WoW news

Blizzard Employee Letter to Leadership, Other Responses to Lawsuit

Update: Uppercut posted an article with an unverified source, claiming that an internal all hands called the email from Frances Townsend an apology and saying that it “wasn’t the right communication”.

Blizzard Employee Letter to Leadership
Over 1000 employees signed an letter to the leadership of Activision Blizzard. Polygon shared this letter.

Originally Posted by MMO-Champion

To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,

We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.

We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.

We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.

Chris Metzen Responds to Lawsuit Allegations
Metzen shared an apology and response on Twitter, with a followup specifically about Alex Afrasiabi.

Originally Posted by MMO-Champion

As for Alex. I loved working with him and jamming in story meetings. He was someone I thought very highly of on the job, but we never interacted outside of story jams and such. I was never his boss. We never really interacted outside of doing the work or taking smoke breaks. We haven’t worked closely together sorry nice WotLK. I never heard a peep about him other than that he could be tough on his team or an asshole from time to time. So learning all this the past week has been just utterly shocking. Just reprehensible shit.

Jeff Hamilton on Upcoming Content Delay
Jeff Hamilton shared that the development team may be taking time to process what is happening with the allegations and lawsuit.

Originally Posted by MMO-Champion

OK. I’m still hopeful my team will make a statement, but Activision’s statement was terrible, so here’s what I believe. I know many of my colleagues believe this as well:

I believe all allegations of sexual harassment deserve to be taken seriously and in good faith, and any perpetrators of sexual harassment deserve both removal from the company and criminal investigation.

I believe strongly in equal treatment and equal protection. Regardless of gender or race, everyone deserves a safe and supportive environment in which to work and live.

Our society at large is often not equal, and people with less systemic power due to marginalization need more systemic protection to ensure their fair treatment. It is clear that Human Resources has failed at this systemic protection.

I am viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma that has been inflicted upon my coworkers, friends, and colleagues.

I find Activision’s corporate response wholly unacceptable. I don’t stand by it, any of it. It is evil to usurp a victim’s story into a rhetorical bludgeon, and it is abhorrent to reply to these accusations with anything other than a well-thought-out plan to correct these abuses.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody – not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders.

Activision’s response to this is currently taking a group of world-class developers and making them so mad and traumatized they’re rendered unable to keep making a great game.

I deeply love my team. I believe in my coworkers. I have recommended this place as a beacon to people I care deeply about, and in my personal experience, it has been that beacon. But it is DAMNINGLY OBVIOUS that that experience has not been universal. The people who were harmed by abuse – they deserved that experience too.

Alex Klontzas on Upcoming Content Delay
Alex Klontzas shared his thoughts on any delay of upcoming content.

Ghostcrawler Responses to BlizzCon Video
An old video from the BlizzCon 2010 Q&A resurfaced recently, and Ghostcrawler responded, as he was sitting on the panel at the time.

Originally Posted by MMO-Champion

There’s a 10 year old Blizzcon video going around of players doing a Q&A with a panel of devs of which I was a member. Look, it was a shitty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well. I wish I had said something better then.

You can’t really see the people asking the questions well from the stage, and I feel terrible now seeing the look on her face. I have more experience now answering questions live, but no doubt that won’t be my last shitty answer. I apologize for those as well as for this one.

I think some folks are interpreting my saying I will make mistakes again as some kind of blasé attitude about the situation of women in the gaming industry. That’s my interpretation of their interpretation anyway…

I think devs talking to players is really important. I want to encourage studios to keep doing it. But I know it’s scary for a lot of developers. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing and make players or their company mad. The only way to get better is to do it a lot…

I have been doing it for 23 years plus or minus. I still make mistakes. It happens. Learn from it. Apologize and move on. I hope the lesson that anyone is taking from that Blizzcon video is *not* how risky it is to talk to the community…

I was talking internally to Riot the other day and I was trying to compliment a team and ended up insulting them instead. I felt like shit for a couple of days. It happens…

I was only talking about the video, and really only because tha_rami brought it up, and I respect the hell out of him. I wasn’t trying to call whatever happened at Blizzard an accident. I hope I didn’t contribute to that and I even hope I made the culture a little better…

I’m not trying to speak for Blizzard and I’m certainly not trying to speak for the women or POCs at Blizzard. I do believe men in leadership roles have a responsibility, a duty, to make sure women and other marginalized folks feel welcome, happy, and successful at our studios…

I mean really all men at a studio do, but especially the leaders of the studio. I take that very seriously at Riot, and we have worked very hard to make our company a better place to work…

As I have said, I think we are doing well, but it’s a long journey, and it won’t be me but the women of Riot who ultimately decide if succeeded or not…

I find the video embarrassing and I apologize to the player who asked the question and all others who were disappointed with our “answer.” I think there are more important voices that we need to hear right now. But the video can be a reminder that we can be better.

GC out

Hmmm…. by comparison to other MMO’s, especially Eastern MMO’s, WoW has been very reasonable in its depiction of female characters. I have never sensed WoW has oversexualized any of its characters. Blizz has problems but this isn’t one of them.
For me, the issue is the way we answered not the actual topic (Source)