Jeff Hamilton calls Activision’s response ‘wholly unacceptable’ (pic: Blizzard)
Following Activision’s response to the sexual harassment lawsuit, apparently all work has stopped on World Of Warcraft.
When news broke that Activision was being sued by the State of California for fostering a ‘frat boy’ workplace, resulting in numerous sexual harassment allegations and otherwise discriminatory behaviour, the company was unsurprisingly met with criticism across the board.
Activision’s official responses to the lawsuit didn’t help, as the company denied or downplayed the allegations. In turn, this has prompted some of its own employees to publicly call the company out, among them World Of Warcraft’s senior system designer Jeff Hamilton.
Taking to Twitter, he bluntly called Activision’s statement ‘terrible’ and said he was ‘viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma’ inflicted on his fellow employees.
What’s more, apparently all development on World Of Warcraft has completely stopped because the team has become demotivated, whether out of anger or trauma.
‘I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out,’ wrote Hamilton, ‘Activision’s response to this is currently taking a group of world-class developers and making them so mad and traumatised they’re rendered unable to keep making a great game.’
Over the last few days, a couple of former Activision Blizzard executives have also commented on the lawsuit and the allegations. While they no longer work for the company, they have issued apologies for failing to recognise what was going on during their time there.
The first is Mike Morhaime, one of Blizzard’s co-founders and former CEO. ‘I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences,’ he wrote in a lengthy Twitter post.
‘I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.
‘As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can. I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognised, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make.’
The second is Chris Metzen, who served at Blizzard as senior vice president of story and franchise development until his retirement in 2016.
‘We failed, and I’m sorry,’ he said via Twitter, ‘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.
‘There is no excuse. We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can’t.’
Most recently, former Blizzard employee Joy Fields has commented on her time at the company. She writes that, while she was working there from 2006 to 2012, she was constantly treated as a sex object and sexually harassed multiple times.
‘I believe this culture was fostered by Blizzard’s hiring practices. Hires happened based on a ‘culture fit’ more than anything else, and as we can see, the culture is toxic and one of sexual harassment and assault,’ she wrote on Twitter.
‘This culture is intentional. As a Blizzard employee you are constantly reminded of the devotion required to persist in such a ‘dream job’. Extravagant amounts of money are spent to impress and fascinate employees and distract them from their situation. How lucky everyone must be to work at a company so cool, right? In the end, it is all just tactics to hide the toxic environment while also providing a place for it to thrive. And these tactics worked, even on someone like me who was a stranger to Blizzard’s games before I began working with them.’
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