Gamers, Devs and yes even us gaming reporters, are trash. We are! NO getting around it, most of our online presence is bad. I won’t sit on this lofty horse and say all things and people in gaming are awful, it’s just unfortunate that the loudest voices in the medium are the bad ones, and the most memorable moments in news are of developers treating their staff like tools or objects to be abused and tossed aside. It’s been a while since I saw a lick of behind-the-scenes gaming news that I read with a smile on my face, and the latest stories about Activision and Blizzard have shaken me to my core.
In a story as old as time itself and about 7 times as bloody tedious, a big-name developer is in hot water because some of their staff have blown the whistle on their in-house behaviour being more at home in a Victorian era factory rather than a glass walled games development studio. Activision Blizzard have been sued over what is being referred to as “Frat Boy culture” in the most basic terms this means the majority of male staff, were and are dicks. In a more long-winded way, male staff at the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft developers have been accused of making the workplace incredibly hostile to their female co-workers. Accusations range from men getting drunk and engaging in “cube crawls” where they would trot from cubical to cubical flirting and harassing anyone who crossed their socio-path, all the way up to the sickening heights of engaging in demeaning practices of passing around nude photos of their co-workers, making rape jokes and even denying a team member a promotion on the grounds she might become pregnant… Sure there are probably a few people out there already thinking of making the classic boys will be boys comment, however, spoiler alert, if you think that you aren’t just wrong, you’re stupid and wrong!
This kind of behaviour sounds like something out of A Handmaids Tale, it has absolutely no place in a modern civilized society. Especially in a company that likes to sing the praises of various causes when it suits their marketing agendas. If you can’t bring yourself to be a safe space for work and creativity, don’t you dare promote these things to your legions of rabid fan boys.
The kicker of all these stories emerging, is the sad news that one female member of staff at Activision took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party. This revelation shook me so hard I’m pretty sure it dislodged my eyes and filled me with a white-hot rage against my own gender. If your behaviour is so God damn awful that someone feels their only option is death, then YOU are in fact the one who’s life should be taken. That’s not even a hot take, it’s a lukewarm take that we should all be on board with.
Activision Blizzard have responded to this news with the classic “yeah but no” press release: “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.”
Yeah cool, glad you acted and seemingly fired NO ONE FOR BEING SCUMBAGS!
Basically, I love video games, they have given me so much and bring me unspeakable joy almost daily, but stories like this coming out from big name companies, and even just comment sections under posts from developers just trying to make something fun? They break my heart and make me not even want to play anymore, which I honestly never thought would be possible. We can obviously be far better than this, and the quiet majority of fans can help make a change if they just stop being so quiet. I’m asking any one reading this to help by simply boycotting the products of Activision Blizzard. I know that’s tricky but hell, I was incredibly excited for Overwatch 2, but you can be sure I won’t be picking it up now. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the women just trying to make a career in a field still dominated by men, and I’d rather give my money to those teams who make the field better rather than worse.
In conclusion, Fuck you misogynists, come and get me.