In search of accountability from their employer, numerous Activision Blizzard Entertainment employees participated in an organized walkout in response to allegations of sexual assault against the video game publisher, demanding changes in workplace equality.
During the walkout on Wednesday, July 28, we secured interviews with an Activision and a Blizzard employee in attendance. While both opted to keep their identities anonymous for this story, both echoed statements in support of the victims that have been made public and those that have remained private.
However, both continued to reiterate that leadership at Blizzard has yet to show true accountability. The Blizzard employee explained the purpose of the walkout was to stand with fellow Blizzard employees and to ensure leadership continues to take responsibility for the damage it has caused.
“The purpose of this walkout is, first and foremost, solidarity for the victims of the lawsuit, and also victims not mentioned in the lawsuit,” the employee said. “It’s also a call to action for the demands that were publicly posted — and it’s also a request for accountability — that we have not received yet.”
The Activision employee added they hoped Wednesday’s walkout can create a ripple effect throughout the gaming industry. “I think primarily we want people to know that they aren’t alone. It can be very isolating when instances in the lawsuit happen, because most of the time people are afraid to speak out in fear of retaliation. It’s a giant industry, but a lot of people know a lot of people. It’s similar to film in that way — if you talk to someone, they’ll know someone who knows someone.”
Blizzard has come under scrutiny as a lawsuit was filed against the World of Warcraft creator by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for several accusations including sexual harassment and unequal pay.
After the lawsuit became public, Blizzard and Activision employees have continued to mobilize, with thousands signing an open letter calling for improvement, culminating in a walkout, with fans even participating digitally by not playing Blizzard games, and hosting virtual walkouts.
“We have organized this in a pandemic, and we’ve come together to make this possible — this is the first time that most of us have seen each other, and this is the first time many of us are meeting — the pandemic certainly has not gotten in the way of any kind of solidarity and support,” the Blizzard employee told us.
With allegations of cyclical workplace inequality now hovering over the video game giant, some might wonder what working within these conditions would be like.
Not easy, according to the Blizzard employee.
Based on the magnitude of accusations against the company, the Blizzard employee added that the situation has impacted creativity at the workplace, but would not call it a distraction.
“I can’t think of something as a distraction when it is life-ruining for somebody. For me, my creativity is my co-workers. I am inspired by my co-workers. When my coworkers are in pain, I can’t be creative, because all I can think about is my co-workers.”
Still, while a passion for gaming remains a crux for so many developers at Activision Blizzard, many say a thirst for communal creativity is reason enough to work now, in hopes for future change.
“We come to Activision Blizzard because we love to make games, and when things like the allegations in the lawsuit come up, they remind us of the harsh reality of our surroundings.” ❖