The lawsuit has been the No. 1 topic in many gaming-related /r for the past couple of days. It is not the first lawsuit for sexual harassment for a gaming company and not even the first time sexual harassment and workplace environment, in general, are a public topic at Blizzard.
The fact that there is an active lawsuit ongoing means, that there is probably more behind it than just some inappropriate jokes or individual unrelated cases.
Also, the way J. Allen Brack and Fran Townsend reacted to the investigation was utterly disgusting. They were defensive in a way that also makes me believe that there is way more behind it – and, that they didn't only get to know about this through the lawsuit.
But still, none of that is new, given the amount of publicly fallen celebrities related to sexual harassment we've had in the past couple of years. Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey to name three of the most famous ones.
However, what really shocked me today, was the story of a man who claims to be working at Blizzard since 2012. His video was uploaded on TikTok, shared here on Reddit (link to the post further below) and I will copy the transcript of what he said in the video – you can either follow the link to the video or read it here, the content is the same:
"Look, I'm trying to be a positive person so I don't like making posts like this. It's for my friends working at Blizzard entertainment that I didn't want to say anything at all. So if you know what's going on you know that Blizzard was sued by the state of California for a toxic environment among other things, and in their response they said 'this does not represent who Blizzard is.' Yes it does and it has for a long time. Since my first day back in 2012 I was sexually harassed and women have it way worse. One of my employees was told by a technical director, to her face in front of witnesses, during one of these cube crawls, that absolutely do exist, that he didn't like her because she wasn't giving him head. When an employee was sexually assaulted at a holiday party we had to fight tooth and nail with HR to get them to take any action with which they victimized her and blamed her. Now we've got an employee who has taken her own life, seemingly because of the treatment that she experienced at the hands of her leadership and her coworkers? Yeah, it's real, it's you, do better."
Through his TikTok you can trace back to his LinkedIn, which seems to check out so I do think his story seems reasonable. Still, be aware that there is no proof for all of his words to be true (as of now). Yet, even the slightest possibility of them being true fills me up with a whole load of emotions between grief, anger, and disappointment.
I do understand that it is probably impossible to prevent sexual harassment from happening in a company of that size. Yet, once this topic is on the table of leading personnel, it should never leave that table until a reasonable situation has been reestablished – which obviously is not the case here.
If the story about the seemingly workplace-related suicide checks out, no CEO / President or similar person from management can ever tell anybody they didn't get a notice about it – or if so, they are either lying, horribly unqualified for this position, or the internal structures of that company are in ruins.
This means we are literally talking about "walking over dead bodies" right now.
And the fact that less than half a week after the lawsuit got public we are already having dead-body stories on the table really makes me scared about what is yet to come. THIS is what frightens me the most about all this. Usually, in those cases, the really bad stuff won't blow up until the very end and here we are on day 3 with a suicide story.
What is the real sinister stuff that this company is still hiding?
What is it, that J Allen Brack, Fran Townsend, and even Michael Morhaime are trying to hide? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Morhaime and his work and undoubtedly his response was almost heartwarming, compared to the soulless spit-outs from the other two, yet he has lead that company until 3 years ago and the accusations are going back way further, so he for sure ain't innocent.
Also, I'm not saying "don't buy games from this company". Cancel-Culture won't help get this issue out of the way. We need to change our society in a way, that women are as safe as men wherever they are. To ensure, that every workplace comes with a safe environment and people who fail to separate their sexual desires from their work colleagues will have to face proper consequences. Obviously, as the TikTok video and the Kevin Spacey incidents claim, this is not only something that affects women, yet they are by far more often the target of sexual assaults than we men are.
Sure, we can show Blizzard, that incidents like this will affect their sales. Yet even driving the company into bankruptcy would only shift the issue and victims as well as offenders to other companies. So just burning all you Blizzard-stuff won't make this disappear, neither will it make the pain go away for any victim. What we need to do is keep our eyes open in our personal environment. Intervene where we see things happen. Make our own workplace safe, where others fail to do so.
We all can be the heroes we ought to be in Azeroth.
And for anybody who had faced sexual assaults in the past: You are not alone. Get somebody to talk about it. Many people have been where you are and there are more than enough who found a way to move on. Even if you don't see it yet, there is a way for you to move on. I'm no expert, so I can't really help you, but rest assured, if anybody is out there reading this who wants to share their story to an anonymous open ear far away: My PMs are always open for you. I might not have the solutions for you, but I promise I will be your open ear.
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