EA was forced to apologize as reports emerged that a member of its Game Changers program sexually harassed minors. The publisher was reportedly informed of these complaints as early as last December, but did little until the allegations spilled into the open.
A report published by Kotaku yesterday outlines a disturbing chain of events wherein a popular Sims streamer allegedly sexually harassed two minors online, and EA failed to properly address the harassment for months. The accused, who goes by the handle Dylan Simz, was a member of EA's "Game Changers" program. He reportedly remained a Game Changer for several months after EA's community manager told one of the boys Simz wouldn't bother him again (the harassment of minors allegedly continued shortly thereafter).
Game Changers is the name of EA's community partnership program. Selected participants can access early code, preview events, and receive other perks. Simz has since stepped down from Game Changers, and Kotaku's attempts to contact him revealed he's deleted much of his online presence.
Kotaku's report alleges Simz used his position in the community to become close with young fans of EA's massively popular life simulator. Targets were then sent lewd messages and detailed descriptions of sexual fantasies in the wee hours of the morning. One teen says Simz flashed him on camera and commented on his 14-year-old brother being "hot."
Though the teens were hesitant to report Simz' behavior given his lofty community status as a Game Changer, EA was reportedly made aware of the situation last December. Nothing changed until the teens approached Tabitha ("Pastel Sims"), another popular figure in the Sims community. On March 5, Tabitha published a video titled "the sims community is full of pedoph*lia" that blasted Simz for his behavior and condemned EA for refusing to do anything about it.
“This is alarming for so many reasons, but what was more alarming is the fact that that one of the victims contacted two of the SimGurus to tell them what was going on and report this man, because he is an EA Game Changer, and what did they do? Nothing," Tabitha says in her 7-minute video. "I don't know if I want to keep being a Simmer at this point. I'm humiliated to even be associated with this brand. They should be embarrassed that they let this man be a representative of who they are as a company.”
Simz stepped down as a Game Changer shortly after the video was published. On March 7, Lyndsay Pearson, the general manager for the Sims, published a statement on Twitter apologizing for not stripping Simz of his Game Changer title as soon as the allegations were made. "We sincerely apologize for the delay in taking the right actions here," Pearson wrote. "We are disappointed in how events have unfolded, and own our responsibility in that."