Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, has responded to an investigation into the studio which alleged a toxic ‘bro culture’ of ingrained sexism runs through the company.
The original article appeared on Kotaku this past Tuesday, involving around five months of research and including contributions from dozens of members of Riot staff both past and present. It paints a picture of a studio with a systemic culture of sexism – and while not all female employees have experienced said treatment, it doesn’t make for positive reading.
The piece included stories from employees concerning subjects like female employees being overlooked for promotions as a direct result of turning down a male manager’s advances, derogatory comments aimed at female employees, and a general culture that rewards aggression and volume over other forms of discourse.
In response to the piece, Riot provided a statement to GamesBeat, which did not deny any of the accusations in Kotaku’s article. The statement read:
“This article shines a light on areas where we haven’t lived up to our own values, which will not stand at Riot. We’ve taken action against many of the specific instances in the article, and we’re committed to digging in, addressing every issue, and fixing the underlying causes. All Rioters must be accountable for creating an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard, grow their role, advance in the organization, and fulfil their potential.”
The statement goes on to claim Riot has had a zero tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, bullying or toxicity since day one, and resources behind the studio’s Diversity & Inclusion programs have been increased as business has grown.
The statement continues: “We recognize we still have work to do to achieve our goals, which starts with listening to feedback from Rioters and others, and providing Rioters with the guidance and resources they need to uphold our values.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of harassment in the games industry workplace this year – or even in the past few weeks – and it certainly won’t be the last. Hopefully people are starting to listen and engage in the issues, though, and high profile cases like this could prove a catalyst for helping to eliminate similar toxic cultures altogether.