Back in March 2020, we reported on the departure of Diablo III community manager Brandy “Nevalistis” Camel, who noted in her statement that she was not leaving “for any ill reasons.” However, she has now joined myriad others in calling out Activision-Blizzard for its now unveiled culture of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination by way of a personal blog post that recounts her time at the company.
While Camel explicitly states that she did not suffer any sexual abuse or assault, there were still plenty of problems that marred her time at Blizzard in both her 2.5 years in customer service and nearly seven years as a community manager. During her time in CS, for example, she witnessed an “extremely heavy drinking and partying culture” where senior staff regularly made advances on coworkers — none of which could be reported to her manager at the time as he mentioned he was “interested” in her.
She also pointed out inequities in treatment, recounting a time she was put on a highly monitored corrective coaching program known as a Performance Improvement Plan, with no prior verbal or written warning, for browsing the internet. “My job, quite literally, was to browse the internet (including social media) to help users who posted proactively about their issues, but may not have submitted a ticket,” she says. “I was often looked at as one of the best writers and communicators on my team by my peers, and this disingenuous punishment seriously devalued my work.”
Her time as a community manager was no better, as she notes only being promoted twice only because exiting female managers promoted her, while less experienced male team members received multiple promotions. Further, when these concerns were brought up to HR, she was told that nothing could be done.
Camel also alleges pay disparities, recalling how male employees were able to buy houses in southern California while her salary — which should have been similar — instead went to growing debt in a three-person rental. When Camel told bosses that her new job was offering 18% more to start than what she was receiving at Blizzard after almost a decade, she offered to stay if Blizzard would match it. Blizzard’s response, according to Camel? “You should leave.”
Camel also wrote about how the pushback on Diablo Immortal was “something that took a very deep, very personal toll” on her, recounting being ganged up on by angry fans at the BlizzCon that the game was announced at with no company support or security to help her, which ultimately led her to needing therapy to cope with the abuse.
“Developers were able to exit safely via backstage; I was vulnerable on the show floor, amidst the crowd of attendees. I knew this reaction was coming and I deeply empathized with them, but still I hoped for the best and tried to be available to a very hurt and frustrated community. Instead, I was still harassed until I called in friends to escort me from the show floor. I retreated to our community HQ behind the scenes (a room where we work on all our social media for the show and can take breaks from the show floor) and cried for at least an hour. Then, I put myself back together, and walked out on the show floor to keep dealing with the same vitriol the rest of the weekend because that was my job. I needed to put on a smile and be there for the fans.”
Ultimately, Camel admits that she left Blizzard because she realized her career wouldn’t progress there. She additionally calls out developer ego and a lack of humility that feeds into the company’s toxic culture and further points out that these problems are not unique to Blizzard. “This is an industry problem. […] My peers across the industry all commiserate on the same experiences. This is especially true when it comes to dismissiveness around community, influencer, and social media management,” she writes.