Diablo community manager recounts low pay, a sexually threatening culture, and mistreatment at Blizzard

"The space there isn't safe or conducive to having women succeed and grow"

    
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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.

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Bruno Brito

which should have been similar — instead went to growing debt in a three-person rental.

I want to point this out here.

I don’t know if it’s something inherent to MOP readers, or something inherent to privileged assholes who never went a day without having to eat so they could pay one more bill, but i’ll speak as someone who had, and someone who is a son of a person who had to eat bananas for lunch when he was a teacher to make ends meet.

If you can’t understand the struggles that someone went through in their lives, do everyone, including yourselves a favor, and shut the fuck up. If you ride to your jobs by car, don’t judge those who need to count the coins for the bus fare.

Your knowledge as someone who never went through struggles that could lead to fucking DESTITUTION and homelessness is useless. No one wants to hear it. I’m sick and tired of medium-high class pricks talking about “oh, why do they put up with it” GUESS WHY.

The incredible levels of mansplaining and skepticism that people get when we talk about victims, that somehow, conveniently vanishes when talking about the company itself is fucking mindboggling. We don’t need more devil’s advocates in this world, we need less. Stop being cold-hearted morons because whatever bullshit you think your jackass rationale is making you immune to being led by the nose, it isn’t. You’re still doing the role of defending a fucking 72billion dollar company, no matter how much you play the enlightened centrist card.

God, i hate the “useful idiots”.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

For your information, Useful Idiots are my country’s top selling product…

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Utakata

“The incredible levels of mansplaining and skepticism that people get when we talk about victims, that somehow, conveniently vanishes when talking about the company itself is fucking mindboggling.”

It’s not really skepticism in the truest sense though. As the questions raised are based on suspicion and conjecture and not that of evidence. Yes, it’s always plausible that folks can be dishonest in their ways, but they can’t be declared dishonest if there is no real proof of it. Thus it’s best to direct the nose in the smell test to the source of the odor, instead of sniffing around pointlessly for that mythical “Ah-ha!” moment. Just saying.

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Bruno Brito

It’s not. It’s just projection and lack of empathy at it’s core. “It didn’t happen to me, so why would they let it happen to them?” “I wouldn’t put myself through that so why would you?”

It’s just people unaware of their own privilege wanting to be the main focus of a story that is not about them. As it always is.

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Utakata

I get that too…

But I should say though my reply is more directed at a certain individual who asked me a question in this regards now in a moderated locked thread below. And who clearly still doesn’t get it. That is, you don’t gas light reasonable doubt. It no longer becomes reasonable if you do. /bleh

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Vanquesse V

Thank you. Not understanding poverty and refusing to believe the accounts of people with first hand experience is way too common, even among otherwise empathic people.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah. And like, it’s something that can be forgotten. Lemme tell you a story, and this is hilarious:

My mom is a social worker. She is also a minor landlord, she split our home here that she built when it was cheaper, in five. She rents 3 of these, one of them is mine, the other is vacant. So, we survive ok with the money. But i digress.

She got her job back after almost 10 years without one, and was quite happy to go back, but her car broke down and she had to spend her first week on the job using the bus. Now, let me tell you a bit about my mom: She’s a heavily meritocratic woman, with little understanding of social movements and racial/gender issues. She’s a good person, but she’s a bit ignorant. She’s as accepting as she can be, but she is, as a lot of people are, a bit of a bigot.

She spent my entire youth and adult life nagging me that i only “took the bus because i wanted it” and that “she also went through that, so i could endure easily because it’s not that hard.” So, i was looking forward to her taking the bus for a week. On the third day, she gets home, and starts crying, and i got concerned until she says: “I can’t take this anymore!”

I can’t convey how hard i started laughing. Holy shit that was hilarious. Three days of taking crowded bus trips and she was having a meltdown for something i spent like 12 years of my life doing. She started being a bit more receptive to my criticism after that.

My father has the same issue. He came from pure poverty. His life is literally a miracle, and i don’t take from him the effort he put into it to become a person worth of notice. He got out of the abyss that is the inner rural small towns of Brazil, and he ate bananas for his lunch when he was trying to make ends meet. He overcame pneumonia, he worked and studied like a complete doped monkey and he found his path on Law. He’s the only person in his family to have any sort of success, and even thought my father has a LOT of resentment towards them, he still takes care of them.

He’s also a womanizer, a drunk and a prone to violence ( when it comes to me, he never hurt a woman ), and he is meritocratic to a T, never understanding others and lacking empathy when it comes to having issues. He got better lately, i don’t know why. People are complicated. He’s not a bad person, but he is extremely malicious and toxic. Everytime he gets a girlfriend or a wife, i take her by the side and do all the disclaimer about who he really is. He forgot how it was to be poor and to suffer through. He got used to the luxury which yes, he deserves it. Doesn’t mean he should have forgotten.

I at least can understand people who go through and block the memories, you WANT to forget suffering. What i really hate is the people who went through absolutely nothing of the sort and want to make the debate about them. Fuck’em. Women’s rights is not about these idiots. It never was, it never will be, and if they took the hint and clam the hell up, we would all be thankful.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

A short quote of what Bruno says for the TL;DR folks:

shut the fuck up

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Arktouros

If you can’t understand the struggles that someone went through in their lives, do everyone, including yourselves a favor, and shut the fuck up.

I mean really you should just take your own advice then. This is the internet. We literally all don’t know each other or our backgrounds or where we came from. My life has been far from perfect and has had some pretty low moments but those are personal and I don’t share them. I certainly have no desire to list them like a qualifier that says I’m officially allowed to have an opinion on the internet.

There’s two posts below saying she shouldn’t have put up with it and left sooner. One of which said they couldn’t of handled it and woulda ended up quitting on the spot. The number of people implying her only option is to quit on the spot and leave herself in a financially perilous situation is very weird. Especially because she eventually did what any sane, non-extreme person does and go and look for another job while still employed at her company so there’s no financial crisis.

I am also 100% just as skeptical towards the company the difference is the companies generally don’t say much. They’re not going to give you some detailed accounting of various scenarios over the last 8 years or something lol. I mean there was some denials and claims that they’ve handled a lot of these scenarios previously but I’m just as skeptical of that. I’m sure there’s some elements of truth in there but also them trying to gloss over or ignore certain issues people have raised about the company.

I mean it sure is fun to throw out “devil advocates” and “defending billionaires” and all that usual stuff but that’s not the scenario going on. No one said Blizzard has done nothing wrong. No one has victim blamed and said she deserved the abuse she got. Hell no one is even denying she was abused. What you have is a few people who have experience at corporations throwing out a few tid bits of wisdom from their time and skepticism that this is the whole story (because these kinds of stories rarely are the whole story) which you’ve decided to dismiss as mansplaining or privilege.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I hope one thing gamers learn from this is that you never know what’s going on, even when you think you do, you don’t.

Another thing I hope we learn is that dumping on community managers and other public facing people is just abusive behavior for which there is no excuse. And I say that as someone who was truly pissed about Diablo Immortal.

Lastly, don’t be thinking that you know what another person went through and can 100% in hindsight tell them what they should have done.

For all of you that, somehow, have managed to blame it on her, I know what you’re really thinking. You hope, all of you, that you have the courage and fortitude to recognize when you, too, are in a situation as bad as this one and are able to find a way out. You hope you do not fall victim to it, but you’re afraid you would.

And if you somehow imagine that you are, magically, a far better, stronger, braver person, remember, that there are literally THOUSANDS of men working at Blizzard. HUNDREDS at BlizzCon, and not a SINGLE ONE of them thought to come to a co-worker’s aid when she was besieged.

Go back to the menu and re-roll your stats until you get something better than +15 to Full of Myself.

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Immoral

Blizzard has more respect for the Chinese government than its Western customers or employees. I say let them fail. If they love Winnie the Xi so much they can shutter their Irvine HQ and move to Beijing.

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Kynn Khilo

Blizzard is definitely going to go down probably for all this. I’m kinda starting to wonder if Asmondgold had some type of inside info that something big was coming. May want to stream elsewhere !

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Bruno Brito

No, he hadn’t.

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kelvar

There’s a number of posts here that are just straight up victim blaming and it’s depressing. Quite possibly the folks doing so aren’t even aware of it which is a whole other issue.

And to all the Bravehearts out there saying how you wouldn’t put up with it, you’d quit or get fired or be brutally honest with the hostile crowd (almost certainly at the cost of your job) please just shut it.

You have no idea what her life was, not everyone (in fact almost certainly most people) is in a financial position to just say fuck it and walk away from a job. Maybe she’s paycheque to paycheque, barely able to survive, or maybe it would destroy her career.

Or who knows. But it’s so easy to judge someone when you’re not in their position. So instead of going on about how much better or more effectively you would have dealt with it, because you’re so tough, how about some empathy?

Man, a lot of these posts really pissed me off.

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Seras Victoria

Yeah a lot of these Blizz workers worked there because of the personal love for the game company, and these macho answers of I would have left cos of maths and numbers rationale and nitpicking on the housing affordability. If this is the best they can say after reading the whole blog on the years of gender discrimination I don’t know what to think smh. It’s not like this problem surfaced out of the blue, the rumours has been around for a decade.

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Utakata

The term I think you are looking for here is “mansplaining”. And those folks who are using that are quite frankly and francesly a part of the problem, IMO. Don’t tell ’em that though, they’ll argue in tedium and ad infinity how they’re not…

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Vanquesse V

“And to all the Bravehearts out there saying how you wouldn’t put up with it, you’d quit or get fired or be brutally honest with the hostile crowd (almost certainly at the cost of your job) please just shut it. ”
Doing this IS victim blaming. Saying this is implying the victim could have avoided the issue by following these simple 3 steps ™

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Arktouros

Personal stories like this always leave me with one eyebrow raised. Like I’ve heard ex-coworkers tell their tales of what went down at their workplace and it almost always leaves out some crucial details that leave them looking like they never did anything in the wrong. I hear a story about how it was their job to browse the internet but then get written up for browsing the internet and the that story just doesn’t add up. It’s the same thing with statements like coworkers are buying homes they must make more money than I do. There’s a lot that goes into buying a home beyond just salary.

And it’s not to say this person is lying but it’s to say that if someone else came along and sprinkled on a few additional details that happened to be skipped over it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. They were browsing facebook friend’s profiles instead of looking for issues or that guy who bought a home really had his parents cosign or chip in to buy the home the whole picture makes a lot more sense.

As for 18% increased offers get it in writing but that doesn’t mean a company is going to pay it. There was a gal who said she got an offer for 80k from another company but never got an offer letter and the company was just like we’re not going to pay that for their position. If you see a double digit % pay increase offer and your company won’t match you should absolutely leave and jump on that. Even then most large corporations have baked in maximum increases they will give you for taking new positions. A friend from another department straight up left the company for a month then reapplied for a different position just so he could get paid more.

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Utakata

…don’t trip over yourself with all those anecdotes now.

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Arktouros

Your exact skepticism over my anecdotes is entirely my point. We should be skeptical of the anecdotal stories people tell in these scenarios absolutely including mine. I could be leaving something out of my stories/experiences (I didn’t, far as I know) but this person could as well. And that pigtails is the real question, are you objective enough to be skeptical at everyone’s stories or just the ones from people you dislike?

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angrakhan

If what all she says is true, I question why she didn’t leave sooner. At the offer of an 18% raise, for example, I wouldn’t even have asked Blizzard to match it. I’d do the math on how much that had cost me over the years I had been there and 1) kicked myself for not leaving sooner 2) tell Blizzard where they could stuff their crappy pay.

I honestly also question the whole “buying a house in Southern California” on a community manager’s pay thing. There’s something being left out there. Housing prices in California are stupidly over valued. Last time I was in Sonoma I dropped by a real estate office in down town to just have a look. A house the same square footage as my house was going for $2.1 million dollars. I bought my house for about 10% of that. Call me cynical, but if community managers are making that kind of scratch I’m in the wrong business. Without specifics of to whom she is referring, what their actual titles were, and how much they made versus her I would rack that whole point of hers up to hearsay.

Before you all jump on me for not believing the victim or whatever just understand that while I am a software developer I have spent the last 8 years in the real estate title industry, and the 8 years prior to that in the homebuilding industry. I know a thing or two about home prices. That piece of her story just comes off as not quite adding up to me. I’m sure the rest of it is accurate.

Final point, and this is more just professional advice. You will always be underpaid by working for a big corporation for years at a time. I’ve worked for a fortune 200 company and never saw more than a 2% annual raise my entire career there. All that money goes to executive bonuses. The only way to make significant ground in your salary is by changing employers. If you want to work for Blizzard, great. Go work for them for 3 years to show you’re not a job hopper and then move on. Your only other option is to work for yourself.

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Meanie

Blizzards offices are either in Santa Monica or Irvine. Not Sonoma, which is known for being wine country and a place where typically only extremely wealthy people would live.

You can live in any number of more affordable cities in the areas surrounding both Santa Monica and Irvine. Santa Monica specifically could be : Torrance, Culver City, San Pedro, Long Beach..all of these places and more have more realistic options.

If you know so much about real estate and housing why would you assume your brief experience with a look into the local housing of an extremely expensive area of Northern California, an entirely different area of the same state would have any correlation to her or her colleagues housing experience?

Why do you think anyone is looking for your professional advice here? It’s likely she like many others wanted to work at Blizzard because they have a personal love for the company (it comes up a lot if you’ve been paying attention) and wanted to be able to do that while being paid appropriately. We all know the company is very capable of doing that.

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angrakhan

I gave my professional advice in case it was useful to someone. It would have been useful to the lady that is the subject of this story. If it’s not useful to you then ignore it and move on.

Why would you have a personal love for a company that treats you like what’s documented in this story? That seems like a pretty massive case of masochism. You’re only valuable to a company so long as you’re deemed an asset. The moment you’re viewed as a liability you’re gone. They have zero loyalty to you. Why would you be loyal to them at the same time they’re asking you to work in a hostile environment? Why on earth would you “love” a company like that?

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Meanie

It looks like the advice at least helped someone so I’m not going to argue against you sharing it at all, but i just feel like this maybe wasn’t the forum for it as it just comes off like you’re trying to give someone who is sharing their story of abuse advice contrary to their experience. Not really the place.

I can’t speak for her but based on the stories I’ve read and an understanding of the mindset of someone who is passionate for the things they love and the places that create them (in this case, Blizzard) it isn’t hard to imagine that you can convince yourself things may get better for the sake of your love of something bigger than yourself. It’s not always easy to see things when you’re in the thick of it.

As for your other comment, we can both keep coming up with anecdotal evidence about real estate prices but as someone who has lived there my entire life, housing is terrible but it’s not as terrible as you’re trying to make it out to be. Plus this is at the height of the buyers market that you’re checking, do we know when specifically her claims were about?

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Bruno Brito

Why would you have a personal love for a company that treats you like what’s documented in this story? That seems like a pretty massive case of masochism.

This is a extremely weird take. Blizzard inner workings weren’t well known until waaay after their Activision acquisition. Blizzard was a company that always invested in their “golden city on a hill” mythos, and everyone wanted to work for them. The fact that everything started getting sloppier after Morhaine left and now we know his ternure was hell on earth tells us of how extremely pressured the ambient inside the company was.

Which means everyone who worked there only found the company’s inner workings when it was too late. Pressure made sure you would stay both quiet and inside the company. Finding another job isn’t easy, specially when you want to shittalk your former company and can’t prove anything.

There’s a reason why the investigation came so much time AFTER Morhaine left.

Blizzard isn’t a construction site. No one ‘knew’ they were going to treat you like a ravaged veteran until after you joined in.

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angrakhan

Oh and yeah. I just checked Zillow for homes in Torrance CA. $975k for 1500 sq. ft.? Is that your “ah ha I showed you” retort? Really? Is that your “realistic option” for a community manager? A million bucks for a damn starter home? Dude I am literally laughing out loud. Thank you for making my point.

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Arktouros

Yea I’ve basically come to the same conclusion about pay at my workplace. My choice is basically accept I’ll only ever see large increases if a position opens way above me or prepare to hop around from company to company while trying to make slightly higher pay increases. Or move to another city that pays even better (but then usually has higher costs of living). Even then if I wait for a promotion position to open up at my company I basically will make the absolute minimum that position would get paid where as if I left and came back I could negotiate for a higher starting salary.

What I’ve always found crazy is I feel like no one ever taught or tells you these things. Like you’d think some sort of schooling or education would have better prepared people for these kinds of corporate environments and how they function.

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Utakata

What a shit-gibbons culture to work under. /bleh

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Bryan Correll

Why you gotta bad mouth gibbons like that?

Stefan
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Stefan

People ganging up on another person over a game, toxicity from people is not restricted to in game behavior only.

Community managers have sadly always been the punching bags. There has to be some sort of sensibility campaign to make people more self aware, it also shows a problem with how poorly CS in general is treated and that the customer is always right mantra has to be retired.

MariedeGournay
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MariedeGournay

Read her entire post. It’s interesting how management’s dismissive misogyny towards community managers reflects Blizzard’s antagonistic relationship with the fandom. It really recontexualizes Blizzcon and other ‘outreach’ as a desire to be worshiped rather than actual communication. The fact that they threw her to the wolves after the Diablo Immortal announcement while other devs hid says it all.