‘Love Island: The Game’ reportedly delayed – developer accused of sexism by staff

Staff were upset with how another Fusebox game fetishised bisexual themes

Fusebox Games, the developer behind Love Island: The Game, has been accused of sexism and fetishising bisexual experiences by staff.

According to a report by The Independent, Love Island: The Game’s new content has been indefinitely delayed amidst the accusations, which include complaints of a toxic workplace and sexist content. Dozens of staff are also supposedly at risk of losing their jobs after raising complaints about how the developer Fuse Box Games treated LGBT+ themes in another one of its games.

Love Island: The Game follows the TV show, releasing a new season of content to coincide with each new season. Fusebox Games has delayed the fourth season of the game, which was supposed to start with the latest season of Love Island at the end of June. The game follows the same format as the TV show, allowing players to take the role of one of several contestants on the show who take part in short, fictional stories.

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Staff at Fusebox Games were critical of the developer for how it handled a bisexual storyline in another one of its titles called Matchmaker: Puzzles and Stories. A third-party company wrote a specific storyline focused around a divorced female character who meets a “handsome” man who is perhaps “maybe too young” but who still speaks to the character.

The player character reportedly pretends to be bisexual in order to seem more interesting. The younger male character takes the player’s drink without their consent, and will only return it when the player kisses him. Matchmaker: Puzzles and Stories provided no opportunity to avoid the kiss, which staff felt fetishised those who identify as bisexual.

This storyline caused distress amongst several staff members, who raised their objections to senior management. Staff were told that concerns had been noted and that the storyline would be removed. However, the storyline remained available in the international version of the game.

This development pushed staff to send an open letter in May, which was signed by 31 members of Fusebox Games. One member of staff told The Independent: “This is what upsets me, and just made me cry. I feel so used and hurt. I feel like I put so much love and effort into something and I’m not getting the bare minimum of respect as a worker [that] I should deserve.”

Fusebox Games provided a statement for The Independent, which said that that content in its games are “naturally a subjective area.” The statement also added that its “games reflect the stories that are often shared in the reality shows that we work with, and as such, delivering content enjoyed by players of the game, and fans of the show alike”.

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Three weeks after the staff sent the open letter, they were told that their jobs were at risk because the company was performing poorly financially. Staff were also informed that Fusebox Games would place Love Island: The Game in ‘Sunset Mode’, a term typically used to describe a game as being indefinitely delayed.

Fusebox Games has publicly stated the opposite, announcing that the game would launch later this year, and that it is “currently in development to ensure it meets the high standards of the previous seasons.”

Critics and fans have also accused the Love Island TV show of being problematic in the past, with accusations of slut-shaming, poor aftercare for contestants and instances of gaslighting by contestants. The show has also been criticised for its lack of diversity with poor LGTBQ+ representation and a lack of race diversity.

Elsewhere, WWE revealed the latest trailer for WWE 2K22 during SummerSlam 2021 last night. The new footage shows off several stars, and also revealed a March 2021 release window for the title.

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