Oculus Devs Ponder Support of Platform Over Founder's Funding of Political Troll Group

Oculus Devs Ponder Support of Platform Over Founder's Funding of Political Troll Group

Palmer Luckey has been funding Nimble America and now everyone knows about it. What happens now?

Updated: In a statement on Facebook, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey denied certain allegations in the Daily Beast's report. Luckey admits donating to Nimble America, but denies that he was behind the NimbleRichMan Reddit account.

"I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views."

"Here’s more background: I 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. I am a libertarian who has publicly supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the past, and I plan on voting for Gary in this election as well."

"I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment. I did not write the "NimbleRichMan" posts, nor did I delete the account. Reports that I am a founder or employee of Nimble America are false. I don’t have any plans to donate beyond what I have already given to Nimble America."

In response, Daily Beast reporter Gideon Resnick posted snippets of correspondence between himself and Luckey on Twitter, showing the latter admitting to using and posting on the NimbleRichMan account.

Original story: Last night, the Daily Beast reported that Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey is funding Nimble America, a group that supports Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. The story immediately took off, leading some to say they could not support the Oculus platform any longer.

Also... racist memes.

If Luckey was merely a supporter of Trump or had donated to the campaign, many would've disagreed with his politics, given him the side-eye, and moved on. The problem is Nimble America supports Trump by flooding the internet with memes targeted at Democratic Presidential Hillary Clinton and her supporters. These memes are frequently racist, sexist, and anti-semitic in nature, which is where the backlash is rooted. Posting such memes was Nimble America's entire point. The group was started by two moderators of The Donald subreddit and taking a look at that board can give you an idea of what Nimble America does.

"What we've been able to accomplish here has been amazing and much bigger than any of us and certainly much bigger than Reddit," wrote the group's leaders in a post on Reddit. "We've proven that shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real. So many of you have asked us, how we can bring this to real life. We wanted to do it in a way that was transparent and had purpose. Not just sell t-shirts to sell them, but to sell t-shirts to shitpost."

Luckey's involvement in Nimble America was uncovered due to a Reddit revolt against the group last weekend. A donor known as NimbleRichMan offered to match donations to the group for 48 hours, stating they were an anonymous billionaire. Reddit members were skeptical of the claims, calling the funding drive a scam and turning against Nimble America.

Alt-right reporter Milo Yiannopoulos, entered the fray to vouch for NimbleRichMan; The Daily Beast found that Yiannopoulos and Luckey have had a long friendship and Yiannopoulos was key to putting Luckey in contact with Nimble America. The Daily Beast's look into Nimble America and NimbleRichMan uncovered Luckey's involvement, confirmed by Luckey himself.

This would normally not be a story I'd cover on USgamer, but since the Daily Beast story went live, some developers have discontinued or rethought their support of the Oculus VR platform.

SuperHyperCube won't be coming to Oculus.

Fez developer Polytron and Kokoromi have been working on SuperHyperCube, a game that will launch on PlayStationVR first. There was a planned Oculus Rift version of the game coming after that initial exclusivity period, but the developers have decided not to pursue that version.

"You may have seen the news yesterday that ties Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey to Nimble America, a Trump-endorsing organization Luckey started to defame Clinton via 'the power of Internet memes'. In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform," the developers said in a statement. "In light of this, we will not be pursuing Oculus support for our upcoming VR release, SuperHyperCube."

"Palmer Luckey's actions are unacceptable. NewtonVR will not be supporting the Oculus Touch as long as he is employed there," wrote NewtonVR developer Tomorrow Today Labs.

Other developers chose to continue supporting the platform, noting that the politics of its founder may not reflect the company as a whole. Insomniac Games, one of the larger developers working on Oculus Rift titles, condemned Luckey's support of Nimble America.

Oh shi---

"Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech," Insomniac Games told Vice Motherboard. "While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis."

DarkNet and Tactera developer E. McNeill told Motherboard that he wasn't boycotting Oculus, but he did call for others counterbalance Luckey's funding with funding to the Clinton campaign.

"I've had a great experience working with Oculus over the years (including working with a lot of good people), and I like the products that they've built," said McNeill. "I don't think I'm going to boycott the company based on the politics of its founder. I'll keep working with them. But this sure as hell doesn't make me feel better about it."

Oddly enough, this is not the first time that Oculus VR has been in boycott territory. After the Rift began shipping its pre-order units, some noticed that the Terms of Service were rather draconian with user data and decided they couldn't support the platform. The company also blocked an application called Revive, which allowed games purchased from the Oculus store to work on an HTC Vive. A month later, Oculus VR relented and unblocked Revive, following intense criticism.

It helps that VR hasn't really taken over the market due to a high barrier of entry and that there are other VR platforms out there for developers. In this situation, it's rather easy for developers to decide they aren't supporting the Oculus Rift, instead having their games on the HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.

The truth is choosing to support or not support a corporate entity due to the politics of its leadership has always been a very grey area. Luckey's actions may be reprehensible to you or I, but it's also likely that those actions do not reflect the rest of the company. There are many good people working within Oculus that work very hard to make the platform what it is.

That said, one can also understand that supporting of Oculus VR by buying the Rift or purchasing games through the Oculus Store, will eventually put money in Luckey's pocket to continue to fund actions that you find wrong. What you decide to do with that information, within the bounds of your conscience, is a personal decision. Where that line falls for any one person is up to them, ultimately. No one else can make that decision for you. They can and will judge you on those decisions though. Freedom of expression and all that.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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