Lawsuit, Diversity and Respect - a letter to Blizzard

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Lawsuit, Diversity and Respect - a letter to Blizzard

#1 Post by Nomine » Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:23 pm

We are Starlight, a World of Warcraft guild of 15 years standing. We have collectively invested over 100 years of our time into World of Warcraft, and into Blizzard. World of Warcraft has for us been a place where people could find community, forge friendships that made a lasting impact. It has been a safe haven for players across all walks of life, diversity of ethnicity, across the breadth of the LGBTQIA+ community, and providing somewhere where non-neurotypical players could meet openly and on equal terms.

We are responding to the lawsuit brought by California's Civil Rights Agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), against Activision Blizzard. Citing serious instances where women and men have been sexually harassed and suffered career disadvantage within the company, and stating that this is a systemic failure in the organisation. Activision Blizzard has responded officially denying that the charges truly describe today’s culture, claiming instances cited are inaccurate, historical and lack context. Leaders have also cited personal beliefs in equality, diversity and promotion on merit, and described actions they have taken to combat such harassment.

When the news first broke, we hoped that the first reaction of the company would be that of humility and sadness. We are sorry to say that we were disappointed.

Three things are clear.

Firstly, we all know that in the gaming industry (players) and in many gaming companies a culture exists that does not treat women as equals, that belittles and harasses and treats them as sex objects. With the best will in the world, this is a battle that is still being fought on all fronts and at all levels. In the words of one of Blizzard’s leaders “I’m not talking about platitudes and corporate bullshit statements. I’m talking about friends and colleagues working together to pull evil out by its roots.”

Secondly, it is clear that pretty much everyone involved - government, leaders, workers, players - believes the culture described in the lawsuit is abhorrent. Whether it is people protesting that action HAS been taken and that the picture is historic, or the women telling their stories saying it IS systemic and persists today.

Thirdly, Activision Blizzard today is not the company it was ten years ago. But, we also know that the foundation for what the company is today, its culture - is all the actions throughout its history, how good people helped build better games, all the mistakes that were made and lessons learned from those. A company's culture is built over time, it is the sum of the leadership and the workers. If a company does not understand this and it's past - there can be no change in the future.

Whether it is systemic or exists in pockets, we are all agreed on one thing.
We must pull this evil out by its roots.

Community and workplace safety

Community safety allows for better play, be it role-play, gameplay or the development of those. Simply put, safety makes the games better.
It allows for a better place to express ideas, be challenged and to grow. It makes it possible to trust, to open up, feel vulnerable, explore new options, even face our demons and share our experiences.

Community safety is designed and created through community norms, mentoring, conduct policies and other strategies that invite people to take part, to understand what behaviours are prohibited, tolerated and encouraged in an organisation. It is an ongoing and dynamic process among members, leaders and outsiders. Committing to this process means we also commit to recognising when we are not doing a good enough job, and seeking to learn from our mistakes.

Starlight holds the values of community safety, inclusivity, in high regard. We have seen and felt the importance these values hold - to us as a community, as individuals.

As a guild, Starlight works every day to make our community a safe place, a community you wish to be part of and contribute towards. We stand with everyone committed to the same cause within Activision Blizzard.

  • We stand with the people working for Blizzard whose lives have been disrupted and diminished and made stressful because they have been targeted.
  • We stand with the people who have been targeted by sexual harassment, who has been forced to face behaviour that has no place in the work- or private lives.
  • We stand with every co-worker who interrupts and challenges the subtle manipulations - whether these are off-colour ‘jokes’, or constantly talking over another person, or sexual remarks. These everyday heroes must not be tarred by association because other people in their company conduct themselves in ways that are harmful to others.
  • We stand with good managers and leaders who fight against harassment and disrespect, and stand as shining examples of diverse, equal and constantly learning workplaces.
  • We stand with all those everywhere who were and are subject to maltreatment. Making your voice heard when others are doing their best to silence it is hard. But every voice that speaks up carries the message of so many others who have had their voice taken. When you stand up for yourself, you stand up for me, too.

The lawsuit is important because it brings the dark aspects into the light. But fighting the lawsuit is not the focus. We must ALL - leaders, managers, the targeted and their co-workers, the players and the guilds - humbly commit to raising our efforts to a new level to root out this evil.

We challenge Activision Blizzard to lead the way and pull out the evil by its roots.. Show us that the heroes don’t only exist in your games - that they are also within the company itself!

Nomine/Guildleader of Starlight, on behalf of Starlight.


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Re: Lawsuit, Diversity and Respect - a letter to Blizzard

#2 Post by Nomine » Fri Jul 30, 2021 8:23 pm

We got a reply from Blizzard.

Hello Kai,

I’m Sebastien from the Blizzard EMEA Community Team, and part of our role is to work with the WoW Community in the region, help address concerns and share the Community’s feedback with our wider Blizzard teams.
Your email was passed onto us by colleagues on the PR Team and we wanted to respond to you as soon as we could.

Thank you very much for getting in touch with your letter. We appreciate your Guild reaching out and wish to reassure you that we value diversity and a supportive and inclusive workplace for everyone.
As part of that, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has shared his commitment to long-lasting change and outlined immediate actions that will be taken – please see his statement here for more detail on what this means. (The link ... 1NsSAJPkMD$ )

Many thanks,

Seb Gouaux
Community lead EMEA
Blizzard Entertainment

While I know this is one reply among many they are likely to be sending out with the same content. I appreciate that they took the time to reply to us, and it shows that the message got read by Blizzard.
I hope, and trust we are one voice among many others 🙂

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Re: Lawsuit, Diversity and Respect - a letter to Blizzard

#3 Post by Nomine » Mon Aug 02, 2021 10:54 am

Follow up from Blizzard:

My reply to them:
Hi Sebastien,

On behalf of Starlight - thank you very much for your response. It is greatly appreciated and we will be watching how things develop, some of the actions are very welcome - such as removing some "undesired" references in the Warcraft game.
But most of all, speaking as somebody who has worked on all levels of customer service, as well as Leadership and Development. I really appreciate that what you linked is Bobby Kotick`s letter to the employees. It shows a much better understanding of our - as a guild- concerns and hopes than linking one of the public statements to the world would have done.

Here is for a better tomorrow, with heroes outside and inside the games.

Kind regards,
Kai S Fredriksen/Nomine - Starlight.
Their Reply:
No problem at all Kai. And I hope you had a good weekend!
Obviously, this initial message has been reviewed by several departments, but the intent remains there.
On a more personal note now, I am currently transitioning from CS where I serve as a team manager (small world) so let’s maybe circle back later in August and see how we could potentially help this beautiful community because your message / guild is extremely inspiring.

Also of course feel free to email me directly if need be.

Take care and stay safe!

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