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Oculus under fire for its inventor’s political contributions

Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR Inc. and creator of the Oculus Rift, speaks during the Oculus VR Inc. "Step Into The Rift" event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Facebook Inc.'s Oculus virtual-reality headsets will work with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 and use the software maker's wireless Xbox game controller. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Recently, it was revealed that the inventor of the Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has been a financial backer for a pro-Trump, anti-Clinton meme creation group known as ‘Nimble America’.  This is the same Palmer Luckey, who used a (now deleted) Reddit account under the moniker ‘NimbleRichMan’ to post in the Reddit community known as r/The_Donald, which has been something of an epicenter of memes revolving around this election season. Luckey, who came into a personal fortune worth $700 million (£535 million) when Oculus was bought by Facebook (yep, Facebook owns Oculus), has admitted to backing the pro-Trump political non-profit which seems to be powering the tsunami of white supremacist and other racist image macros being circulated around Reddit.

Using the ‘NimbleRichMan’ account, Luckey posted, “The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals. The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can’t fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.”

In addition to this, Gizmodo.com recently reported that Luckey is also involved in a romantic relationship with Nicole Edelmann; a cosplayer, member of the GamerGate movement, and Trump supporter. While this tidbit is fairly apropos of nothing, it goes to show a bit more of Luckey’s character, that he would align himself with someone who has been so outspoken against a community which has given her so much.

As a result of Luckey’s involvement with Nimble America, several game developers have announced that they will be dropping Oculus support in their current and future games, and still others have publicly spoken out against the the VR platform’s inventor.

Tomorrow Today Labs, a VR middleware company (and developer of an as yet unannounced VR game) recently tweeted, “Hey Oculus, Palmer Luckey’s actions are unacceptable. NewtonVR will not be supporting the Oculus Touch as long as he is employed there.” This was echoed later, when indie game developer Scruta Games tweeted, “Until Palmer Luckey steps down from his position at Oculus, we will be cancelling Oculus support for our games.”

Even non-gaming VR developers have been speaking out against Luckey’s actions. In a series of tweets, writer Mark Sumner pointed out that he had other options. “I backed Oculus’s kickstarter, bought developer kits, was working to adapt non-gaming tools for work site management. Not anymore. Oculus is FAR from the only product on the VR market. And it can just gather dust from now on.”

While this (relatively) small outcry may not currently be as effective as a giant, organized developer boycott which could seriously affect the business success or game selection that Oculus has, the thought of any developer boycotting a platform like Oculus, simply based on a political stance, is a fairly unprecedented thing in our gaming world. This is what’s usually associated with things like events being moved out of specific states over controversial state laws (but on a smaller scale, obviously).

Here’s the thing, though: Luckey is no longer the owner of Oculus, so it can (and should) be asked whether or not these protests & boycotts directed at the appropriate parties. On September 23rd, Luckey posted a response to the issue on his official Facebook page, that he “contributed $10,000 to Nimble America because I thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards.” He also went on to state that he “did not write the ‘NimbleRichMan’ posts”, nor was he responsible for deleting the account, and that his actions do not “represent Oculus”.

Following Luckey’s Facebook post, however, the author of the original report posted what appears to be screenshots of an email conversation between Luckey & the article’s co-author, Gideon Resnick:

As the election draws closer, dear readers, we’ll leave you with this final thought, from indie developers Kokoromi & Polytron:

“In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform. If you are a voting citizen of the United States, please remember to register and make your voice heard this Nov. 8. Do not let bigotry, white supremacy, hate, and fear win.”

 

About Doug T. (484 Articles)
A lifelong gamer, disabilities advocate, avowed geek, and serious foodie. Doug was born in South America, currently resides in Northern VA, and spends the majority of his time indulging in his current passions of gaming & food, while making sure not to take life or himself too seriously.
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