Riot Games developers did indeed walk out in protest last night over the ongoing labor and lawsuit fiasco

    
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On Friday, we reported that Riot Games’ latest efforts to stave off a walkout at the popular League of Legends company were likely to fail, and yesterday, we were proven right, as a reported 150-200 staff walked out of the publisher’s LA office in protest over the company’s forced arbitration policy.

A bit of backstory here: Last summer, Kotaku published a brutal exposé of Riot Games’ so-called bro culture that illuminated the company’s sexual harassment problem as well as its sexism problem insofar as hiring and promotions. The testimony of 28 current and former Riot employees was included in the piece, and it blew up. In response, Riot promised a “cultural revolution” and brought on advisors to help fix the problem. Employees then sought to sue the company individually and as a class action for what they characterized as sexual discrimination. Less than a month later, Riot seemed add fuel to the fire when it merely temporarily suspended a VP accused of repeated sexual harassment toward both male and female employees.

But then in April, it became clear that Riot was attempting to divert some of the lawsuits to arbitration thanks to a forced arbitration clause in staffers’ contracts. It didn’t go over well. Following the uproar, Riot made the concession that it would eventually give future staffers the right to opt-out of forced arbitration, but only after the “current litigation” was resolved, which could take years. Meanwhile, the company wouldn’t promise that the opt-out would apply to existing staffers, and of course it certainly doesn’t apply to those alleging gender discrimination in the workplace. And so the walkout was on.

Kotaku called it the “first labor-related walkout for a large game studio like Riot,” quoting a current employee who said, “It’s been eight months since the original [Kotaku] article was released and so far I haven’t seen a single outcome of our diversity and inclusion efforts at Riot. I haven’t seen a single metric or number to indicate things have improved and I haven’t seen a single project get finished.” Another pointed out that while she was satisfied with the future arbitration clause, she was walking out because a sexist hiring manager had been allowed thus far to keep his job in spite of specific complaints about him from four separate employees.

Riot did say it would not retaliate against those participating in the walkout, but it remains unclear whether Riot will actually listen to its developers.

Further reading:

Source: VICE, ESPN, Kotaku, Variety
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MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I just can’t imagine the things being alleged going on. I’ve never worked in gaming, but I’ve done my time in the “techbro” environment, as well as machine shops and medical services and sexual harassment has always been zero-tolerance. More than once I’ve seen someone whisked out by security amidst rumors of sexual harassment, and the only time I saw one return to work was due to a false report, and in that case the other party involved was removed (The accused employee didn’t hang around long after that, though it was well-established that he wasn’t involved in what he was accused of).

I guess someone could be so far on the spectrum that they have too few filters or understanding of consequence, but that’s no excuse for tolerating such behavior. Riot’s response to this boggles the mind.

And arbitration clauses should be outlawed as a condition of employment.

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PurpleCopper

Seeing all these game company scandals makes me wonder why companies openly announce how egalitarian they are.

Because 4 out of 5 times, those companies have skeletons in the closet. NetherRealm comes to mind recently…

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Nathan Aldana

because theyre egalitarian in the way only a business exec can understand,

which is to say, they dont see themselves as being unfair to their employees, after all, theyre evolved enough to not slap a woman on their ass at the office.

They think you can just say the right words to the right people and get the brownie points without the actual effort because thats how everything else works when you;re an executive. Its why they speak in a parlance of buzzwords nobody else finds convincing,. because other people just like them, divorced from the rest of the world, find it convincing

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Nick

It’s interesting to see people in the comments immediatly conclude that the walkout is completely justified. Or that someone is 100% in the right because they hold a sign stating ”I reported, he got promoted”.

I’m not saying there’s nothing going on within Riot. Surely there must be some basis of truth in certain allegations. But in the comments on this article it seems as if everyone has come to their own conclusions already and immediatly assume everyone at the walkout is correct.

Riot employs over 2500 people. At most 200 of those participated in a walkout. How about those not walking out, do they disagree with those that walked out, are they afraid to walk out? I would definitely be interested to hear how many people within Riot feel that there’s a discriminatory culture, and what that entails exactly.

There’s always multiple sides/interpretations to a story and it’s a shame to brand an entire company as evil based on a, so far, one sided perspective or whatever you want to call it.

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Bruno Brito

There’s always multiple sides/interpretations to a story and it’s a shame to brand an entire company as evil based on a, so far, one sided perspective or whatever you want to call it.

Yeah, let’s forget the other stuff, like only suspending temporarily a CFO who harassed multiple workers, or trying to force arbitration towards said causes which are extremely grave.

We’re not branding Riot “evil” because of the first report. We’re branding Riot “careless and clearly negletful of it’s workers” for allowing such a hostile and borderline dangerous culture to thrive, while answering with a jack full of nothing.

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Nick

Apparantly the case of the CFO was judged and the harassment was not deemed serious enough to warrant any harsher actions but a suspension. Why should there be any harsher actions here? Because some people think it’s warranted? Apparantly other people disagreed, hence the suspension.

Also you’re stating that Riot ”allows a hostile and borderline dangerous culture to thrive”. Again, according to whom, because you feel that way, based on 200 out of 2500 people staging a walkout. Who says the culture is hostile and borderline dangerous? Just because you feel that’s the case doesn’t mean that others would share that view. Perhaps other people feel it’s a refreshingly open culture where not every single comment, joke or personal interaction needs to be evaluated because a small subset of people may take offense?

Imo that’s the difficulty of situations such as these where a certain group perceives things in a certain way. Perhaps entirely justified. But perhaps it’s limited to this group and another group that’s just as large if not larger doesn’t share those views. The smaller group in this case tends to get more attention as they’re a bit louder and it’s a more interesting story in the media. That doesn’t mean everything they state is 100% correct though.

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Bruno Brito

You can read Bree’s answer for what i think, but here’s my short addendum:

Apparantly the case of the CFO was judged and the harassment was not deemed serious enough to warrant any harsher actions but a suspension.

Judged, by whom? You know why we only have ONE side of this history? Because Riot did everything in their power to keep this issue out of public view.

What did you expect? When you shove crap to the roof, the door will explode into a shitstorm sooner or later.

Just because you feel that’s the case doesn’t mean that others would share that view.

Stop. This. Crap. Facts aren’t based by world views or fucking feelings. This is becoming a staple in debates and i’m sick of it. I don’t give a shit about the white jackass who thinks everything is fine outside some “childish” pranks from his CFO, but I AM concerned by the diverse staff, as Riot loves to preach they are, that have to deal with sexual harassment and bro culture from the top down.

This isn’t a feelings issue. This is a fucking factual issue. There are ALREADY cases trying to get to litigation that Riot is actively trying to hurt. You can’t make a walkout with 2500 people because that’s worldwide, and it’s naive of you to think so.

Specially when said 2500 are worldwide, and when Riot is owned by Tencent, a CHINESE company.

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agemyth 😩

We know what both sides of the issues are here. I assume people mean well when they take the “both sides” position on issues, but there is more than enough information available to us to believe there are problems with sexism/”bro” culture at Riot Games. It has been an issue that has been spoken of publicly for at least a few years and more recently reported on with many voices from inside the company.

Riot leadership even admits to there being a problem and that it is a top priority.
https://www.riotgames.com/en/who-we-are/our-first-steps-forward

Sticking with the non-committal centrist stance at this point is only harmful to the public awareness of such issues. If you aren’t caught up on all the developments to this story that is understandable, but would mean you are likely making your statement from a less informed perspective.

Sorry if this is dog-piling on you with other commenters saying similar things. I mostly just wanted to openly whine about the “both sides” thing.

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Utakata

Because you know those who fart in subordinate faces or grab them by the balls are “some very fine people!” /bleh

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Nathan Aldana

I never assume people mean well when they say “both sides”, because what they usually mean is “whatever side favors my viewpoint isnt being given a free pass”

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Utakata

Immediately conclude because it’s so obvious. As opposed writing a turgid wall of justification denying it’s obvious existence, lol. No, your conclusion is not interesting at all, just all too predictable. Also see: The parrot is just resting.

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IronSalamander8 .

He’s pining for the fjords!

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Sorenthaz

I mean, at this point the evidence on the upper management of Riot has been pretty damning. Maybe there’s some overreaction, because the outrage culture is definitely a real problem nowadays and things like the #metoo stuff has been abused/misused (because all it takes is a few tweets to damage someone’s career/reputation, dodging the courts so due process can’t do its best to uncover the truth). But at the same time anyone can look at the stories about Riot over the many years at this point and conclude that they’re being run by folks who are operating in their own little world, and it’s blatantly obvious that they have had a “bro culture”.

Also when enough people speak out, you hit the point where either they’re all lying to try and get benefits from it, or they’re at least telling enough of the truth to where there is a serious problem that Riot is being too slow to take care of. And in that case it’s on the fault of the upper management who, we’ve already heard, are guilty of pushing that ‘bro culture’.

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Utakata

To be fair though, the the standard bears of this “outrage culture” – the gomers, alt righters and trumpets, to name a few – don’t use the #MeToo movement in abusive ways that much as far as I am aware. They certainly complain about it a lot. But that’s not the same thing. So I think you are over extending the use of “politic makes strange bedfellows” there a wee bit too much from where the pigtails stand. o.O

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Utakata

Edit/Erratum: …the standard bearers*…proper

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draugris

So do I understand that correctly? In Riot working contracts there is a stipulation which prohibits the employee to go to court in case of sexual harassment and in the case of loans not paid? Ist that legal in the United States?

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Fervor Bliss

Yes it is true. Sadly to say people have promoted the idea that having rights and the use of the court system is too costly. (rolls eyes). We as a people we have decided (hopefully temporarily) to allow arbitration employment agreements instead of using the tax funded court system.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitration

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draugris

WoW just WoW, I mean we also have Arbitration but forcing that in a contract would be considered immoral and therefore the whole contract would be void in front of the court.

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Greaterdivinity

One thing that disappointed me was the fact that the only “big” site to send someone to cover this was Kotaku. Some of the esports sites had locals, but couldn’t anyone else find a freelancer? This is a big freakin event, and especially given how much attention this story and overall topic have received from them.

Good on the employees though, they took a stance and planted their feet in the ground, forcing Riot to back off (at least to a point) and eat some humble pie.

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David Harrison

The sad thing is that if they financially hurt the company enough, Riot games will close down, and there will be 200+ unemployed people looking for a new job. The sad reality is that the bad individuals rarely ever actually get what’s coming to them in this world.

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Bruno Brito

Uh…Riot is one of the most profitable companies in this world. The sky can turn red, and Riot will still be making a profit.

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David Harrison

It’s not that the company would go broke. Instead, if lawsuits looked likely, they will choose a scapegoat in the company to blame, say that the negativity created by X person(s) has damaged their financial projections for the company, and in interest of their investors, they will sale their IPs to another company (that just happens to be theirs as well), and shut down Riot ending the possibility of paying out in lawsuits because Riot games will be a defunct company in bankruptcy proceedings.

The ultra rich aren’t rich because they play by the rules.

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Bruno Brito

Ok, let’s break it down.

It’s not that the company would go broke. Instead, if lawsuits looked likely, they will choose a scapegoat in the company to blame

Riot’s issue isn’t something you can BLAME on someone. It’s been on the headlines for MONTHS now. They have a CULTURAL issue. It’s across the board, members with any kind of power imposing said power in the worst ways possible. This isn’t something they can deflect blame. See the CFO who got suspended ( a joke of a punishment btw ), because they can’t let go of the guy without substituting him first. The entire top of Riot is on the crossfire here. They can’t just toss blame around.

say that the negativity created by X person(s) has damaged their financial projections for the company, and in interest of their investors, they will sale their IPs to another company (that just happens to be theirs as well)

Uh, they won’t. Again, Riot is one of the most profitable ventures in this good earth. They won’t get rid of it that easily, just to make a clunky maneuver that will cost them billions so they can “game the system” in such a shitty way.

and shut down Riot ending the possibility of paying out in lawsuits because Riot games will be a defunct company in bankruptcy proceedings.

The ultra rich aren’t rich because they play by the rules.

I agree with the assessment that the ultrarich don’t play by the rules, but this isn’t the case here. It’s easier for Riot to IGNORE all this stuff while PR’ing their way out, but that won’t happen. And again, everything you said could happen, but it’s an extremely clunky maneuver that will cost them billions.

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Greaterdivinity

I don’t think a walkout on a single day lasting a few hours is going to bankrupt the company dude. They’re a pretty huge company and they have global operations, so I’m sure they’ll be just fine. (also Riot employs far, far, far more than 200 people globally)

Also, this is functionally the exact argument against unions since forever. “But workers will destroy the company if they strike/walk out/organize!” No, workers would be protecting their rights and fighting for better conditions/pay/etc.

It’s a two way street – the company can’t exist and thrive without happy, productive workers and the workers can’t get a paycheck without the company succeeding. Sentiments like what you posted look at the “company” as the be all end all that the universe revolves around, when that’s not the case. If the companies workers are walking out in protest, it’s on the company to address the issue if the company wants to continue to exist. The push and pull of employer vs. employees.

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David Harrison

Read what O replied to Bruno below.

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Fervor Bliss

Misogyny culture just needs to stop. People are not born into roles, cast or any other ancient repressive system taught to kids.

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Nathan Aldana

I reported and he got promoted. I fucking hate corporate america.

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Utakata

The revolution starts now…

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Jack Kerras

I frequently sound like a bummer, but this right here is the shit we need.

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Darthbawl

Good on them for following through on their promise to walk out. Everything I have read about that place, it sounds like a pretty toxic working environment.

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