The world of VR gaming can be linked in many cases, back to Palmer Luckey. From his humble Kickstarter to working with Facebook after being bought by them, VR is in major gaming platform. This can be shown with new VR platforms like HTC Vive and PlayStation VR out now and releasing this Fall. VR is going to be entering the mainstream, so recent news in that context is even worse to learn about.
The original Rift headset was funded by thousands of people who were willing to put down $300 for a device they’d never seen, and its then-teenage creator was a regular on VR forums and Reddit, popping into threads to answer questions. But a 2014 acquisition by Facebook alienated some of Oculus’ supporters, and the Rift’s consumer launch was stalled for months by an undisclosed component shortage. Even before Luckey’s project was discovered, the company had acquired — fairly or unfairly — a reputation for being aloof and secretive. Thanks to its shipping difficulties, its dependence on a few tentpole games, and the fact that it launched without motion controllers, the Rift is in a vulnerable position. And this news comes only two weeks before the annual Oculus Connect developers conference, where it’s set to reveal a shipping date for its long-awaited Touch controllers.
Today, we will be looking at recent information surrounding Luckey’s role in an online hate group, how he is a major part of it, and the impact this might potentially have on Oculus VR future.
Reports released from The Daily Beast indicate that Luckey has a big role in an major hate-group.
Nimble America says it’s dedicated to proving that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” according to the company’s introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton’s face alongside the words “Too Big to Jail.” “We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not,” a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit. Potential donors from Donald Trump’s biggest online community—Reddit’s r/The_Donald, where one of the rules is “no dissenters”—turned on the organization this weekend, refusing to believe “NimbleRichMan” was the anonymous “near-billionaire” he claimed to be and causing a rift on one of the alt-right’s most powerful organizational tools.
So, this group’s main purpose is to present hate and bile toward Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump….but what they represent is the biggest issue. This community fosters deep bile toward many different people; it is literary a white-supremacist, misogynistic and anti-LGBT harassment group. And Luckey was in full support if this and said this about his role in the group.
Nimble Rich Man, is reportedly Luckey.
“It’s something that no campaign is going to run,” Luckey said of the proposed billboards for the project. “I’ve got plenty of money,” Luckey added. “Money is not my issue. I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time.”
Jolly good time. Let that sink in for a bit. More so with the below comment from Gamasutra about this story.
Much of the anger over Luckey’s decision to support Nimble America seems to be rooted in the group’s close ties to the Donald Trump-dedicated subreddit, which in recent months has become a home for white supremacist images and has been the home to racist, anti-semitic, and sexist language.
To say this has opened many gamers and developers eyes about Oculus would be an understatement. One look on NeoGaf’s over 60+ page thread or a 3,700 comment filled Reddit thread covering this story speaks for itself.
In the day since the story broke, a handful of developers have openly announced that they’re suspending work on Oculus headsets. Plenty of Twitter users have sworn off the platform, and Reddit’s Oculus community is debating the piece in a 3,700-comment thread.
NeoGaf is just one of many places reporting on this story, with developers telling their side of the story not long after. One of the biggest developers to comment on this story is Insomniac Games. They currently have a mulit-game deal with Oculus and gave the following statement.
“Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis.”
This is really damning, as Oculus is funding the projects they are releasing on Oculus. Other studios also commented on this story and the anger about this news is present.
Two Vive developers I spoke with, both of whom have highly rated games on Steam Early Access, also said that they would no longer be comfortable working with Oculus. “I am currently returning my Oculus dev hardware,” says one, who recalls backing the Oculus Kickstarter campaign in its first hour. “One of the dignities of being an indie developer is being able to live one’s politics, on a daily basis. Part and parcel of that is making regular decisions on whether or not to invest time/money/energy/allegiance to various platforms. For myself, finding out last night that the founder of one of the main platforms for this medium basically thinks white supremacy is funny was a crystallizing moment.” Rift users will still be able to play the game through Valve’s SteamVR system, but it won’t be tailored to Oculus’ custom Touch controllers.
Below are two tweets of other developers dropping Oculus support because of this news.
I'm dropping Oculus support from Tower Underworld Online V due to Palmer Luckey's politics. If you're not familiar with TUOV, ask me.
— Theranosaurus Rex (@cambrian_era) September 23, 2016
— Tomorrow Today Labs (@TTLabsVR) September 23, 2016
SUPERHYPERCUBE will not be supporting Oculus. https://t.co/sqtAzZ8hJZ
— Polytron (@Polytron) September 23, 2016
— Scruta Games (@ScrutaGames) September 23, 2016
Its clear that Luckey’s actions will influence the amount of games releasing/supporting Oculus Rift.
If Oculus is in danger of losing anyone, it’s people who planned to port games from other platforms, like the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Polytron, the company behind high-profile PlayStation VR game SuperHyperCube, stated today that it would not be adding Oculus Rift support — “in a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform,” they wrote.
My view point on this whole situation is honestly baffling. Luckey is one of the faces of VR and to be part of something vile and loathed as the hate-community that he invested money into ‘just for fun’ is horrifying.
Remember, he was one of the minds that helped pioneered VR technology and currently is going to be a big part of not just gaming but other parts of society in the future. Using VR technology to help train doctors, helping students learn in new inventive ways, and opening up the door to more ways to communicate with others. Associating some of that promising future with a man who thinks White Supremacy is funny, just one of the biggest jokes I personally ever saw.
The aftermath of this story is unraveling, with many studios either withdrawing support from Oculus or refuse to release projects on the platform until Facebook releases an official comment regarding this issue.
I could hazard to guess that Oculus will try and push Luckey away from the Oculus branding (Facebook owns the IP rights to the device) to avoid further backlash from Luckey’s actions. It seems that we got some response from Luckey regarding the situation and he gave the following statement.
I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views.
Here’s more background: I contributed $10,000 to Nimble America because I thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards. I am a libertarian who has publicly supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the past, and I plan on voting for Gary in this election as well.
I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment. I did not write the “NimbleRichMan” posts, nor did I delete the account. Reports that I am a founder or employee of Nimble America are false. I don’t have any plans to donate beyond what I have already given to Nimble America.
Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus. I’m sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community.
This statement however is officially endorsed by Oculus, as stated in this recent article from Hollywood Reporter. Quote – “When asked for comment, a representative from Oculus directed The Hollywood Reporter to Luckey’s Facebook post.” But note I bolded and italicized a portion of Luckey’s official statement on this matter, as the next picture I will be sharing indicates he is lying or that this isn’t the complete truth.
The writer for one of the source articles, Gideon Resnick, states that Palmer Luckey is NimbleRichMan and has proof to back up his calm.
Here is where I sought that clarification from him and what he said. pic.twitter.com/pPfLKUX5Cg
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) September 24, 2016