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Activision Blizzard accused of routinely deadnaming trans staff

Ed Nightingale August 13, 2021
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Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard logo. (Getty)

Trans staff at Activision Blizzard are routinely deadnamed, it has been alleged, with one worker reporting that teammates refused to use their pronouns and instead made transphobic jokes.

A new report from Kotaku details the working conditions of the quality assurance (QA) team, including long hours, low pay, and instability.

It follows the wave of reports and allegations of sexual harassment and poor working conditions in the wake of the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

According to the report, many QA employees work 50 – 60 hour weeks and, although no specifics have been shared, salary rates are considered low. Activision Blizzard has since confirmed that overtime is voluntary.

With many QA employees on contract, they also do not receive the usual company benefits.

The report includes stories of trans employees being deadnamed.

Many of the internal programmes “almost always default to legal names” according to one QA tester.

Changing the name requires a complex process involving the HR department, but even then programmes often repeatedly reset the names of employees.

“This puts us at risk of randomly being outed as transgender, which is incredibly disrespectful,” says QA tester Andrew. “HR is aware of this issue and has supposedly been talking with others to get the issue fixed, but this has been going on for [at least] a year.”

Andrew is trans and has “received nothing but respect in regards to [his] gender identity”, but not everyone has had that experience.

Billy, another member of the team, requested their teammates address them with they/them pronouns. Those teammates, all male, repeatedly refused.

“[One] squad member made the classic ‘joke,’ ‘I identify as an attack helicopter,’ while sitting a few seats down from me,” said Billy. “No one said anything to correct it.”

When Billy contacted the HR department to request further sensitivity training for all staff, they didn’t hear back for months.

“Upon joining, every Activision Blizzard employee is required to take training on our Code of Conduct, which they must then review and affirm annually,” an Activision Blizzard representative has since told Kotaku.

One anonymous tester surmised: “The legacy of Blizzard is all about, ‘You’re working for Blizzard, aren’t you lucky?’ But the reality is that we are constantly dealing with difficult people, in a culture that cares little for mental health and expects the same kind of ‘smile-all-the-time’ as retail does.

“The only way for this to truly change is to change the culture and the attitude of the people in charge.”

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Related topics: Activision Blizzard

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