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#8 - What the f**k, Blizzard?!

Games, Politics & Labor
Activision Blizzard is facing a huge lawsuit, after a two-year investigation by California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. They are accused of frat boy workplace culture.

Last Wednesday, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard, the company behind the colossal Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch after a two-years long investigation. This has been an on-going investigation which revealed discriminatory behavior inside the company, sexist and racist practices in terms of hiring, advancement.
The investigation has collected enough evidence making a very strong case against Activision Blizzard for closing its eyes when such practices were happening right inside the company. Having read multiple stories from the press, from the Tweets of former and current employees, I wonder more than ever, if the company tolerated such behaviors as long as games were coming out. If the money was entering their banks, then some groping, racist jokes and overall toxic behavior maybe didn’t look like a big issue to them.
Since the scandal standard, some key people in the company either condemned the actions, while some said that the company could have done better. Some have invoked not being aware of it, saying that they are incredibly sorry for what was happening. Apart from those excuses, the company hired an union-busting firm.
Wherever there is fear of employees taking power, the companies will do anything that is in their power to stop it. The employees also planned a walkout, and I salute their dissent. I hope they will go further with the unionization and not stop at just the walkout. The walkout can be an important firs step in getting more collective power and even a collective bargaining contract. HR firms won’t solve the issues, but in the long-term they will still serve the employers. An union can save them.
I provide you with a summary of the articles in the press about the conflicts at Activision Blizzard.
🌨 Activision Blizzard Sued by California Over Widespread Harassment of Women
Not only there is a lack of leadership roles at the company, but there is a slower promotion of women, and also a quicker termination of their contracts. Asides from that, if pregnant, they had to deal with negative comments from their superiors, and supervisors even gave them negative evaluations while being on maternity leave. Some of the women who commented on the issue were criticized for leaving to pick up their children from daycare, from going on walks, when their male co-workers were playing video games.
In the office, women are subjected to “cube crawls” in which male employees drink copious [amounts] of alcohol as they “crawl” their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees. Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies and joke about rape.
The work-culture not only prevented women from advancing, but encouraged as certain predatory mindset which materialized in the workers playing certain games, such as the cube crawls. Additionally, negative comments targeting women or jokes who were targeting women or about topics which might make some sensitive.
Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over Widespread Harassment Of Women
☠️ Gamers really are over - Colin Campbell
While the Activision Blizzard scandal is unfolding, Colin is talking to his child who says “I’m a gamer.”
But when he says “I’m a gamer” he uses an exaggerated, mocking voice that conjures gate-keeping males with low levels of social skills; the kind of person likely to get crazy mad about, say, a Black woman starring as the main character in a new blockbuster.
The stereotypical gamer has been a person who often engages in toxic behavior, is ready to scream at their teammates when they do not perform and to laugh at topics, such as racism, sexual harassment, sexism. The image of the gamer has been a topic on which companies have capitalized on the past, and which others have tried to disrupt by introducing products which didn’t appeal to the traditional market.
While the image of the gamer that many of us have is a white male, screaming through their headphones in a Call of Duty Modern Warfare II lobby, companies such as Nintendo, have opened the path in appealing to gamers which were previously ignored. By introducing the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, they wanted to appeal to women, to people not directly attracted to gore/action-oriented video games.
Gamers really are over
🔝 Over 1000 Activision Blizzard Employees Sign Letter Condemning Company’s Response to Allegations [Update: Now Over 2000]
Former and current workers at Activision Blizzard signed a letter to the company’s management calling its response to a recent lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination as “abhorrent and insulting.”
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
After the lawsuit was brought forward by California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Activision dismissed it, calling it ”the work of unaccountable Sate bureaucrats”. Some leaders started calling the complaints troubling, others called the lawsuit meritless, and some tried to distance themselves. There wasn’t a simple recipe that everyone was following, but rather they were dividing in certain camps.
The position of the corporate leaders was simple, and reiterated by Joshua Taub at an internal meeting by the company: “The best way for protection is reaching out to your supervisors, hotline and avenues,”
Over 1,000 Activision Blizzard Employees Sign Letter Condemning Company's Response To Allegations [Update: Now Over 2,000]
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Radu Stochita
Radu Stochita

Newsletter following the research process for my Honors Thesis which aims to understand the labor relations inside the video games industry.
Writing once a week (at least) about working inside the video game industry, the politics of games and their relationship to society.

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