Content warning: this article contains explicit references to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and suicide.
UPDATE [26/07 15:29] (Joshua Boyles): Ex-Blizzard executives, Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime have now issued responses to the allegations made by the state of California.
Metzen was previously the Senior Vice President of Blizzard Entertainment, while Morhaime was a co-founder and former CEO of the company. Both issued statements on Twitter in wake of the allegations of ‘frat boy’ culture that apparently perpetuates the studio.
Metzen begins his statement by saying: “We failed, and I’m sorry.
“To all of you at blizzard – those of you I know and those of you whom I’ve never met – I offer you my very deepest apologies for the part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference.”
Morhaime writes that he felt “ashamed” while reading through the complaint documents, saying that it “feels like everything [he] thought [he] stood for has been washed away”. He says that in his 28 year tenure at Blizzard Entertainment, he strived to create an inclusive environment that was safe for “all genders and backgrounds.”
Both former executives claim that they were none the wiser to the abuse that’s alleged to have taken place inside the studio while they worked there.
The lawsuit resulted from a two-year enquiry that found that the company had discriminated against its female employees. The publisher was also accused of maintaining a “frat boy” culture of sexual harassment and unequal pay.
According to the complaint, male employees would regularly participate in “cube crawls“. This apparently involved drinking “copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behaviour toward female employees.”
The complaint also specifies that male employees would delegate work to their female colleagues while playing video games. Members of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft team also reportedly made rape jokes and engaged in demeaning behaviour.
The lawsuit points out that a female Activision employee tragically took her own life during a trip with a male supervisor. According to the report, nude photos of the employee were circulated around the company before her death.
Activision Blizzard’s response to the Lawsuit
In response to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard retaliated against the state’s claims while insisting that they take misconduct and harassment seriously:
“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”
“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,”
Since the lawsuit was made public, various ex-Activision Blizzard employees have backed up the claims. The former employees have also shared their own experiences of harassment while working at the publisher. While Activision Blizzard has insisted that “The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today,” the DFEH has demanded a trial by jury.
All information belonging to the Activision Blizzard lawsuit can be found within the DFEH’s filed complaint.
Featured Image: Activision Blizzard