His name is Chris Pranger, I don't know him. What media exposure I've had of him, he seemed pretty cool. He was fired because he went off script and appeared on a podcast, dropped a few truth bombs along the way too. Why does this bug me so much? Because it's so damn heavy handed.
On earlier this August, The Part-Time Gamers podcast posted episode 76. It's contents started circulating and it became a larger story than I bet anyone involved suspected. It's good stuff, go download it and listen to it. There are some fantastic anecdotes. Fast forward a week and a half, the larger narrative the media has picked up has been splashed around a couple dozen games and news sites. "CP of NoA was fired for his comments..." "CP Fired from Nintendo after Localization comment" "Nintendo Fires Employee For Speaking On Podcast." The story is around, not hard to find. What is a little harder to find is Chris Prangers facebook post (since taken down) where he pours his fracking heart out his personal sliver of facebook. Read if it pleases you.
Hello friends and family. As many of you have probably seen, I am no longer at Nintendo. I was terminated this week due to a podcast appearance I made last Monday. It was a stupid judgment call on my part and ultimately it cost me far more than I could have imagined.
I’ve lost the only job I really knew or ever intended to know. Since leaving high school, I’ve had a singular goal in terms of a career. It got me through college and pushed me through the difficult time immediately after college where I learned just how crippling it was to have an English degree in the job market. I applied for 6 years straight for my job. Even before that, I’d made my entire identity around my hope to one day have this perfect job. I was mocked here and there as “Nintendo Boy” from maybe middle school on, but I thought that if I succeeded, it’d all be worth it.
And now it’s gone and I honestly don’t know how to handle myself. A central part of my personality revolves around Nintendo. Anything that I’ve decorated with around my house has a very clear Nintendo theme. My shirts and jackets overwhelmingly show that as well. Being able to finally feel at home at a job is a feeling I can’t easily quantify. I was the guy who’d see a hastily-discarded paper towel in the men’s room and pick it up, saying to myself, “This is my home, and I will keep it clean.”
If we’re being honest, I’m scared. Very scared. I haven’t been without a job for over 4 years, and even then it was during the weird “just exiting college” part of life that everyone goes through. And back then, I was still down in Oregon near family. Living in Washington has struggled to feel normal, but I was grounded in my job. It was where I happily spent my time and saw all of my friends. With that unstuck, Washington suddenly feels alien and empty all over again.
I look around my house and see images of my son and feel such intense shame and crippling sadness. How do I share this part of my life with him? How do I cope knowing that I’ve failed him? Even before this I’d been struggling to want to provide better for him and my wife, knowing that due to my student loans, I wouldn’t be entirely debt-free until I turned 40. That’s not a hyperbole either. I’m just now barely under $100,000 in student debt and my last payment is scheduled for the same year that I turn 40. “That student debt is intimidating, but it’s worth it for the end result.” I’ve undone my end result.
I spent the last week in a miserable place once the podcast began getting coverage. I was instantly scared when a coworker poked me and said, “Hey, you’re on GoNintendo.” Suddenly article after article began appearing in game sites of all languages. Comments sections painted me as an idiot and the like. My Twitter started giving me hourly reminders from people meaning well and otherwise. It seemed unthinkable that I’d be let go for a single moment of poor judgment and my own misunderstandings, but here we are.
Obviously, as I’m writing this at 4 am, I don’t think I have a clear goal. All I can think of is that there’s so much I’ve put at risk. I know that if I can’t find a job at least as good as this one, I won’t be able to provide for my family. I’ve lost them their health coverage and their security. I also know that I’ve probably lost a good deal of my friends, just because I know how hard it can be to stay in touch with someone when the convenience of proximity is lost.
I’m so sorry to everyone. I’ve failed you. You believed in me and supported me and trusted me and I’ve failed you. I’ve failed me.
I hope this guy lands on his feet. They sound like trite words, they probably are. But my heart goes out to this guy, a guy I've never met, because he didn't do so terrible a thing. Did he do something wrong? Yes. Did he straight fuck up? Yes. Should he be reprimanded? Sure, as would be according to his contract with NoA and the severity of the incident. From a purely business standpoint, he absolutely should have to account for going native without a PR handler, I'd be shocked if that wasn't in his contract. But in 2015, in an industry that sometimes sways to the song of social media, when the ease of self published expression is so attainable, further discussions so viral, and when the online fan participants are so much louder than the rest of the consumer base? Does he deserve to be fired for a single incident of this magnitude? No. What he deserves is to have had a middle management boss at NoA go to bat for him and give him an opportunity to not fuck up again.
Interviews like this are like a super rare ingredients in an MMO. They never come around, unless you pay attention for long enough. The damn shame is that this dude didn't have to get fired. He could have been reprimanded, NoA wouldn't have to be dealing with all this news press, and they STILL could have gone back to their usual constrictor grip on their company message. No big deal, enthusiasts and game historians then would have just had something they could quote to build interpretations around or impress their friends with. But no, this guy's got to get shit on too. *sigh Alright, bitching over.
Was this decision unreasonable? Is this just how the world works, period? Should more industry people be able to speak at all without a PR rep?