogEqsML
MRW reading this non-apology that puts the blame on those who's livelihood you essentially made fun of for likes. pic.twitter.com/RwIRdZvIBd— Spookytember Skull Wolf (@brandnameworgen) October 23, 2018
Some wonder if GOG is purposefully causing controversy and issuing non-apologies to gain interest from GamerGate and other far-right movements.
you knew what you were doing and what that hashtag meant don't pretend like you care you dime-a-dozen gamergate bitch— The Ravadook (@lilRAVVY) October 23, 2018
GOG's social media team is absolutely playing a wink-wink-nudge-nudge game with the gamergate crowd and there's no way the company isn't aware of this https://t.co/MoW09fQd82— that one car from the movie CHRISTINE (@superginrai) October 23, 2018
I urge everyone that follows me to cancel their GOG account. The attached image is a now-deleted tweet from them. They've had weird transphobic and gamergate dog whistles for a bit, and this is the final BS straw. I support trans/non-binary people forever pic.twitter.com/nce1wjVKqF— Matt Caulder (@MattCaulder) October 23, 2018
So, the GOG social account first "accidentally" tweets out about supporting GamerGate, then "accidentally" takes a hashtag meant for support of Trans people to try and make a selling point. Like just admit you don't give a fuck and be done with it. Or replace your social manager.— HollowCheezit (@VengefulCheezit) October 23, 2018
Non-apology from @GOGcom. Using "we want to only focus on games" GG dog whistle excuse. No info on if they fired their social media manager— Inganno (@ItalianForTrick) October 23, 2018
Guess I'm sticking with Humble for DRM-free titles now
I haven't bought anything from GOG in a year anyways, and only get the free games
In today's Don't Buy Games From These People news, it's time to reiterate that GOG, and parent company CD Projekt Red, have repeatedly tweeted nudge-wink neo-Nazi dogwhistle "jokes" from their official PR accounts, particularly targeting trans people.— Caffeinated Otter (@caffeinedOtter) October 23, 2018
Between CDP and GOG, this is the third time in recent memory. Be a jerk, post a vague apology, promise to do better,... and then don't. How is this any different?— DavidJCobb (@DavidJCobb) October 23, 2018
I'm sure Cyberpunk 2077 will be great, with how understanding y'all have been toward folks who don't conform...
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While GOG’s controversial tweets are a problem in their own right, the company’s behavior raises questions about GamerGate’s future in the industry. In a thread on the popular GamerGate subreddit r/KotakuInAction, GamerGaters have vehemently defended GOG’s tweet, with one upvoted comment calling trans people “mentally deficient” and another stating that trans people are “going apeshit.” It remains unclear whether GOG and CD Projekt are actively looking to court these far-right customers, but then again, the damage may already be done.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.