When it comes to video games, no company is more well-known than Activision Blizzard. And even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve likely played the games. This is because from its inception in 2008 when two companies merged, it has been producing games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and the Candy Crush Saga.
The Activision Blizzard scandal is a tale of allegations of sexual harassment, humiliation, discrimination, and sometimes assault within the company. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the company to not only address, but stop the inappropriate treatment of employees.
Before you set out on your next gaming adventure, keep reading to learn more about the Activision Blizzard organization and the scandal that is putting the company’s workplace environment in the spotlight.
What is Activision Blizzard?
Activision Blizzard is the holding company for many of the operating units that produce some of the most popular video games in the world. While the company is known to have several divisions underneath, they also operate game production under three particular units: Activision, Blizzard, and King.
This operating unit is responsible for franchises such as Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, and many other games. The division is a worldwide leader in the development of many of the interactive entertainment games that you may encounter.
Call of Duty is a first-person shooter game originally came on the scene in 2003 and has since produced various versions. Players of the game are allowed to participate either individually or with multiple players to simulate war campaigns and battles. Players use various weapons and explosives to battle it out with opponents in the war zone.
This particular game is known as one of the best-selling video games in the industry. It is recommended for people who are seventeen years old and up. This is due to the violence, mature content, and profanity.
The Blizzard unit is also a premier division under the holding company that is responsible for producing games franchises such as World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and many more. This is the part of the company that was merged in 2008 to form the name of the overall company, Activision Blizzard.
WoW, as it is commonly referred to by its players, is an MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This means that at any given time, millions of people could be playing this game based on fantasy and different beings who use strategy to battle each other.
Since its release in 2004, this game has gone through several expansions and updates. Played by more than twelve million people, many are intrigued by a large number of various creatures within the game.
The third operating unit under the Activision name is King. This part of the company focuses on mobile games such as the Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue, Bubble Witch, and many more. These are games that are typically played on tablets and phones by many people all over the world.
The Candy Crush Saga is a sweet game produced by King, which is one of the franchises under Activision Blizzard. This game, which is one of the most popular free-to-play matching games, has been crushing it since 2012.
The premise of the game is to match three sweet treats to complete a puzzle at various levels. It is said to be an “epic journey” full of sweet surprises along the way.
What is the Activision Blizzard Scandal?
Even though Activision Blizzard had been named by Fortune to be “100 Best Companies to Work For” for five consecutive years, they have recently come under scrutiny for many reasons.
The recent scandal that depicts a different story behind the work environment for this widely known company has brought about many questions. The claims include sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation from previously brought-up investigation complaints.
These complaints have come from many different people and are said to include gender and diversity issues at the forefront. Many people working for the company have expressed that they feel unsafe and uncomfortable most of the time while they are at work.
The allegations include a work environment that objectifies women’s bodies, which is seen in some of the video games. Additionally, openly inappropriate banter from the male employees which oftentimes included jokes about rape became part of the culture in the office.
Female employees also reported incidents of male employees making unwanted advances towards them and other women in the workplace. This included what was called a “cube crawl” which entailed the men drinking quite a bit of alcohol then going from cubicle to cubicle participating in inappropriate behavior towards women.
While the sexual harassment has been said to have been directed mostly at women, there were also complaints from male employees who claim they were also victims of this behavior. From inappropriate comments to physical groping and touching, these behaviors have become commonplace according to current and former employees.
In addition to the other allegations of misconduct, discrimination is also brought up in the lawsuit. Gender and racial discrimination were also at the forefront of the scandal. There are reports of many instances of women and people of color who have not been treated fairly within the walls of the Activision Blizzard organization.
While the majority of the employees of Activision Blizzard are males, the female population has increased over the years. However, these women were said to be often denied promotions because of the possibility of becoming pregnant. In addition, women who had to leave to pick up children from schools and daycares were often criticized.
Amongst the allegations, racial discrimination has also been said to be a problem within the culture of the company. Some of the accusations stated that a black woman was not able to advance in her career as quickly as male employees who were employed at a later time. Inconsistent protocols when asking for time off and doing daily work were also reported.
Activision Blizzard’s Response
In light of the allegations against the Activision Blizzard organization, there have been many responses, some coming from the upper management within the company. Although much of this response has been inconsistent, the bottom line is that they are said to be working with investigators to get to the bottom of the situation to stop all of the aforementioned practices.
How Has the Situation Affected Gaming?
In response to the lawsuit, many current and former employees signed an open letter against the company for not only the wrongdoing of fellow employees but also against several of the upper management for not supporting the allegations when they were originally brought to them.
While the current employees staged a walkout on July 28, 2021, to demand changes against the unfair treatment of employees, fans around the world also stood beside them in various ways. The public asked players of the various games to not log into them on this day as well. And some players have flat out boycotted the games until the situation is rectified.
As a result, fans from all over stood up against the injustice of the inappropriate and unfair treatment of employees of Activision Blizzard. Many have called for an industry change as allegations that the same has occurred at many other video game companies.
In conclusion, while this scandal against Activision Blizzard has brought to light just how dire the work environment has been for specific demographics, it has also brought the opportunity to make changes. Since being brought into the spotlight, the organization will need to make many changes to turn the company around and make players once again proud to play their games.