Gaming

Riot Games co-founder flaunts flawed understanding of racism in deleted tweet

As one of the richest men in gaming, Marc Merrill would do well to watch his words.

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 10: Co-founder Riot Games, Marc Merrill looks on following the 2019 League of Legends World Championships at AccorHotels Arena on November 10, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Riot Games Inc. via Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Riot Games/Getty Images

Riot Games, creator of the hugely popular League of Legends series, has a storied history of sexual harassment allegations and overarching sexism. Co-founder Marc Merrill seeks to continue this legacy with a since-deleted tweet about his views on critical race theory as a detriment to discourse around American politics.

The tweet called critical race theory a “threat” and quoted an article by Christopher Rufo, a journalist whose work became the backbone of Donald Trump’s executive order seeking to heavily restrict federal diversity training. As this report from Kotaku points out, this view of critical race theory has rapidly become a Republican talking point — missing the purpose of critical theory entirely.

Merrill retweeted one of Rufo’s tweets and added a quote from his latest piece. “Above all, we must have courage, the fundamental virtue required in our time: courage to stand and speak the truth, courage to withstand epithets, courage to face the mob, and courage to shrug off the scorn of elites,” the since-deleted tweet read.

As the leader of one of the most profitable gaming companies in the world, Merrill’s words have weight. Seeing as he’s now deleted his tweet, it would seem he came to that realization himself. (Or, at the very least, someone in his camp warned him.)

Not a great place for nuance — Merrill’s original tweet, which has now been deleted, came across as directly supporting Rufo’s claims. He later added a second tweet clarifying that he’s “a fan of MLK’s ‘common humanity’ moral framework.”

Merrill also threaded a link to his 2019 blog post, hosted on venture capital group NaHCO3’s site, entitled “Why is America so Divided?” He says Twitter isn’t exactly the best place for discussion nuanced issues like racism — which, we’ll agree, is true enough. The post is, indeed, much more nuanced than Merrill’s tweets, with some valid criticism of corruption in the U.S. political system.

Despite that extra space for minutia, Merrill’s 2019 post still shows a fundamental failure to grasp the very real problem of racism still being felt in the United States.

Watch your words — As many have pointed out to him in tweeted replies, Merrill seems very sure of his opinions for someone with such a flawed understanding of racial justice. This isn’t exactly newsworthy on its own — plenty of people display hefty opinions like this on Twitter — but we’re talking about Marc Merrill, one of the wealthiest video game executives in the world.

Merrill’s choice to play into dominant racist talking points is concerning because of his prowess in the gaming industry and the power of his cold hard cash. Perhaps it would be in his best interest to keep his ill-read opinions off Twitter and focus on the rampant sexism allegedly at work in the company he founded.