Another big video game publisher is being slammed by sexual harassment allegations, this time it’s Activision Blizzard. A California lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims the company has a “frat boy” culture with gender discrimination and “constant sexual harrassment.” The suit is lead by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Since the filing, many former employees have spoken out against the company.
According to DFEH, only 20% of Activision Blizzard employees are women. And they are suppressed from reaching the top tiers of the company. It’s also being reported women are paid less than their male counterparts.
The suit claims sexism is present in all of Activision Blizzard and its subsidiaries. Even Blizzard president, J. Allen Brack, is named for enabling this behavior. Alex Afrasiabi, Former World of Warcraft Senior Creative Director is called out as a “top-level harasser.”
J. Allan Brack sent a message out to his employees following the filing. He explains that sexual harassment is unacceptable and “extremely troubling.” He says management will be meeting to discuss how they will be moving forward.
Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor and current Activision Blizzard VP of corporate affairs, released a very different message. She boasts of the company’s achievements in combating sexual harassment. Townsend also claims the court filing is false and based on outdated information. In the end, she invertedly revealed the company has had issues for over a decade. Employees and players are now demanding her removal on social media.
Players are speaking out. Many World of Warcraft players have canceled their $15 per month subscriptions. Some cannot cancel because they have purchased 6-month plans. Those players have taken up an in-game protest. They are uniting for “sit in’ in the Shadowlands hub of Oribos. While the direct impact is minimal on the company, the increase in social media awareness is being felt.
Personally, this sickens me. I am tired of these companies not having basic decency. It’s simple, treat each other with respect and compassion. Instead, greed and power are driving those in charge of the games we love. Ubisoft has been dealing with the sexual harassment spotlight for over a year, with minimal changes. Now Activision Blizzard. The difference, the fans expect more. They have betrayed their employees and once-loyal fandom. Activision Blizzard needs to remove everyone anywhere near this “frat boy” culture and try to redeem themselves. Their hard-working employees deserve better. We all deserve better.
And the last bit of Blizzard sexism making the rounds after Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier brought it to Twitter’s attention.