Nintendo fires Treehouse employee Alison Rapp

Company cites ‘internal policy’

Alison Rapp, a now-former Nintendo Treehouse spokesperson, has been let go from Nintendo after the company discovered she was holding a second job. Rapp had been the center of a recent harassment campaign regarding the removal of a “boob slider” in Xenoblade Chronicles X and a “petting” minigame in Fire Emblem Fates (both of which occurred independent of Rapp).  She has previously appeared on multiple videos representing the company at events like E3 2015.

In a comment sent to IGN, Nintendo claims the termination stemmed from an internal policy regarding employees holding second jobs, and was unconnected to the harassment. “Though Ms. Rapp’s termination follows her being the subject of criticism from certain groups via social media several weeks ago, the two are absolutely not related,” a spokesperson said.

Speaking to Game Informer, Rapp said Nintendo disapproved of her second job and that moonlighting was allowed at the company. She elucidated on the situation on Twitter earlier today. “To pay off student loans, I started moonlighting under a fake name, and with no real identifiers. An anon found out, told them, and here we are. It was moonlighting Nintendo didn’t like, despite the fact that it was anonymous.”

Rapp’s initial tweets on the subject claimed that alleged harassment group GamerGate was the driving force behind the termination, although some industry pundits feel the issue is larger than any specific group. She has received messages telling her to kill herself, in addition to calls for her dismissal regarding a college thesis where she spoke about the sexualization of teenagers in Japanese culture. “When I got back from vacation, Nintendo stripped me of my spokesperson status and did a ‘lateral move’ so I wouldn’t lead games as a PM anymore. This was because the GG mess meant they ‘looked at my tweets’ and decided I wasn’t a good representative of the company,” said Rapp.

By “vacation,” Rapp is referring to her honeymoon, which took place between February 25 and March 14 of this year, creating a vague timeline of events. Her “lateral move” took place around March 14, with her official termination taking place on March 30 — around two weeks later.

Compare this story to the last time Nintendo publicly fired a Treehouse employee: Chris Pranger. Although the reason differs, the timeline is not dissimilar. The podcast interview that caused Pranger’s terminus was posted on August 3, with his official termination taking place on August 12 — nine days later. It’s not quite enough to establish anything definitive, but we can at least glean some insight into how Nintendo fires people.

Rapp also spoke about the culture within Nintendo, and how it related to her preexisting social presence. “About a month after starting, I was asked to not tweet about rape culture because ‘it could become a big story.’ I fought that. I also fought when I wasn’t allowed to stream games but other employees were. I was consistently made to worry that getting another tattoo or piercing would mean they’d pull me from public appearances.”

We’ve reached out to Nintendo for clarification on Rapp’s recent statement and Rapp herself for comment, and will update this story as necessary.

@alisonrapp and @TheChrisPranger [Twitter]

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Mike Cosimano
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