A fired Nintendo contractor who filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board for the first time spoke out, revealing his name along with additional details about the incident that ultimately led to the complaint being filed in April.
In an interview with AxiosMcKenzie Clifton, a former Nintendo QA tester, claimed they were fired after they asked Nintendo of America’s view on the growing trend of in-game unions during an online public meeting. They said they were reprimanded for asking a “less assertive question” and fired a month later.
Nintendo’s official reasoning was that Clifton had disclosed classified information. And the mentioned tweet, dated February 16, stated:[I]In today’s build, someone somewhere must have deleted every other texture in the game before everything was red now. Just like pure red. It’s so silly. “
Clifton says the tweet is vague, arguing that it is “disinformation.” However, Nintendo is also notorious for its strict social media policy, which has resulted in many employees stopping posting entirely to avoid crossing what they consider an unmarked line.
Clifton’s contract was terminated in February, which led to them filing a labor complaint that made headlines across the industry. This was followed by more current and former Nintendo employees who came to share their own experiences.
A report published by IGN earlier this year revealed a growing discontent within Nintendo of America over the inability to obtain full-time employment along with working conditions. Many Nintendo of America employees, especially those working in departments like QA, are contractors with limited benefits and privileges.
Clifton said things were “pretty good at first” at US Nintendo, saying it got a promotion and bonuses. However, after not appearing in the Super Smash Bros. credits. Ultimate, they said they suffered from severe depression (they were later added to the credits after they left). They say they have also been frustrated by being forced to take breaks during contract renewals – frustrations shared by other contract employees.
After the complaint, an investigation and talks for a possible settlement were launched. Clifton said their case was an apology signed by Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, but that Nintendo responded with an offer to speak with the company’s human resources department, then a neutral letter of reference.
“I hope that sharing this story will make more and more people think about how the gaming industry works and how these companies, which everyone knows and love as providers of fun entertainment, are so much more than that,” Clifton said.
IGN has contacted Nintendo for comment and will be updated with any official statement.
Kat Bailey is IGN’s Senior News Editor as well as a co-host for Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have a tip? Send her a direct message at the_katbot.