Earlier this week, news broke that Nintendo contract worker Jessica Zenner was fired for keeping a blog called “Inexcusable Behavior” where she made comments about herself (using the name Jessica Carr) and various co-workers (who were not named).
Jessica considered the blog to be entertainment, but Nintendo took offense and fired her. Jessica has since announced that she will be contributing articles to Ripten.com, and here for the first time is Jessica’s side of the story in her own words.
Q: What are your feelings on the video game industry currently?
A: My take on video games is a dismal one. Computer and video games have been the subject of controversy and censorship, due to the depiction of graphic violence, sexual themes, consumption of illegal drugs, consumption of alcohol or tobacco, or profanity in some games. I believe that generally speaking, gamers have sadly taken on some of the traits that are portrayed in fictional games.
With that being said, there is a lot of good that is coming out of the gaming industry, like the Nintendo Wii and their DS game Brain Age. Wow, Nintendo can make people smarter and more physically fit! They are breaking new ground. Actually, in all seriousness, I do enjoy video games, but I do believe that there should be a delicate balance when it comes to the time played.
Q: What was the nature of your job at Nintendo?
A: I work in the staffing industry, more specifically in the Enterprise Software world. Nintendo was actually the first gaming company that I’ve ever recruited for, and they brought me on as a Technical Recruiter. From a recruiting standpoint, recruiting in the gaming domain space is a completely different animal from the Enterprise and/ or Proprietary Software world. For one, I’ve found that the majority of gaming companies are running their internal IS departments with open source technology, and we all know why that is.
Q: Why’s that?
A: Linux is freely-distributable open source operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms. Because it’s free, and because it runs on many platforms, including PCs and Macintoshes, Linux has become an extremely popular alternative to proprietary operating systems. The reason why it’s become a popular alternative for major gaming companies is because, in my opinion, of their competitors.
Generically, any database management system that can respond to queries from client machines formatted in the SQL language would be categorized as a SQL Server. When capitalized, the term generally refers to either of two database management products from Sybase and Microsoft. Both companies offer client-server DBMS products called SQL Server. Do you think that Nintendo would want to support a competitor? An extremely large number of companies that I’ve worked with are running everything on a Microsoft platform, and are using Microsoft SQL Server.
Q: So Nintendo doesn’t want to use any Microsoft products in-house?
A: I’m not going to say that, but you do the math.
Q: Did any of your colleagues at Nintendo know about the Inexcusable Behavior blog early on?
A: I had one friend, whom I still consider a friend, and I am 100% positive that he/she didn’t leak it. To clear the air, I never logged on to my blog or checked my personal email at work. To be honest, I have no clue how they found my blog. When I asked how they found my blog, they responded with “that doesn’t matter”.
Q: Did Nintendo make any effort to shut down the website, or give you any warning, before they fired you?
A: No. They called me on my way to work to tell me that I was fired. I had no clue that they were snooping around the Internet looking for a reason to fire me. Ironically, about a week prior, I was commended for a job well done on a specific project.
To be honest, I wasn’t talking about my boss. I was very disappointed to hear that she thought I was talking about her. I really enjoyed my boss, and she is a very pleasant person. It’s a shame that she had to fire me in the way she did, otherwise I might have had the opportunity to explain that I wasn’t talking about her.
Q: Do you believe that blogs should be considered protected speech?
A: Yes. In my case, 85% of what I said on my blog was exaggerated for entertainment purposes. For all they know, I could be leaking chapters out of a new book, a book that is written in a first person, diary voice. With that being said, even if [the blog] was true, it never would have any effect on Nintendo.
Q: If you had told them it was fiction, would they still be able to fire you for keeping the blog?
A: I don’t know… I wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise. Seriously, by reading my blog would you think I would work at a gaming company? Of all places to guess where I work, do you think my readers would say, “Ah ha, she works at NINTENDO!”
Q: You didn’t mention Nintendo by name?
A: No, of course not. As a matter of fact, not all of the content that was written was drawn off experience at Nintendo. Maybe a sliver was.
Q: Does Nintendo have a company policy on personal blogs?
A: No, but according to the PR rep they do. I was never aware of it until after the fact. If there was a company policy in place, I would have never accepted a job there.
I am not going to sit here and act like some of the stuff I wrote wasn’t inflammatory. But there wasn’t any proof in the pudding of me supposedly referring to Nintendo. If there was, that would be a completely different story.
Q: Do they claim the right to determine what is and is not acceptable blogging?
A: I don’t know, to be honest. Lately, I’ve heard some rumors of them instating some sort of blog policy. I guess I’m the poster child for that one.
Q: Could you have made your blog private, for friends only? Or did you want to allow a wider audience for your blogging?
A: I never thought that there would be a reason to make it private. I didn’t expect for someone to go searching for it. [Microsoft Live] Spaces doesn’t have a robust searching feature. You would literally have to know someone’s name or URL to find them.
Q: Is Nintendo trying to be outwardly “family friendly”?
A: You know, I don’t think that Nintendo wants the same audience as Microsoft or Sony. I get that they are marketing to children. The majority of their games are E or T. Their consoles are extremely user friendly, and technically speaking are extremely elementary compared to Sony.
Xbox may have had the recall, yes, but they make a pretty good product. I gotta admit, I like Halo, and Madden.
Q: So is Nintendo’s corporate culture sort of “E for Everyone” also?
A: I think that would be safe to say. In my opinion, I think that they are a generation or two behind Microsoft’s corporate culture.
Q: What are your career goals following your departure from Nintendo?
A: I want to write. I enjoy dabbling in online media.