A fired Nintendo contractor who filed a formal 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 being filed in April.
In an interview with Axios, former Nintendo QA tester Mackenzie Clifton alleged that they were fired after asking Nintendo of America’s perspective on the growing unionization trend in gaming during a online public meeting. They said they were reprimanded for asking a “depressing question” and fired a month later.
Nintendo’s official reasoning was that Clifton leaked 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 everything is now red. Just like, pure red. it’s very silly.
Cllifton says the tweet is vague, arguing it is a “hijack”. However, Nintendo is also notorious for its strict social media policy, which has led many employees to stop posting altogether 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 made headlines across the industry. He was followed by other current and former Nintendo employees who came forward to share their own experiences.
A report by IGN earlier this year revealed growing dissatisfaction within Nintendo of America over a perceived inability to secure full-time employment and working conditions. Many Nintendo of America employees, especially those in departments like QA, are contractors with limited benefits and privileges.
Clifton said things were “actually pretty good initially” at Nintendo of America, saying they got a promotion and a raise. However, after not appearing in the credits of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, they say they had a severe depression (they were 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 workers.
Following the complaint, an investigation and talks for a possible settlement followed. Clifton said their condition was a signed apology from Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser, but Nintendo responded with an offer to speak with the company’s human resources department and then a neutral letter of reference.
“I hope sharing this story inspires more and more people to think about how the gaming industry works and how these companies, which everyone knows and loves as providers of fun entertainment, are so much more than that,” Clifton said.
IGN has contacted Nintendo for comment and will update any official statement.
Kat Bailey is senior news writer at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have any advice? DM him at @the_katbot.
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