Riot defends women and non-binary seminars at PAX West

Riot’s decision to host a series of seminars focused toward women non-binary folk at PAX West caused another sexism-related storm around the studio – though this time the League of Legends developer has been accused of sexism for different reasons.

A post on the LoL site laid out Riot’s plans for PAX West, and included this snippet towards the end, after a list of plenty of other things the company was doing at the conference:

“In Room 613 we’re hosting a variety of sessions to support women and non-binary folks who are interested in getting into games professionally. Stop by to learn from and get to know some of the badass women of Riot!”

The reaction on Reddit and social media was what you would expect, but the vocal nature of responses from Riot employees – landing on both sides of the argument about this being a ‘sexist’ move, as it didn’t include men – surprised a little.

Daniel Klein, systems designer at Riot, made some of the more inflammatory comments – mainly about the Reddit reaction: “In the interest of justice, equality, and fairness,” he tweeted, “Men need to be excluded sometimes. That’s perfectly fine. Trust me, you’ll have about a billion other opportunities that these women won’t have. But no, you have to be absolute overgrown toddlers and throw hissy fits.”

Ryan ‘Morello’ Scott, Design Lead on an unannounced Riot project, also made his opinion known: “Taking extra time to find qualified candidates who aren’t in the process now is valuable,” he tweeted, “We’re not going to be hiring unqualified people just because they’re women. We’re not stealing a seat at the interview table from you.

“It’s much more likely for you to be mad about this if you’re both 1) unqualified yourself but 2) think you are and are eager to prove it instead of learn. One important aspect of it is to be good at being wrong and changing your mind. See this as an opportunity to practice.”

Riot itself also replied via a tweet, stating: "To help recruit women into gaming, we held PAX workshops for women and non-binary people. We’re proud of that and stand with Rioters at PAX. Regarding conversations about this, we need to emphasize that no matter how heated a discussion, we expect Rioters to act with respect."

The discussion will, of course, continue – but it’s definitely a positive step from Riot, a company so recently all over the news for terrible reasons. It would seem this ‘seven step’ approach to cleaning up its act is already having an impact, with employees emboldened to speak out about things they see as important to speak up on.

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