Ubisoft Banning Atlantic Journalist From Watch Dogs Over "Controversial Remarks"

Ubisoft has decided to delete lines recorded by Helen Lewis, a staff writer for The Atlantic, from Watch Dogs Legion after it was revealed that the UK journalist had “made controversial remarks” in past articles.

Lewis, who plays a character named Helen on two episodes of the game’s in-world podcast, is part of a discussion on fascism in Watch Dogs. Although Ubisoft has not confirmed which remarks it was referring to, it is believed that Lewis statements were transphobic in nature.

In an op-ed she wrote for The Times in 2017, she stated “A man can’t just say he has turned into a woman” in reference to new legislation that would simplify transitioning in the UK. Despite her statements, she had previously supported trans rights and opposed the use of the term TERF — trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

In an article in The Guardian, Viv Smythe wrote last year that the term, which she reportedly invented, has “been weaponized at times by both those who advocate trans-inclusion in feminist/female spaces, and those who push for trans-exclusion from female-only spaces.”

Meanwhile, a Ubisoft spokesperson told Kotaku that “Neither Ubisoft nor the game reflect this journalist’s viewpoints.” Ubisoft will replace the two episodes that include Lewis in a forthcoming update for Watch Dogs Legion and has vowed to “reinforce our background checks for partners in the future.”

“The development team worked with an external producer to select speaker profiles for these podcasts and were not aware of the controversy at the time of booking or recording,” the Ubisoft spokesperson said. “While the in-game podcasters are following a pre-approved script and are not speaking in their own name or with their own opinions, we understand this collaboration itself may be seen as offensive and we deeply regret any hurt this has caused.”

Ubisoft has been the subject of an ongoing investigation into multiple allegations of abuse, harassment and misconduct against staff. As a result, several Ubisoft employees have resigned or been terminated, including Serge Hascoët, Maxime Béland, the co-founder of Ubisoft Toronto, and Yannis Mallat, the managing director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios.

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