The #MeToo movement has resulted in multiple industries coming under the public spotlight for poor working conditions. Video game development companies have not been immune from such criticism. Over the last year, stories have leaked about developers shutting down and not giving their workers severance pay or having some employees spend an obscene amount of time perfecting the details of a game far beyond what the standard work hours should be.
Out of all of them, few have been able to match this year’s allegations against Riot Games, a video game developer in Los Angeles best known for their highly popular online multiplayer game, League of Legends. Despite the massive success of the game and having over 2,500 workers under their employment, the company has recently come under fire for their poor treatment of their female employees.
The “bro culture”
On recent gaming sites and local news sources, current and former female workers of Riot Games have vented about how poorly the company treats them. They experienced several forms of sexual harassment, retaliation and undermining by their male coworkers and superiors. Some of these incidents included an email chain where male employees discussed which female workers they would like to have sex with, getting regularly talked over or ignored during their meetings or complaints and being denied promotion opportunities.
In response to the controversy, Riot Games launched an investigation on the allegations and has begun several diversity initiatives in an attempt to make more workers feel more welcome at their headquarters. They even brought in the same consultant who helped Uber with their similar scandals to decrease the company’s supposed acts of sexism.
Despite the efforts of Riot Games to reform their culture in the last couple of months, they are getting sued by one former and one current employee for gender discrimination, retaliation and harassment. The suit cites some of the inappropriate behavior of multiple employees and how the company failed to punish or reduce this behavior for such a long period and passed over multiple women for promotional opportunities.
As this controversy came to light nearly after a year after the #MeToo movement began, this demonstrates that multiple companies still have yet to improve their environments and policies to make it a safe workplace for all employees. Some workers still fear retaliation from their employers or further hostilities if they speak up about their problems. Those who fear or face resistance from their company for their complaints should consider acquiring legal assistance to ensure proper coverage in the event of a workplace emergency.