Activision Blizzard’s harassment lawsuit seems painfully familiar

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It’s Activision Blizzard the latest video game company to face an investigation into the alleged nurturing of a culture of sexism. A lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Wednesday alleges widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against Activision Blizzard employees. The structures and systems highlighted in the lawsuit are painfully similar to those exposed in lawsuits and exposés in connection with the Riot Games and Ubisoft over the past few years.

The calculation of the gaming industry with workplace inequality has been going on for years. Leading companies are slow, even restrained, accountable for their allegedly discriminatory cultures, in some cases architecture asylum fortresses around its more problematic employees and systems. Activision Blizzard has the opportunity to set a different tone. For now, it seems unlikely.

The gaming industry is notoriously dominated by men and it has long had a reputation for hostility towards women. DFEH on 29 pages appeal follows a two-year investigation by Activision Blizzard – publishers like prominent titles Call of duty,, World of Warcraft, i Supervising– and contains allegations of misconduct, ranging from harassment by top executives to so-called “dice crawling”, in which male employees allegedly “drank copious amounts of alcohol as they” slipped “through various booths in the office.” “Describes a culture in which double standards prevent women from advancing and even staying in the company; on all sides, it is said, women receive lower salaries than men for “essentially similar work.” The agency states that female employees receive a lower starting salary than men and are promoted more slowly. Only 24 percent of the nearly 10,000 employees at Activision Blizzard are women, and the top management is almost entirely white and male.

In this “brother” culture, the complaint states, men “proudly” came to hangover work, delegating responsibilities to women while playing games like Call of duty, openly talked about sexual encounters and even joked about rape. The complaint also alleges that employees and even managers sexually harassed employees without consequences. It states that an employee who may have experienced sexual harassment at work – including the case when her associates in the party allegedly shared her intimate photo – later committed suicide. (In a statement, Activision Blizzard says, “We are sick of DFEH’s reprehensible behavior to draw into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose death has no bearing on this case and regardless of her grieving family.”)

“We value diversity and strive to nurture a workplace that offers inclusion for all,” said Activision spokesman Blizzard. “In our company or industry or any industry, there is no room for sexual abuse or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all allegations. In cases of misconduct, steps have been taken to address this issue. “The company says it has made efforts over the past few years to strengthen diversity, including helping employees report violations, adding a confidential hotline and setting up a team to investigate employee concerns. Activision Blizzard claims the DFEH complaint includes” distorted and in many cases false descriptions Blizzard’s past. “

DFEH seeks relief for compensatory and punitive damages, unpaid salaries and attorney’s fees. Citing an ongoing investigation, the department declined to respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

Activision Blizzard ‘s discoveries resonate with those in Riot Games in 2018. i Ubisoft in 2020. Just as toy culture in general was slowly embracing women and minorities, and gaming companies previously accused of nurturing sexist cultures were slow to develop.

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