I know I’ve already posted today, but this is a post I wanted to make because of its impact not only on gaming but also on the lives of people who work within the industry. Because I stay on top of gaming news, I’ve been well aware of the recent civil lawsuit that the state of California has recently filed against Activision Blizzard. The suit alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and infractions against California’s equal pay law. Being that Activision Blizzard’s corporate headquarters reside in Santa Monica, California, that is part of the reason for the state’s involvement. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the specific organization responsible for the filing after an investigation that lasted for two years. YouTuber YongYea has a detailed breakdown of this story in the video above and you can read the official news release from the DFEH by CLICKING HERE.
I make it a rule for myself to always refrain from immediately taking a side when I hear of things like this and wait to see what the other side has to say. Activision Blizzard has taken the stance of labeling the DFEH as “irresponsible” and its descriptions of the gaming company as being “distorted” and “false.” The organization responsible for publishing Call of Duty Warzone and World of Warcraft has also claimed that it has tried to work and be as cooperative as possible with the DFEH throughout the investigation. You can read Activision Blizzard’s statement below, courtesy of Kotaku, and separated into two parts.
Here’s where it already doesn’t look good for Activision Blizzard; the admission that the company has had to make significant changes in the past several years. So then the question has to be why was the workplace was ever allowed to be in such a state in the first place? And while the company may project to others that it has done everything in its power to improve the work environment, what do the workers themselves have to say? This is where it gets really interesting.
Not only have former employees spoke out against Activision Blizzard, current employees have also voiced their displeasure at the company’s response to the allegations. This is where it really looks bad for the gaming publisher because the voice of the workers will always carry a lot of weight. Not to mention a story published by Bloomberg about wage disparities just a year ago. Now, just because someone is a worker doesn’t mean that what he/she says is automatically true. But when you have both current and former workers speaking out against the company and confirming that the allegations that are part of a lawsuit have taken place, that’s a major consideration. In no way am I pretending to know anywhere close to everything about this. But the fact that you have the state government getting involved along with so many workers confirming the same workplace issues speaks volumes.
My heart goes out to all of the victims who have suffered terrible atrocities while working for the company. They are the main reason why I am posting on this topic. I’m always grateful for the work that goes into creating video games and the people who do it. The idea that some of the same people who are responsible for my gaming happiness work within such conditions is a tragedy. Nobody should ever have to go to work and deal with such conditions. When I first started researching this information, my mind went back to the workplace issues that become very public with Ubisoft. This is now two major gaming publishers I’ve come across that have a variety of workplace issues that stem from leadership not taking work culture as seriously as it should. Doing any type of search on sexual harassment with some other major publishers will show that it is unfortunately nothing new. But it needs to be addressed.
I’m putting this out there for information purposes. But what do you all think of this? I expect this lawsuit and the fallout from it will motivate more victims to come forward and share their stories. Hopefully, some real action will start taking place within some of these gaming companies to make it a safer environment for employees. There’s a lot of work to be done and there needs to be much more accountability.
UPDATE: Blizzard Co-Founder and former CEO Mike Morhaime offered an apology to victims on Twiiter, which only further substantiates the toxic work environment within the company. I came across the Game Informer articles just minutes after publishing this post.