The planned walk out reported on last week has gone ahead, with over 100 employees joining the protest. At time of writing, the protest is currently in full swing and planned to go for a couple of hours.
The walk out – which began 2PM local time, and is expected to continue until at least 4PM – is attended by staff members from throughout the hierarchy of Riot Games, from developers to assistants to managers. The protest is in regards to the toxic culture at the League of Legends developer. The unnamed organiser of the protest stated to Vice that thoughts of a protest had been brewing over the course of the last year, but the attempts by Riot to force arbitration in the cases of recent lawsuits brought the situation to a head.
“We are walking out against forced arbitration of past, current, and future employees, including contractors and those involved in current litigation,” she stated, further elaborating that arbitration should not be a part of future contracts signed by employees.
“This is an action we intended specifically to target forced arbitration,” Social Listening Strategist, Jocelyn Monahan, added during the protest. “We’re asking forced arbitration be ended for all past, current, and future riot employees including contractors and also in current litigation.”
The protest is planned to have a variety of guest speakers, and provide employees the opportunity to voice their concerns openly amongst their peers. One employee, as reported by Motherboard’s Jason Koebler, has already expressed a desire to resign from the company due to the handling of the company’s internal review system.
Riot Games pre-empted the event with a statement on the situation.
“We support Rioters making their voices heard today. We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times. We respect Rioters who choose to walkout today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not).
While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution.
As we have been for the past week, we will continue to listen to Rioters regarding their thoughts on arbitration and we’re thankful for everyone that has taken the time to meet with leadership about this issue.”
The Riot situation comes during a period of increased awareness that many popular games studios treat their employees poorly, with game devs in particular facing the brunt. With mental breakdowns and essentially forced overtime a reoccurring feature, there’s been increased calls that developers should unionise for protection.