One of the headline features in EA Sports' FIFA 17, released last month, is a new story mode called The Journey. It follows the career of fictional player Alex Hunter as he works, on the field and off, to find his place in the Premier League. During his career, he meets and interacts with fans, including one by the name of Calvin Wong, who uses the handle @CalWong on the game's very Twitter-like social network. And that didn't make the real Calvin Wong, who uses the same handle on the real-world Twitter, very happy at all.
.@EASPORTSFIFA Hey assholes, please don't use real twitter accounts in your dumb game, k thx pic.twitter.com/p5MRMcStU2October 1, 2016
It's funny at first, but the fallout for Wong has been anything but. Following his complaint, and another on October 1 asking EA to get his name out of the game, some Twitter users began accusing him of simply seeking attention—he's not a gamer, and only became aware of the use of his name when a friend sent him a screenshot—and tossing other abuse his way as well. After doggedly ignoring the situation for days, EA said it would remove his name in a patch, but in a series of more recent tweets Wong called upon it to address the situation more directly.
"Do the right thing. Admit that you did wrong. You were lazy. You exposed me to threats and racism in my life," he wrote. "To be clear, thanks for taking my name out in a future patch. But I want you to call off your dogs. Say something publicly. I know there's a PR person that has been reading every single one of these tweets. You are not doing your job."
He also called on EA to donate $1000 to Advancing Justice LA, "the nation's largest legal aid and civil rights organization serving the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community," for each racist tweet he received as a result of EA's "negligence."
.@EASPORTSFIFA @EA you guys still have not explained to me why my ACTUAL TWITTER ID @calwong is in FIFA 17. Please take it out! pic.twitter.com/tBTAVUeaKaOctober 1, 2016
Regardless of how you feel about Wong's inclusion in the game and the reactions it spurred, the fact that it happened at all is mind-boggling. How did it not occur to anyone that this might be a real name of a real person, who might not appreciate it turning up in a major, mainstream videogame?
EA told Kotaku UK that the inclusion of Wong's name and Twitter handle was a coincidence, and that it is "taking steps to remove this handle from the game and are committed to getting this resolved as soon as possible." It also apologized for the error.