Game Maker Activision Blizzard Faces #MeToo Calculation, Thousands Of Workers Protest
NEW YORK (NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG) – More than 1,500 employees of video game maker Activision Blizzard left their jobs this week. Thousands of people have signed a letter berating their employer. And even when the CEO apologized, current and former employees said they wouldn’t stop heckling.
Ms Shay Stein, who previously worked at Activision, said it was “heartbreaking”. Ms Lisa Welch, former vice-president, said she felt “deep disappointment”. Others took to Twitter or held up signs outside one of the company’s offices on Wednesday to share their anger.
Elsewhere online, fans have sought to stage a boycott of Activision games in solidarity with employees.
“You can support #ActiBlizzWalkout by not playing their titles,” wrote Twitter user Shannon. The post garnered over 2,300 retweets and over 5,000 likes. In the comments, other users suggested not to connect to or uninstall the games.
Activision, known for its hugely popular Call Of Duty, World Of Warcraft and StarCraft game franchises, has been engulfed in an uproar over behavioral issues at work.
Upheaval stems from explosive lawsuit the California Department of Employment and Fair Housing filed on July 20, accusing the $ 65 billion (S $ 88 billion) company of fostering a “work culture for boys fraternity “in which men joked about rape and women were regularly harassed and paid less than their male colleagues.
Activision publicly criticized the investigation and the agency’s two-year allegations as “irresponsible behavior by irresponsible state bureaucrats.” But his dismissive tone angered employees, who called the company for trying to brush off what they said were heinous issues that had been ignored for too long.
The intense reaction was unusual. Of all the industries that have faced accusations of sexism in recent years – including Hollywood, restaurants, and the media – the male-dominated video game industry has long been distinguished by its overtly toxic behavior and lack of change.
In 2014, feminist critics in the industry faced death threats in what became known as Gamergate. Executives of game companies Riot Games and Ubisoft have also been charged with misconduct.
Now Activision’s actions may signal a new phase, where a critical mass of the industry’s own workers indicate they will no longer tolerate such behavior.
“This could mean real responsibility for companies that fail to take care of their workers and create inequitable working environments where women and gender minorities are left out and abused,” said Associate Professor Carly Kocurek from the Illinois Institute of Technology which studies the genre in games.
She said the California lawsuit and Activision fallout were a “big deal” for an industry that had traditionally ignored allegations of sexism and harassment. Other game companies are most likely monitoring the situation, she added, and are wondering if they need to address their own cultures.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick apologized to employees on Tuesday, saying the answers to the lawsuit were “muted” and that a law firm would investigate the company’s policies.
Activision, based in Santa Monica, Calif., Said in a statement for this article that it is committed “to lasting change, to listening and to continuing the important work of creating a safe and inclusive workplace that we can all be proud “.
In interviews, seven current and former Activision employees said blatant behavior had taken place in the company, both above and below the hierarchy, for years. Three current employees declined to be appointed for fear of reprisal. Their accounts of what happened at work largely match what is on display in the state lawsuit.
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