The Small Company at the Center of ‘Gamergate 2.0’

Amidst all of this, Sweet Baby, a 16-person outfit in an industry of tens of thousands, has become a lightning rod for a new, rapidly growing campaign against the specter of “forced diversification.”

Belair cofounded Sweet Baby in 2018. It’s a studio that companies reach out to for things like sensitivity readings or as, essentially, a writers’ room for hire. They make suggestions, offer input, but they’re not—as their detractors would have you believe—adding or removing characters or storylines in a void. Control of the projects Sweet Baby works on ultimately remains with the companies that pay for its services. “I still have a director over me, or a writer, somebody else who’s going to be able to make that decision,” Belair says. “Very few people have any kind of veto power. And certainly that does not rest in the hands of hired hands.”

Although early efforts began on sites like notorious harassment hub Kiwi Farms last year, much of the misinformation about Sweet Baby has coalesced around Sweet Baby Inc Detected, a Steam curation group that bills itself as “a tracker for games involved with” the company. The group, founded January 29, also includes a Discord server that has acted as a fulcrum for hateful comments, transphobia, homophobia, racism, and sexism. Following a Kotaku report about Sweet Baby Inc Detected, members of the chat have relentlessly harassed the reporter of the story online.

According to one Sweet Baby writer, there was a “significant uptick” in harassment aimed at the company after the Steam group’s creation, including sending harassing texts and DMs. (WIRED has agreed to withhold the writer’s name for their safety.) “They’re treating this like a holy war,” they say. ”It is taking on a cult-like vibe.”

In an interview on YouTube, the man who claims he started Sweet Baby Inc Detected says his interest in the company began with God of War Ragnarök—a game he admits to never having played—where he “noticed things were different” and wondered, “Why is this game like this?” Navigating to Sweet Baby’s website, he recounts looking over projects they’ve worked on, like the massively successful Spider-Man 2 (another game he says he’s never played), and “noticing a pattern.” Sweet Baby Inc Detected’s creator, who says he’s based in Brazil, never explains exactly what that pattern is, instead using buzzwords like “woke products” and “virtue signaling” and noting that several of these games had an “extremely diverse cast.” Later in the interview, he complains that “our games, our entertainment, the stuff we love, are utilized for this kind of stuff, political agendas.”

Games like God of War Ragnarök or Alan Wake II—both of which include Black women in prominent roles in promotion, story, or both—do not touch on any political topics in their stories. Ragnarök, a game built around mythical realms, is about preventing the end of the world. Alan Wake is about the titular writer returning from an otherworldly prison and joining Saga Anderson to investigate ritual murders.

“There are a lot of games that we have been accused of working on, especially if they include characters of color or queer characters, that have nothing to do with us,” Belair says. “I think that makes it very, very obvious what they think the pattern really is.”

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