An anonymous source within the company alleges the company is filled with a toxic culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The source, who spoke to Kotaku , says that a culture of harassment permeates throughout Blizzard’s leadership, affecting every aspect of the company from the highest-paid executives to the lowest-paid employees. In other words, the entire company is riddled with harassment and discrimination, and Blizzard needs to address this problem otherwise the company will never be able to attract the best candidates.
Blizzards recent mass staff firing serves as a glimpse into the company’s dark past of sexism and harassment. It reeks of a publisher and company that is only concerned with profits and not in satisfying the needs of their customers or their employees.
The gaming industry is a male-dominated one. It’s not very difficult to find a woman in a casual game developer, but it’s not all that common to find a woman in a large gaming company. But that doesn’t mean that women are ill-represented at Blizzard. Polygon received an email from a current employee at Blizzard who says that the company is still actively discriminating against women, and that this discrimination has been going on for years.. Read more about gender harassment and let us know what you think.
Another piece on the ongoing Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination scandal has been published by Bloomberg, this time interviewing “more than 50 current and former employees” at the company and beginning with the story behind the 2018 departure of CTO Ben Kilgore, Mike Morhaime’s then-“heir apparent.” When Kilgore’s replacement was asked what happened, he apparently told employees, “Don’t sleeve.” But if you’re going to sleep with your assistant, don’t stop.” Needless to say, rumors about Kilgore and company assistants arose quickly, fueled by the fact that he was mentioned (by title) in the California lawsuit filed in July – a lawsuit that Activision reps claim is full of inaccurate and out-of-date information, but doesn’t appear to be.
The rest of the article will sadly sound very familiar to anyone following the scandal; it describes women being “accosted for dates,” groped at office parties, “subjected to alcohol-fueled hazing rituals,” “watching male colleagues use company events as a venue to solicit sex,” and “watching male colleagues use company events as a venue to solicit sex,” all of which went unaddressed when reported to HR.” Multiple executives, including Mike Morhaime, J. Allen Brack, and Frank Pearce, dated or married subordinates within the business, setting an uncomfortable precedent for everyone else, according to author Jason Schreier. (Chris Metzen isn’t named, although he’s in that group as well.)
Employee interviews indicate that Morhaime was well-liked inside the business, but that his “warm leadership style” might be a blind spot because he was “shielded from misbehavior or that he gave offenders the benefit of the doubt, extended them too many opportunities, or allowed them walk over him.”
The article also focuses on the egotism and machismo that pervaded Blizzard culture in the aughts, leading some male developers to see themselves as rockstars — along with all the benefits that implies. Of course, there’s the long-running dispute inside the business over pay and how much power Activision has.
“Activision is referred to by some Blizzard employees as the Eye of Sauron. With budget cutbacks approaching, each department’s administrators have been jockeying for resources. As a consequence, some workers are hesitant to disclose internal issues for fear of attracting unwelcome attention from corporate superiors, according to current employees.”
In the financial report from earlier this week, we have a comprehensive summary of the controversy, or you may go through all of our coverage thus far piece by piece:
• Activision-Blizzard sexism crisis day 17: More esports sponsors contemplate leaving Overwatch League • New exposé exposes even more levels of sexual harassment and discrimination at Blizzard Blizzard may live on, but it will never be Blizzard again, according to the patch notes. • Q2 2021: Activision sales are up, Blizzard MAUs are down amid sexism controversy • Activision-Blizzard Day 14: Brack and Meschuk departures, fraud lawsuit, proto-union, and Q2 financials By not working at Blizzard, the gamer in the notorious BlizzCon video claims she “dodged a bullet.” J. Allen Brack, the CEO of Blizzard, is stepping down ahead of today’s investor call. Jeff Strain, a former co-founder of ArenaNet, has called for gaming developers to form a union. • Has Blizzard’s sexism lawsuit altered your gaming plans? • Massively Overthinking: Has Blizzard’s sexism lawsuit changed your gaming plans? • The WoW Factor: What makes this new Blizzard controversy stand out? • • Activision-Blizzard walkout organizers react to Kotick, Kotaku exposes attendees of the ‘Cosby suite’ • Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick: ‘The leadership team has heard you loud and clear’ • Massively OP Podcast Episode 332: Does every voice truly count at Blizzard? • Blizzard employees plan a strike over a sexism issue, and the World of Warcraft team addresses the playerbase • Blizzard’s sexism controversy continues, with 2500 developers signing a petition criticizing Acti-reaction Blizzard’s • MMO Week in Review: RIP to the Blizzard you thought you knew Blizzard’s culture of “abuse, inequity, and apathy” has been apologized for by Chris Metzen. ‘I am very sorry that I failed you,’ Mike Morhaime says to female Blizzard employees. The World of Warcraft Factor: No monarch can reign forever Activision pushes down on deflection as J Allen Brack confronts Blizzard employees over sexism controversy Furious World of Warcraft gamers conduct a protest against Activision Blizzard • California has filed a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard for discrimination and a misogynistic, poisonous workplace atmosphere.
The nightmare continues: WAPO has a new exposé up featuring interviews with Blizzard employees. HR is also not portrayed well in this study. One employee said, “They were almost like a gang that would destroy your career if you reported specific people.”
“‘Blizzard had this promise,’ said one former male employee who held a senior leadership role, ‘of this very enjoyable company to work in, and you’re working on some of the world’s greatest games, and you’ve got this incredibly creative group of individuals.’ ‘But underneath it all was this unsaid aspect of the business, that there were all these terrible things going on that were either pushed under the rug or disregarded.’ And I believe a lot of people are trying to make sense of it.’
Senior employees Alex Afrasiabi, Ben Kilgore, and Tyler Rosen are all mentioned in the article as having been fired for their conduct in the past several years. Rosen hasn’t made much of an appearance, but he did reply to WAPO’s request for comment in response to the report that he and four other employees shared a hotel room at an industry convention in 2014; one of the staffers was a woman who accused him of sexual assault. He now admits, “I was a part of the issue that affects Blizzard and the broader game business.” “I received a final warning [in 2016] for an event in 2014, and I was dismissed in 2018 for causing another incidence of damage and violation. As a matter of policy, Blizzard could not discuss my departure, so I left discreetly, which helped me escape public responsibility, maintained the culture of silence, and minimized the suffering of survivors.”
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
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- how might someone be sexually harassed
- history of harassment laws