Over the course of the last 18 months, victims of sexual harassment and violence have stepped forward across various industries. This wave is not because there are suddenly more victims, but more likely due to victims being emboldened to step forward after seeing others do the same. But sometimes, even when victims are brave enough to step forward, the systems put in place which should protect them still fail.
In a recent article from Kotaku, several teenagers are claiming that popular game producer EA ignored their reports of sexual harassment from a member of their Game Changer program who goes by the name of Dylan Simz. The Game Changer program consists of YouTubers and other gaming influencers who are given special access to early games. These Game Changers are influential within the EA games community, as Simz was in The Sims community.
According to Kotaku, last December a teen member of the Sims community reported to a Community Manager for The Sims that Simz had been sending him explicit messages. At the time, the victim was 15. The victim had recently befriended another member of the community and the two realized they had had similar encounters with Simz. The victim proceeded to report the same information to a developer who works on The Sims, providing some screenshots of conversations with Simz. Both victims felt that Simz was abusing his influence as a Game Changer and feared he may do the same to other teens. The Community Manager said she would speak to Simz.
Months went by with nothing more than an apology Simz sent one of the victims claiming not to know he was underage. When the victims heard that Simz was allegedly targeting yet another young boy, they took their stories to a YouTuber named Pastel Sims who held a live stream and published a video on the incident which currently has over 31,000 views.
Dylan Simz then stepped down from the Game Changer program and deleted social media accounts. As word got out, other victims came forward about how Simz used his influence to target young boys and sexually harass them.
"I didn't speak to EA because I thought it would just end badly for me. Dylan made me believe that he was all I had," one of the victims told Kotaku. "At the time I didn't have many friends, all the social connections I had were through him. I thought that if word came out about what he did to me, they would side with him and I would be called a liar and be left by myself."
On March 7, a GM for The Sims released a statement on Twitter regarding the situation saying "our process to properly investigate and escalate anything of this nature was not followed."
The statement also acknowledged that Simz should've immediately been removed from the program.
"An appropriate response would have been to immediately dismiss the Sims Game Changer and take additional steps to ensure our community was protected. We sincerely apologize for the delay in taking the right action here. We are disappointed in how events have unfolded, and we own our responsibility in that."
Unfortunately, the damage has already been done to trust within the community, with prominent gamers claiming the won't be giving money to a company they feel betrayed them. And while the victims can't go back and reverse the harassment they dealt with, they were ultimately able to get Simz to step down, hopefully saving more potential victims and shedding light on the way these issues could be better handled moving forward.