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Distressed employees accuse Love Island: The Game developer of being anti-LGBT+: ‘I feel so used’

Ed Nightingale August 23, 2021
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Love Island

Love Island. (ITV)

The Love Island mobile game has been delayed after allegations of an anti-LGBT workplace.

As reported by The Independent, dozens of staff at Love Island: The Game developer Fusebox Games face losing their jobs after raising concerns about the treatment of LGBT+ people in another of their games: Matchmaker: Puzzles and Stories.

That game features a storyline in which the player – a divorced female character – meets a “handsome” but “maybe too young” man who takes the player’s drink without consent and will only return it in exchange for a kiss.

It’s also said to fetishize bisexual people, with the player character pretending to be bisexual to appear more interesting to potential dates.

Many LGBT+ employees were distressed by the storyline and were told it would be removed from the game, only for it to still appear in international versions.

In response, an open letter was signed by 31 Fusebox staff and shared on 24 May against the “problematic content” in Matchmaker: Puzzles and Stories.

“This is what upsets me, and just made me cry”, one employee told The Independent. “I feel so used and hurt. I feel like I put so much love and effort into something and I’m not getting the bare minimum of respect as a worker [that] I should deserve.”

Sources told The Independent that in a meeting to resolve the situation, chief operating officer Paul Virapen showed disrespectful behaviour and stormed out.

Three weeks after the open letter was shared, many employees who signed it were told their jobs were at risk due to financial issues.

Love Island: The Game was also put into “sunset mode”, a euphemism for indefinite delay.

Fusebox told The Independent the contents of their games are “naturally a subjective area” and that their “games reflect the stories that are often shared in the reality shows that we work with, and as such, delivering content enjoyed by players of the game, and fans of the show alike”.

Fusebox was also “saddened by the personal impact our restructure had on team members affected” but that it was “the right decision for the long term success of the business”.

The Fusebox website states the developer believes in “writing inclusive stories that reflect the diversity of our players”, but many employees feel this is performative allyship.

Love Island: The Game is “currently in development to ensure it meets the high standards of the previous seasons” and will be released towards the end of the year according to Fusebox, despite staff stating it’s in “sunset mode”.

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Related topics: gaming, gaming industry, love island

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