Former Evolve Community Manager Shares His Side of the Story

Josh Olin recalls the events surrounding his termination from Turtle Rock Studios in 2014.

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Josh Olin, who was terminated from his post as community manager of Left 4 Dead and Evolve developer Turtle Rock Studios last year in the wake of his comments about Donald Sterling, has now shared his side of the story. Olin, who also previously worked on franchises like Call of Duty and League of Legends and is now a VP at 3D Realms, was the guest on a recent installment of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

You can watch the entire two-hour video above, but note that it's full of strong language.

In the video, starting at 8:20, Olin recalls the day he was axed from Turtle Rock. He says he woke up at around 9 AM the day after tweeting about Sterling and found a text from a friend and colleague informing him that his tweets, in which he called Sterling a "victim," were generating news stories. He says he didn't think much of it and got in the shower to prepare for work. When he got out of the shower, Olin had even more text messages, including one from the general manager of Turtle Rock, who Olin says informed him that he needed to go "radio dark" on social media.

"45 minutes later, I still haven't left to go to the studio yet, my email stops working. I'm not stupid, they literally just shut off my email," Olin said. "So I tried calling [the Turtle Rock GM] and he didn't take my call. An hour later, he's like, 'We should probably meet at the Starbucks around the corner.' And I was like, 'What?!, you don't even want me to come in the office and talk about this? You don't want to hear my side of it? You don't want to see what's what? It's just done?'"

After this, Turtle Rock released their statement, confirming Olin's departure. Olin said this statement was "literally putting the match to the kerosene" and propelled the controversy further. "When they fired me, it turned into this huge thing in the gaming industry around 'was that right?' 'was that wrong?'" he said.

"The comments made by our former community manager stand in stark contrast to our values as a game development studio," Turtle Rock said on Twitter at the time. "We sincerely apologize for his remarks and in no way endorse or support those views."

For his part, Olin said at the time: "Anyone who follows me knows my tweets were not in support of Sterling's actions. Rather, they were promoting three core tenets I believe in: 1) The harm sensational media presents to society. 2) The importance and sanctity of your privacy within your own home. And 3) The right to be whatever you want to be as an American, as long as it isn't hurting anyone else. That last point not to be confused with condoning Sterling's actions, which I don't."

Be sure to watch the full segment to hear everything Olin has to say. He also talks about 3D Realms' upcoming game Bombshell and other industry topics.

GameSpot has followed up with 2K Games, publisher of Evolve, to see if 2K/Turtle Rock has a response to Olin's comments. We'll update this post with anything we hear back.

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Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

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Who the f is Donald Sterling?

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Kunakai

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Yeah. I don't think I'd want a dude who couldn't manage his own mouth managing my community either.

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Elemental_Jack

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@Kunakai: What do you mean manager his mouth? What did he say was so bad?

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Deadlysyns87

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Edited By Deadlysyns87

You do know you can say something racist without being racist right. I can say something horrible about Black people that some might consider Racist but it doesn't mean i am one. For example if you are upset at a Black person and use a racist term to describe them it doesn't mean you are racist you just said a racist thing in Anger.

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lsdbaby

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@Deadlysyns87 "It's not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me" - Batman

Act like a racist and you are a racist. Batman said it so it must be true.

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DGriffy

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@Deadlysyns87: Does that matter? Isn't the important thing whether or not our actions fit racist patterns, rather than pseudo-psychological notions of whether or not somebody is really 'a racist'?

An institution or society can, in principle, be racist without any individual member of that group being racist themselves (unless one views being in a racist organisation as a racist act I suppose). I think one misses a lot if one views racism through a lens of intent and internal psychological processes.

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Pliger

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Edited By Pliger

@dgriffy: Actually, it does. I think you attribute pseudo-psychology to the wrong part of this, it's really the other way around. We as human individuals can do no more than avow and vote for progressive policies and solutions. We can speak up and fight against obvious racism, but we cannot live under the eternal specter of worrying everything we say or do could be construed as racist or rub someone the wrong way. And as it's been pointed out in this thread already, such is not even the thrust of recent controversies.

White men are much more likely than black men to have been sexually abused as children, including incidents involving the Catholic Church. Does that mean it would make sense for these people to get in black people's faces and demand they focus on THEM before all else? They have suffered what society considers the ultimate trauma, after all. Should they be allowed or excused then if they literally try to hijack some black political candidate's rally/event to talk about child sex abuse and prosecuting child-preying bishops?

No, of course not. We intuitively know it makes no sense to approach life this way, glorifying your own hardships and holding them over others' heads in an insane, completely non-constructive way. Yet that's what certain movements in the culture have been doing, mindlessly.

Why didn't Dr. King obsess on "white privilege" during the Civil Rights movement, a time when it was so much more glaring and tangible? Did whites who joined him and their black brothers and sisters in the movement do so out of self-reproach for being white, or was it explicitly to raise blacks up and rectify clear injustices done to them? Why wasn't Gandhi's tactic to talk down the perceived privilege of others, instead of always espousing love and empathy?

Because crying "victim" is and always has been an inherently more mean and pathetic act than pushing affirmatively for known injustices to be rectified and advocating empathy. A dumb hick or crusty billionaire calling someone a racial slur is not something all whites can take responsibility for. Remember, racism is bad. So why would you reinforce the divisions and say we should keep it on our minds always? There can be no better aim than to, as individuals, aspire to respect and compassion for all peoples. And where there is obvious, irrefutable inequity, we act to efface that. But we shouldn't confuse these phenomena with the rampant fabrications of narcissistic social media babies who will look anywhere for a pretense to exalt themselves and their supposed oppression by what they saw on cable last night.

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jinzo9988

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Edited By jinzo9988

Social media strikes again. The funny thing is Olin got a similar taste of what Donald got. Sure, Olin utilized social media while Donald was ruined for having an unpopular opinion in his own home in private, but they both had an unpopular opinion, they both had that opinion get out to their employers, and they were both fired and disowned for it.

The moral of the story? You're not allowed to have an opinion unless it's the correct one. Sure sounds like freedom to me.

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acefondu

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@jinzo9988: It wasn't even an unpopular opinion sadly. He was just rephrasing the old adage: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That's really all it was and he got canned for it.

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Ov3r_Kill_Br0ny

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Anyone who takes anything from social media seriously needs some serious help. I feel bad for him.

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hystavito

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"The harm sensational media presents to society."
I think this is a very important thing. In some ways social media has been good at giving a voice to people who in the past would have none. There are people, or groups of people who in the past were, persecuted maybe we could call it, and now they have more support. The problem is that I believe often these people go too far. It's like the uncool people have turned the tables on the cool people, but then they take it to the extreme and commit the same offences, kinda becoming the new cool people and just starting the cycle again except from the other side. I don't think that's what this supposedly new world of acceptance is supposed to be about. I admit it's hard to avoid the desire to put your former torturers, so to speak, through the same torture they put you through, but if it was wrong before why is it right now?

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

@hystavito:

Social media has givin a voice to the people you say? lol no only helped to channel popular discontent into frivolous superficial directions where people think writing a tweet is a revolutionary act or getting a digital thumbs up is making a difference.

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Adam802

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Well, I guess it worked out for them. Evolve was a huge success in the end.

Oh wait.

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ToadstoolPeach

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Edited By ToadstoolPeach

What Sterling said was bigoted but it should have been stricken from the record. The person who recorded his exchange violated his rights and should suffer consequences for that.

Unfortunately we live in an era where both privacy and freedom of speech are in jeopardy thanks to social media, because speaking your mind can reflect upon your job and those you associate with. Big brother is watching, and it isn't just the government, it's nearly everyone.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

You're a community manager, the gaming equivalent of a janitor. You don't get the benefit of the doubt when you defend a racist piece of trash like Sterling, they can find a thousand more janitors like you who'll do the job without your social media head aches making them look bad.

If this guy understood "The harm sensational media presents to society" then HE WOULDN'T BE USING IT. If this guy was smart, he'd know you don't make complicated arguments in Twitter length messages.

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AyatollaofRnR

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Even Noble prize winning scientists aren't safe from the wrath of social media.

Higher up is companies think its better to ruin someones life for PR over a social media shitstorm that everyone would forget about within a week.

Its madness.

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BeantownSean

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Edited By BeantownSean

I see no value in someone purposely injecting themselves into controversy when they have absolutely nothing to gain, but everything to loose.

There's a price for free-speech, they both paid it.

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Richardthe3rd

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Speaking the "truth" when you're in the public eye is a dangerous habit.

I think it's mildly amusing that he was surprised by his employers decision to terminate.

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mrbojangles25

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That's sort of ironic; he claims to be supportive of people's right to say whatever they want in their own home, but then writes something literally anyone in the world can read--not exactly limited to his home--and is fired for it.

Should have followed his own advice...

Anyway, I don't blame them for firing him. The guy was in charge of publicity and promoting their brand, and did something counter-intuitive to that.

Still, it's tough, I can definitely empathize with his "I don't like what you say but will support your right to say it" philosophy.

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

@mrbojangles25:

What is ironic is that we call ourselves free but can lose your job or get crucified by the media for expressing any opinion outside of what is the "politically correct" i.e. views that contradict the establishment.

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Thanatos2k

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@whirlwind12: When your job is literally to represent a company, you don't get free speech. Or rather, you do, but don't be surprised when you're fired for saying the first thing controversial.

You'd think a community manager would know their own job description, but I guess not!

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mrbojangles25

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@whirlwind12: I think people forget that nothing is free

you are free to say what you want*, and the government cannot persecute you for it. That's where it ends, however, because in your displays and abuses of freedoms, other's can hold you accountable.

So yes, you are free to say what you want, and companies are free to let you go if they disagree with you.

THat's the problem with this country; everyone thinks we are free to do what we want, and they abuse this power simply for the sake of making idiotic points. It is frustrating to see these abuses, because people tend to forget about moderation, respect, and decency while trying to make their points.

Reign it in, be courteous, and indulge occasionally but not often.

*for the most part

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DrizzyGadget

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Edited By DrizzyGadget

@mrbojangles25: You're an idiot. The whole point of free speech is to be free of persecution. Go to the UK with that free speech isn't free shit

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Matty_H2O

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@drizzygadget:

Everyone knows it costs a buck o'five.

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Robertand71

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@drizzygadget: We don't have freedom of speech in the UK.

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

@robertand71:

lol yeah the UK has freedom of speech as long as it's not the illegal type of speech

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

@mrbojangles25:

Spoken like a true sheep, be free but not too free. pathetic

No the government has the duty to protect your rights both from the government itself and all those who would violate them if it does not it is not worthy to govern because you are right about freedom not being free it must be protected and fought for, the problem is the govenrment is ruled by corporate money and he was not on the "politically correct" side.

He should be able to sue the media for defamation of name and character and his former employer for violating his civil rights.

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Thanatos2k

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@whirlwind12: Your right to free speech is only related to the government. You cannot be arrested. And that's as far as it goes. That's as far as it has EVER gone.

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

@Thanatos2k:

Well that is not true you should study history a little more. Violating someone's rights is a civil matter even though it may also at times involve criminal, in this case it's called wrongful termination as in wrongful termination from employment for a legal and reasonable exercise of his civil rights outside of work.

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Thanatos2k

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@whirlwind12: "Violating someone's rights"

No one's rights were violated.

"in this case it's called wrongful termination"

At will state, they can terminate you for almost any reason. He was not terminated because of his gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. "Supporting Donald Sterling" is not a protected class, sorry.

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mrbojangles25

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@whirlwind12:If moderation and flexible thinking makes me a sheep, then BAHHHHHHH says I.

I am not a fan as you are of black and white thinking and extremes. I don't think this is a situation of "either/or", or a good place to put your libertarian line of thinking.

Let's think of it this way:

Guy screams from the mountaintop of the internet that he supports bigotry, or at the very least, a person's right to be a bigot. The public doesn't like this, stop buying the companies product (oh yeah, the loudmouth used a company account, whoops), and the company goes out of business.

In short, some loudmouth ruins a company and the livelihood of hundreds of people because this is Amurrrica and we make points simply for the sake of making points.

Obviously this is the worst-case example, but it is why companies fire disagreeable loudmouths; because it is in everyone's best interest. What you say actually has real-world consequences for both you and the people/places you associate with.

So yes, you are free to say what you want, but you are not free from the consequences, especially concerning the opinions of those around you, the company you work for, and so forth.

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whirlwind12

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@mrbojangles25:

So if your boss fired you over who you voted for or because you own a firearm you would have no problem with that?

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Die_Bahn

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@whirlwind12: I lol'd at your comment.

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whirlwind12

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Edited By whirlwind12

Another witch hunt and another victim of orwellian society. The only "problem" here is that he spoke the truth. Boycott Turtle Rock.

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AyatollaofRnR

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@whirlwind12: Between that and thier DLC shitshow with Evolve I can't see myself supporting them anytime soon.

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mersmackmaster

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Maybe he got fired because he doesn't go in to work until 10am?

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DrizzyGadget

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What he said was correct, I regularly listen to the Joe Rogan podcast and the way people overreact to little shit is upsetting and very childish. You would think everyone is a baby afraid to get their feelings hurt.

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Daian

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I had forgotten what he did. Yep, he's a moron, he publicly called a raging racist a victim. I don't feel remotely bad for him.

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DrizzyGadget

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Edited By DrizzyGadget

@Daian: You obviously have no nuance to your way of thought. Yes what Sterling said was offensive but he was in the privacy of his own home. The FBI can't illegally tape you in your house and then release it for everyone to critique your private thoughts that you have in the privacy of your house. There's two sides

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Thanatos2k

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@drizzygadget: He REQUESTED the woman to tape what he said, because he was worried he was getting forgetful.

He was not illegally taped. He got what he deserved. If you don't want it to get out that you're a racist, don't say or do racist things ANYWHERE.

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Die_Bahn

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Edited By Die_Bahn

@drizzygadget: "Yes, it was offensive, BUT" So, the girlfriend recording him lets him off the hook for being a racist?

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Kiaininja

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It's simply BS that these companies put more strictness towards social media and political correctness than to making a full quality game. I used to remember when it was the quality of the game that represented the company's dedication and respect towards its customers. Just stop wasting resources on the useless PR department and put it back into Q&A.

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lrdfancypants

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Ah, the dreaded context hyperlink.

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elheber

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When you're hired to speak for and represent a company, you have a responsibility to watch what you say. It's public relations. What do you expect?
As for how he got fired --not even getting a chance to defend himself-- that seems pretty poorly done.

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yankblan

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I was all about burning Sterling at the stake when it came out, but it took a comedian (Bill Burr) to put things in perspective. Was he an old racist scumbag who deserved to lose his team (rather the fans deserved a better owner) for a variety of reasons? Absolutely. But the way it happened (invasion of privacy, basically) is frightening.

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ender003

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@yankblan: Bill Burr's take on it was hilarious.

"What did you think he thought?!"

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