There has been a great deal of commotion in the gaming community surrounding recent news that has to do with an ex-employee of Nintendo. Chris Pranger, who was one of the members of the U.S. based Treehouse, was let go on August 12 of this year. This is coming off the heels of an appearance Pranger made on the Part-Time Gamers podcast nine days prior. On that installment (Episode 76) he talked about what he did at Nintendo Treehouse, spoke out on the fiery Super Smash Bros. fan base, how much of a perfectionist Masahiro Sakurai (Super Smash Bros.) is, and even shed some light on Star Fox Zero’s development. He also talked about how the business of localizing first-party Nintendo games works for the North American market.
This was apparently a violation of Nintendo’s non-disclosure policies and is allegedly what resulted in Pranger being fired from the company. It is not that uncommon for a video game development studios to have such rules, as many third-party and first-party studios have similar regulations pertaining to speaking publicly about the inner workings of one’s place of employment. Critics have made the arguments that many members of game companies talk about their jobs and what they work on via Twitter and other social media sites. In Nintendo’s case, high ranking employees like Bill Trennon do this already. Counterarguments suggest that the statements made by Pranger painted Nintendo in a bad light when related to certain fan bases and the internal politics of game localization.
Chris Pranger is truly a Nintendo fan through and through.
Regardless, Chris Pranger is absolutely devastated by this turn of events. As a fan of Nintendo for years, he expressed how crushing being let go has been over Twitter and other forms of social media:
Hello friends and family. As many of you have probably seen, I am no longer at Nintendo. I was terminated this week due to a podcast appearance I made last Monday. It was a stupid judgment call on my part and ultimately it cost me far more than I could have imagined.
I’ve lost the only job I really knew or ever intended to know. Since leaving high school, I’ve had a singular goal in terms of a career. It got me through college and pushed me through the difficult time immediately after college where I learned just how crippling it was to have an English degree in the job market. I applied for 6 years straight for my job. Even before that, I’d made my entire identity around my hope to one day have this perfect job. I was mocked here and there as “Nintendo Boy” from maybe middle school on, but I thought that if I succeeded, it’d all be worth it.
And now it’s gone and I honestly don’t know how to handle myself. A central part of my personality revolves around Nintendo. Anything that I’ve decorated with around my house has a very clear Nintendo theme. My shirts and jackets overwhelmingly show that as well. Being able to finally feel at home at a job is a feeling I can’t easily quantify. I was the guy who’d see a hastily-discarded paper towel in the men’s room and pick it up, saying to myself, “This is my home, and I will keep it clean.”
If we’re being honest, I’m scared. Very scared. I haven’t been without a job for over 4 years, and even then it was during the weird “just exiting college” part of life that everyone goes through. And back then, I was still down in Oregon near family. Living in Washington has struggled to feel normal, but I was grounded in my job. It was where I happily spent my time and saw all of my friends. With that unstuck, Washington suddenly feels alien and empty all over again.
I look around my house and see images of my son and feel such intense shame and crippling sadness. How do I share this part of my life with him? How do I cope knowing that I’ve failed him? Even before this I’d been struggling to want to provide better for him and my wife, knowing that due to my student loans, I wouldn’t be entirely debt-free until I turned 40. That’s not a hyperbole either. I’m just now barely under $100,000 in student debt and my last payment is scheduled for the same year that I turn 40. “That student debt is intimidating, but it’s worth it for the end result.” I’ve undone my end result.
I spent the last week in a miserable place once the podcast began getting coverage. I was instantly scared when a coworker poked me and said, “Hey, you’re on GoNintendo.” Suddenly article after article began appearing in game sites of all languages. Comments sections painted me as an idiot and the like. My Twitter started giving me hourly reminders from people meaning well and otherwise. It seemed unthinkable that I’d be let go for a single moment of poor judgment and my own misunderstandings, but here we are.
Obviously, as I’m writing this at 4 am, I don’t think I have a clear goal. All I can think of is that there’s so much I’ve put at risk. I know that if I can’t find a job at least as good as this one, I won’t be able to provide for my family. I’ve lost them their health coverage and their security. I also know that I’ve probably lost a good deal of my friends, just because I know how hard it can be to stay in touch with someone when the convenience of proximity is lost.
I’m so sorry to everyone. I’ve failed you. You believed in me and supported me and trusted me and I’ve failed you. I’ve failed me. ~Chris Pranger (Previously of Nintendo Treehouse)
Game designer Cliff Bleszinski, for the Jazz Jackrabbit and Gears of War franchises, commented in disagreement with Nintendo’s course of action towards Pranger via Twitter:
Nintendo fires employee that goes on a podcast. Next up they can folks that post youtube videos and do Twitch streams and Twitter?!
Way to allow for some transparency, Big N. 😦
Kinda sad to know the company you grew up with and worshipped and still adore you’d never want to work for, ever ~Cliff Bleszinski
This has sparked much discussion across various media outlets, with many casting judgements in or out of favor for Nintendo’s decision. It is not known if Pranger’s presence on the podcast is the singular cause of his being fired, but the chronology of events transpiring suggest that this is the case. Hopefully, Pranger will be able make his return to the video game industry soon.