League of Legends creator Riot Games under fire over alleged sexist practices at the studio

In a scathing piece posted on Kotaku, current and former employees describe a toxic culture that encouraged harassment and denied female employee advancement.

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League of Legends is one of, if not the most popular games on the planet. The free to play MOBA launched nearly a decade ago and has grown into a phenomenon that proudly boasts hundreds of millions of players. League of Legends developer Riot Games employs over 2500 people across the globe and is one of the biggest esports sponsors and organizers in the world. While the game is a massive success and the company is ever growing, some current and former employees have gone on record saying that the work culture at Riot is rife with harassment and unfairly impedes its female employees from advancement within the company. In a new report posted on Kotaku, multiple employees describe Riot Games as a workplace rife with sexism.

“The ‘bro culture’ there is so real,” said a former female employee. “It’s agonizingly real. It’s like working at a giant fraternity.” The Kotaku report includes anecdotes from both male and female employees describing the exchange and display of unsolicited pictures of male genitalia and an alleged list of female staff of whom senior male leadership would like to sleep with.

The report goes on to describe other examples of the culture at Riot, along with the company’s attempts to change and improve its workplace policy towards discrimination and sexism. Some of the staffers interview by Kotaku claim that the company’s insistence on bringing in only “core gamers” leads to only one type of person being hired and advanced, to the detriment of the company and its posted policy.  

Riot Games has since responded to the report with this statement:

“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 fulfill their potential.

From the beginning we’ve had a zero tolerance policy on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, bullying, and toxicity. As we’ve grown, we’ve made progress, and we’ve continued to put resources behind our Diversity & Inclusion programs as part of constantly improving Riot. 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. You can read more about our D&I work here.”

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      August 8, 2018 2:20 PM

      Is it really that hard to be a decent human being?

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 2:25 PM

        Yes.

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 2:44 PM

        People have been struggling with it throughout history so, maybe?

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 2:46 PM

        Apparently there's a lot of fucking worthless human beings out there.

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 2:48 PM

        yep

        Over the course of several months, Kotaku has spoken to 28 current and former Riot employees, many of whom came forward with stories that echo Lacy’s.

        • reply
          August 8, 2018 2:55 PM

          ohhhhhhh.

          “It is drilled into [our employees] that player focus is the thing we aspire to be our north star,” adding, “That’s why we hire gamers and only gamers because the difference between a great decision and a terrible one is how it relates to players.”

          hiring toxic people to actually be employees? and it backfired spectacularly?

          Game data company Quantic Foundry surveyed over 270,000 gamers worldwide between July 2015 and January 2017 on what game titles they enjoy playing and reported that only 10% of gamers who play MOBAs are female. For first-person shooters, that number is 7%.

          WE HIRE GAMERS ONLY

          derp

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 3:22 PM

        It's easy to abuse power and position.

      • reply
        August 8, 2018 5:35 PM

        Apparently.

    • reply
      August 8, 2018 3:23 PM

      They took a lot of flak for trying to prune toxicity from their community. Looks like they lived long enough to see themselves become the villain.