As Riot Games continues to be mired in sexual harassment allegations, one of the company’s higher-ups took to their own blog to address the matter on a personal level. Design director Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street went to his blog and posted his own thoughts and concerns over what’s been happening in the company, as well as the steps he’s been taking to understand it and correct it. Here’s a snippet from the post.
At the moment, I am doing a lot of listening to make sure the women on my team and at Riot feel like we hear them, we really understand their point of view, and we understand what they want changed.
Some of the episodes mentioned that qualify as harassment or worse are horrible and inexcusable, and I would not allow them on my teams. I have fired people for such behavior at Riot and also at Blizzard. It’s a dissatisfying ending to the story because you typically don’t announce why someone is being terminated, and that is particularly true if there is a victim involved that you want to protect. As a leader at Riot, I have to make sure that the rest of the organization doesn’t tolerate it either.
I am personally more worried about the chilling effect that can happen if women feel like their ideas are not being heard, or they don’t receive fair pay or opportunities for promotion. I take those problems really seriously and I would like to think that women who have been on my teams feel like they have been recognized for their accomplishments. But it would be more meaningful to ask the women.
While that sounds like an effort is being made, it kinda feels like too-little-too-late when you read other blog posts, like this one from former Riot Games employee Meagan Marie, who described her entire encounter of working with the company for six months before resigning. Here’s a bit from her blog.
My first month at Riot we had an opportunity to talk with one of the CEOs for an office-wide AMA. We were encouraged to submit questions anonymously. I submitted something that had bothered me for some time as a League player. I wondered why – other than the child characters and Yordles – nearly all the female champions had the exact same body type. The male champions were young, old, skinny, athletic, obese, handsome, monstrous, and more – they were unique and diverse. The most prevalent characteristic of female champions at the time was sex appeal. I wanted something more. I wanted to know when we would get a female equivalent of Gragas.
The senior staff liked the question so much that they requested I ask it live, rather than anonymously. I was apprehensive at first because I was so new, but I also understood that this was an important opportunity to directly challenge someone in a position of power who could make a change. Unfortunately, the response boiled down to “giving the players what they want”, to which I rebutted that Riot was big enough to influence player perception of what characters are cool or fun to play. I was very disappointed by the response, which felt dismissive of the issue. (As a side note, I was happy to see Riot’s efforts to diversify their female champions these past few years.)
After the meeting, I realized I had put a target on my back with some of the men in the office. I didn’t even make it to my desk before a male colleague came up and told me that “women don’t want to play unattractive champions. They want to feel beautiful.” I was stunned. A woman behind us audibly laughed at the fact that he was informing us of our gender’s gaming preferences. A few male coworkers also asked why I would like to see an “unattractive” female champion, or a plus size female champion, because “no one wants to look at that.” These were several of dozens of conversations I would have on the matter.
How do you feel about the current culture and situation at Riot Games?