Road to E3 Part 3: The Ugly

Next in our Road to E3 2021 is the ugly side of gaming. This year we’ve seen big companies come under fire for sexual harassment. We had a major name in eSports banned for allegations of misconduct. One of the most beloved gaming companies stumble and struggle to find its footing.

Beyond just the games themselves, companies have come under fire for workplace practices. Ubisoft has been outed for not responding to reports of sexual harassment, and even with public pressure, it seems they simply shuffled some people around and swept it under the rug as best they could. While some of the executive team resigned, others have simply been left in their positions or moved to a different part of the company despite dozens of complaints.

Activision Blizzard found itself at the center of attention when it was reported that its developers and staff were extremely overworked and underpaid. In 2019 employees had staged walkouts in response to Blizzard censoring political speech related to Hong Kong. Then there are the massive layoffs in recent years, and many fans worry it is affecting the quality of beloved franchises.

Will the increased scrutiny of business practices change the way gaming studios do business? Or will they continue to bleed talent to newer groups like Singularity 6 or Mike Morhaime’s Dreamhaven?

eSports are booming. What was once a fringe event for conventions, is watched by millions every day. More games than ever are leaning into the eSports scene. Some games, like Overwatch and Call of Duty, have made their own leagues will well-funded teams. With the increase in money and audience, we see the rise of eSports stars. Much like physical sports, the stars are seen as infallible to their fans, but they are not. One such star was an Overwatch and Valorant player named Jay “Sinatraa” Won.

Sinatraa made headlines when he left Overwatch for Valorant. One of Overwatch’s biggest names leaving made everyone question the game’s longevity. Sinatraa joining Valorant gave the new game validity. The star was on fire until allegations of sexual abuse and rape arose. His ex-girlfriend, Chloe published evidence of the allegations. Sinatra was quickly banned and still under allegations. An unseen side of eSports was exposed. The industry will need to establish better guidelines and training for their players. As eSports grows, so too shall its responsibilities.

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