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Activision Blizzard co-founder breaks silence over ‘disturbing’ harassment allegations: ‘I am ashamed’

Ed Nightingale July 26, 2021
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Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard logo. (Getty)

The co-founder of Activision Blizzard has written a statement in the wake of a lawsuit against the company due to harassment against women.

The lawsuit has been filed against the gaming giant by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for its “frat boy workplace culture”, in which female employees are abused and held to different standards than men.

In a statement on Twitter, Activision Blizzard co-founder and former CEO Mike Morhaime spoke of his shame.

“I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed,” he said. 

“It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.”

Morhaime worked for the company for 28 years and aimed for a safe and welcoming culture.

“The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better,” he said.

“I realise that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can.”

Morhaime is not alone. In the past few days, many others from Activision Blizzard have opined on the lawsuit and company culture.

Chris Metzen, former senior vice president of story and franchise development until 2016, said “we failed, and I’m sorry”.

“There is no excuse,” he continued. “We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary spaces for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can’t.”

Current Employee, Jeff Hamilton, who works as senior system designer on World of Warcraft tweeted that “Activision’s statement was terrible”.

“I believe strongly in equal treatment and equal protection. Regardless of gender or race, everyone deserves a safe and supportive environment in which to work and live,” he said.

“I am viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma that has been inflicted upon my coworkers, friends, and colleagues.

“I find Activision’s corporate response wholly unacceptable. I don’t stand by it, any of it. It is evil to usurp a victim’s story into a rhetorical bludgeon, and it is abhorrent to reply to these accusations with anything other than a well-thought-out plan to correct these abuses.”

Similarly, lead game designer Jeremy Feasel said the “statements made by [Activision Blizzard] do not represent us”.

Activision Blizzard’s response includes a statement that the DFEH have been “disgraceful and unprofessional” and, more recently, an internal email from executive vice president for Corporate Affairs Frances F Townsend, who claims the lawsuit is “distorted and untrue”.

Since the Activision Blizzard news broke, a video of a 2010 Blizzcon panel has gone viral, in which a woman poses a question to a panel of male employees about female representation in World of Warcraft and asks for them to be less sexualised.

The response is exemplary of the “frat boy” culture the lawsuit mentions.

Greg Street, a member of that panel, has since apologised saying: “Look, it was a sh*tty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well. I wish I had said something better then.”

For more gaming news, follow Gaymeo on Facebook and Twitter. You can also email us with any news or tips on [email protected]

Related topics: Activision Blizzard, misogyny

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