I have to be honest, I did not have “Bungie models good corporate behavior for the gaming industry” in my predictions for 2021, but here we are, and the Destiny studio just keeps making all the right moves. To wit: The company released a pair of dev blogs yesterday focused on its diversity and accessibility efforts.
The first blog covers the studio’s accessibility plan; indeed, it’s formed an “inclusion club” for accessibility that joins similar clubs for Blacks, trans people, and women within the company. “Its mission is to educate everyone in the company on identifying barriers, to improve workplace accessibility, to make material improvements to the playability of Bungie’s games, and to partner with organizations within the gaming industry who are dedicated to game accessibility,” the team says. And the club isn’t just to make workers’ experience more accessible; it’s focused on making the game more accessible too. For example, some weapons are due for auto-fire changes to make it easier for folks with hand issues to play.
The second blog is from CEO Pete Parsons and includes a indirect reference to Activision-Blizzard’s woes in his update on diversity and inclusion in the studio. He notes that Bungie has pulled in a new Diversity and Inclusion lead and a Chief People Officer; bolstered the board of directors and executive team (“members of underrepresented communities comprise 50% of Bungie’s board” while “four of the nine representatives of Bungie’s executive team are women or members of Underrepresented Communities”); and will be reviewing hiring, promotion, and compensation processes to reduce bias. It’s also adding a “third-party, anonymous reporting tool” to make reporting easier.
Perhaps most notably, Bungie says it will be “eliminating the mandatory arbitration clause in all [its] employee agreements, given the growing concern that arbitration may not be the fairest way to resolve employment complaints.” Readers will recall that this is one of the four key points that Activision-Blizzard’s workers have demanded, though of course Activision-Blizzard has not acknowledged those demands. The end of mandatory arbitration is also something that Riot workers have been seeking for several years now. But hey, here’s Bungie, giving it to its employees who didn’t even have to suffer a lawsuit scandal or the death of their own colleague to get it.