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Ideas/CommentaryPolitics

Insomniac Games Condemns Trump’s Immigration Ban As ‘Deplorable,’ Says Will Harm The Company

Insomniac Games, makers of game titles like Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon, has become the first major American company in our sector—animation/vfx/games—to publicly condemn a policy by the new American president.

The statement was delivered in the form of a Youtube video with the company’s founder and president, Ted Price, surrounded by dozens of his employees. (The company employs around 190 people.)

“We, at Insomniac Games, stand united in strongly opposing President Trump’s immigration ban,” Price said in the statement. “There’s no question that these orders will harm us as a company and many of our team members. So we ask, ‘Is this the American way? Is discriminating based on religious faith or national origin American?’ Absolutely not. This is a deplorable, discriminatory act that we and many others across the nation believe is patently unconstitutional.”

Insomniac joins major corporations like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Starbucks who have publicly spoken out about the ban.

The immigration ban is consistent with a pattern of discriminatory and racist statements made by Trump throughout his election campaign that targeted veterans, black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities.

Other companies in the animation sector have yet to comment publicly on any of Trump’s policies, but anyone who works in a mid-size-to-large animation, vfx, or game studio understands that our industry is a huge melting pot that depends upon talent from every corner of the world. The point was expressed succinctly yesterday in a series of tweets by Pixar animator Cat Hicks:

  • aarett

    Please quote or video link Trump’s discriminatory statement about LGBTQ communities, or retract and apologize. Accepting your premise that a substantial pool of talent in the animation industry was soon to be coming from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen do you think there are not enough talented USA citizens to fill the positions that the non-citizens would have filled?

    • Disclosure: Canadian here. But didn’t the immigration order also block green card and visa approvals? Then of course it would affect all the foreign workers working at the animation houses on visas. And, yes, the positions can’t be filled entirely by US workers. The thing with foreign work visas, especially in our industry, is that the company legally has to demonstrate that the position can’t be filled by a local worker, whether that’s because of relevant skillset or experience. It’s the same in FX. Our animation crew at the studio i work at now is about 80% foreign, and each person is a rockstar. When you want the best, you need to cast your net worldwide.

      • aarett

        So do you think that the people that possibly won’t be allowed to work in USA will probably go to Canada (or other countries) for jobs and be willing to work for less due to more competition for those jobs and make it harder for Canadian (or other country) citizens to get those jobs?

        • That’s simplifying it a bit. People can’t just ‘go’ to other countries and take the jobs. Last I checked, people also don’t ring up companies and say, “oh, i’ll work as a senior animator, but for junior pay.” Like I said, companies have to prove they can’t fill the positions with native workers. It’s like this now, in the US. Jobs aren’t being stolen. The companies have to legally prove they can’t fill the jobs by native workers before the work visas are approved. These are experienced artists, not crop pickers in the orange fields. There’s no jobs being stolen, just jobs being filled by the most qualified candidate…

          • Karl Hungus

            So all those stories about Disney employees TRAINING the foreign workers that replaced them…. thats just made up?
            I don’t think the issue is as innocuous as you are making it out to be.
            https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html?_r=0

          • I’m really not sure that comparing 70,000 person giant companies to 200 person game and fx companies is realistic, but what I said before still holds. Senior level artistic positions can’t always be filled locally. If you have 8 people in your crew and the project is all dragons, then you need 8 very experienced people that have worked on feature quality dragons or similar experience. You can’t take the two local guys who worked on a princess cartoon.

      • Tremors

        Right….so you’re telling me in a country of somewhere around 330 million people no local talent can be found? Please. Exactly how does that work? How do you measure that?

        • It’s not a matter of there not being ANY local talent. when your recruiting pool is global, the average skill level is just higher. If a company was forced to only hire local workers, the skill level and quality will be lower right?

          To be fair, this is much more exacerbated in Canada because we have a ton of studios, and nowhere near enough experienced artists that are permanent locals. This is simply because the industry hasn’t been here long enough to naturally develop that large of a pool of talent. It’s simply not possible to fill all of the positions that require large amounts of experience locally. We have to recruit from outside the country.

      • Too Many Cooks

        Yeah. Good thing the ban’s only three months!

    • Karl Hungus

      Just today, this administration acted swiftly to further the protections of LGBTQ citizens that were introduced by the previous administration(by executive order). And yet the false narrative that those individuals are being discriminated against is STILL being peddled on the internet. Its a shameful lie.

      “An executive order protecting federal employees from anti-LGBTQ discrimination that was first signed in 2014 by President Barack Obama will continue under President Donald Trump, the White House said Tuesday.”

      “‘President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,’ the White House said in a statement. ‘The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact.’ ”

      http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/31/politics/lgbt-protections-trump-continues-obama-policy-federal-workers/

    • okiloki

      Trump may not have made antiLGBT statements but he has chosen a very anti LGBT SCOTUS and VP. And are you really holding Cartoonbrew to a higher standard than the president, who has purposefully stated so many falsehoods and who is on record making derogatory comments towards Mexicans, women, Blacks, Muslims, Chinese, and who knows what new group it’ll be next week?

  • Jett Atwood

    Has anyone actually *read* the text of the EO?

    • Too Many Cooks

      I’m glad to see I’m not the only conservative here. I wish I could say “only sane person,” but I think everyone’s losing their marbles now, including me.

  • Strong Enough

    Wow. good for them

  • Troy

    Based on this article and the initial comments, this gives a grim insight of current animation industry in the U.S. in regards to locally born and out of state artists chosen by studios. Despite stating the fairness of immigrants, the treatment of those is the complete opposite in actuality. Although I would point the finger in saying it is nothing more than a political agenda that has nothing to do with animation, it is not hard to believe the obvious value of non-U.S. workers to many studios.