Subnautica’s sound designer Simon Chylinski has been fired following outcry over insensitive statements made on his Twitter account.
Subnautica is an underwater survival game full of eerie animal noises and a techno soundtrack. Over the weekend, fans of the game discovered a history of racially insensitive tweets and tweets critical of gender diversity on sound designer Chylinski’s account. The tweets appear to have been discovered following the resurfacing of a 2016 poll made by game director Charlie Cleveland. The poll asked if players would rather have the ability to “play as a woman” or have developer Unknown Worlds “improve [the] core game.” Cleveland subsequently deleted the poll, to which Chylinski had responded in 2016, “we need a ‘diversity’ slider in the options. It will make the character progessively [sic] darker more feminie [sic] and less sexy.” Cleveland called Chylinski’s behavior “trolling” on February 3 of this year.
Twitter users subsequently found many questionable statements in Chylinski’s Twitter feed, including tweets about immigration claiming “importing random ppl from the 3rd world is also importing 3rd world tier crime rates and IQ.” Another tweet mocked a poll on YouTube about gender diversity by referencing attack helicopters, a meme commonly used to make light of transgender issues. Other tweets make light of global pay inequalities between men and women, praise colonialism, or reference “SJW logic.” While some of these statements seem to be made at least in part as trolling, it was enough for Unknown Worlds to take action.
As of February 2, according to his Twitter feed, Chylinski had been working on a Subnautica expansion. Today he tweeted “So. I just got fired…” Game director Charlie Cleveland confirmed that Chylinski is no longer with developer Unknown Worlds, telling Kotaku, “Over the weekend we discovered that one of our team members had made many hateful statements online that are against our company values. After discussing the matter with him, we decided to stop working with him immediately.”
Subnautica has been positively received since its release from early access. The sound in particular has been praised by players. Sea creatures all have distinct sounds, and the soundtrack changes depending on which area of the game players are in. Given this, it’s easy to see why many fans were disappointed by this behavior from a member of the development team. The game’s development team also drew political attention in 2016 when Cleveland explained that he wouldn’t be adding guns to the game as a statement against gun violence.