Reflecting the culture wars being fought on virtually every medium available today, Tripwire Interactive co-founder John Gibson blamed what he called “social terrorism” for being forced to leave as the developer’s CEO in 2021 and publisher. His comments came during an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, in which he said his firing from the company he helped launch in 2005 left him “devastated”.
“[Social terrorism] is an attempt to use fear and intimidation to make people change,” Gibson said. Either hide or pretend they aren’t what they really are so they can keep their jobs so they can keep their status. And I think that’s just terrible for the world.”
Gibson resigned as chief executive (opens in new tab) from Tripwire shortly after tweeting support for a September 2021 abortion ban. He claims in this interview that he wasn’t the only person on Tripwire’s leadership team with anti-abortion views, and that a woman in a “fairly senior” position opposed until his disappearance. According to Gibson, she chose not to speak out in his defense because she was “outnumbered” and didn’t want to end up in the same position as him.
“That’s how this social terrorism works,” Gibson said. “You scare people, you make their jobs harder, you scare them that people will leave the company if they don’t throw out the person who disagrees with their political views. And she really could.” t overcome the wave of sentiment from the other people.
“And then the other people who agree, they’re afraid to speak out. They don’t want to be next. I had one of the other owners of the company, politically we’re very much on the same page. He thinks cancellation culture is bad, he thinks abortion is bad, and he said, ‘Yeah, I don’t want cancellation next time.'”
Tripwire Interactive’s most well-known games are Killing Floor, Killing Floor 2, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, and Maneater. In 2021, it published the medieval multiplayer action game Chivalry 2 from Torn Banner Studios. PC Gamer reached out to Tripwire for comment on these statements, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
In 2021, Gibson tweeted support for the Texas Heartbeat Law (opens in new tab), a law prohibiting abortion after the detection of fetal heart activity – usually about six weeks after conception. The law also allows any citizen to sue anyone who “aids and encourages” an abortion after that point for a minimum of $10,000. Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, called the ban “horrific,” saying that people “who already face the greatest barriers to accessing health care will be most harmed by this law.”
“As an entertainer, I don’t get political very often,” Gibson tweeted last year. “But with so many vocal colleagues on the other side of this issue, I felt it was important to get on the record as a pro-life game developer.”
The 2021 statement immediately sparked a backlash from Twitter followers, including the original Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski (opens in new tab) and God of War director Cory Barlog (opens in new tab). Other game studios also weighed in: Chivalry 2 developer Torn Banner Studios said Gibson’s statement “contradicts what we believe about women’s rights,” while Shipwright Studios, who had worked with Tripwire as a co-developer on games like Chivalry 2 and Maneater , sever all ties with the company (opens in new tab). A few days later, Tripwire apologized for the comments, saying they “do not reflect those of Tripwire Interactive as a company”, and announced that Gibson had been replaced by co-founder and vice president Alan Wilson.
Gibson said in a statement to PC Gamer that he volunteered as CEO a few days after the tweet due to internal pressure from some employees, as well as negative coverage on social media and in the press.
“This created an unsustainable situation with the ‘least bad’ solution being that we sell the company and I leave Tripwire completely,” said Gibson. “While I remained a board member during this time, I functionally left the position of CEO and remained with the company in an unspecified role and as the largest shareholder until Tripwire was sold to Embracer.” Gibson declined to clarify what position he held at the studio after stepping down as CEO.
Gibson also revealed that the situation at Tripwire got worse after “people on the far right made hundreds of death threats” in opposition to his ousting as CEO. “Those death threats from the right made an already extremely challenging situation between me and the company almost impossible,” said Gibson.
At the time of his resignation, Gibson said in a statement that Tripwire’s owners and executives acted “with class” and “professionalism” and that they treated him “with great care and dignity” in the days leading up to his departure, and more recently tweeted that he “never started (opens in new tab)stayed with the studio for another year and helped broker the sale of the company to Embracer Group earlier this year. However, he painted a very different picture during his interview on Fox, telling him that the experience was “destroyed” was him and left him suicidal for a while.
“Words can hardly convey how crushed I was,” said Gibson. “Everyone who works puts a little bit of themselves into something, or maybe a lot. When you’re doing something like that, it’s a passion, something you used to do for free, and you just totally love it – you spent 20 years. 25 years of your life, developing your skills, and you’re at the top of your game, and you love what you do every day, you just love coming to work and making people happy.fans happy, but also, the company would take 10 percent of our profit and distribute it to the employees, and there was a lot of profit.
“People were buying cars and houses, and I saw people coming to work smiling and happy, and I just loved a job where I could not only make the public happy, but the employees as well. And to have all of that destroyed, feeling like I shared something with my wife, I’ll tell you what I said to her I said I just want to die Because I don’t want to live in a world that is so unjust Yes I got depressed, of course I got angry, suicidal. I didn’t want to leave the house. It destroyed me. And I went through 13 months of hell.”
Gibson told PC Gamer that his goal in speaking out is to “put a human face” on his experience and end political extremism and destructiveness, which he clearly blames on “liberal” interests.
“I’m speaking out not to push back my former business, but to raise awareness in the hope that in the future some people will think before going after people on social media because it can ruin someone’s life,” said Gibson. “I want to encourage people to think about whether they would want something like this to happen to their father, sister, child or themselves. It is important that we rebalance on both ends of the political spectrum and have a dialogue about important issues without anger and malice The alternative is that we become more and more polarized and it gets worse for all of us.
“Currently, most conservatives will work with any liberal, but the same is not true the other way around. Everyone should have the right to work without losing their livelihoods because of their political views or their right to free speech to those share points of view.”
The conservative talk show Tucker Carlson Tonight airs nightly on Fox and is one of the highest rated shows (opens in new tab) on television. The host is known for espousing white supremacist views, including promoting the “great replacement (opens in new tab)theory and that the US is being “invaded” by immigrants and refugees, most recently from the war the US started Afghanistan (opens in new tab). So said New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Confessore in a recent NPR (opens in new tab) interview that Tucker Carlson Tonight “may be the most racist show in cable news history”.