World of Warcraft: Players show solidarity with Blizzard employees

World of Warcraft: Players show solidarity with Blizzard employees

World of Warcraft

In the wake of the current sexism scandal surrounding Activision Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment, the employees called for a large protest yesterday. In the California headquarters they performed a joint "walkout" and left the Blizzard premises closed for several hours in order to set an example and to enforce some demands for better working conditions. This action drew wider circles: Even in the MMO World of Warcraft, numerous players showed solidarity with the Blizzard employees.

As a video by Reddit user "LullabyGaming" shows, several players had gathered, to also perform a "walkout" in World of Warcraft (buy now 14.99 €). For this purpose, they met at an agreed location, then plunged into the depths together or logged out as a group. Actions of this kind took place on several World of Warcraft servers around the world and clearly showed that many players are on the side of the Blizzard staff. In this way, the community has made a very impressive statement in the context of the great controversy.

Recommended editorial content At this point you will find external content from [PLATTFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. In the meantime, Activision Blizzard is working hard to smooth things over and avoid major damage. So recently the CEO Bobby Kotick spoke up with a detailed letter to the employees. In it, he not only apologized for the company's initially inappropriate reactions, but also promised to take the matter very seriously and to take appropriate steps. Incidentally, the sexism scandal caused the stock price of Activision Blizzard to collapse.


World of Warcraft responds to Activision Blizzard sexual abuse scandal

In the midst of a shocking sexual harassment and discrimination scandal at the video game company Activision Blizzard, the team behind World of Warcraft released a statement voicing support for the women who came forward and promising to make Warcraft more inclusive. This arrived the same day as Activision Blizzard workers walked out in protest against their employers, appalled by the allegations coming to light.

These allegations became public due to a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, the parent company for the studios behind several A-list gaming properties including Call of Duty, Diablo, Guitar Hero, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The company is accused of creating an abusive work environment where women faced constant sexual harassment, including “cube crawls” in which drunk male employees would harass their female coworkers, and one instance in which a female employee took her own life during a business trip with a male supervisor after her colleagues shared nude photos of her at a holiday party.

The game developer Blizzard was highlighted for its “frat boy culture,” such as the existence of the so-called “Cosby suite,” named after Bill Cosby who recently had his sexual assault conviction overturned but has been accused by 60 women of sexual assault or harassment. This hotel suite at the 2013 BlizzCon convention was allegedly used by former Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi to sexually harass women under the guise of professional networking. (Afrasiabi was fired for “misconduct” in 2020.)

Other Blizzard employees knew about the room, and Kotaku obtained photos, social media comments, and inside sources reporting that it was a party room used by many people, some of whom joked about hitting on women at the convention. Some sources argued that the suite’s nickname was actually a reference to the rooms having old-fashioned decor like Bill Cosby’s signature sweaters, but the prevalence of Cosby jokes and sexual harassment still played into Blizzard’s allegedly unsafe and unwelcoming atmosphere for women.

This lawsuit is already a huge scandal within the games industry, with some gamers organizing boycotts against Blizzard Activision games in support of the employee walkouts. While its parent company struggles to control the fallout, World of Warcraft shared a public statement representing the sentiments of its own internal team. It describes the past few days as a period “full of sadness, pain, and anger, but also hope and resolve,” promising to “heed the brave women” who came forward with allegations of discrimination and harassment.

The statement also pledged to make Warcraft more inclusive, including the removal of “references that are not appropriate for our world” within the franchise. There’s speculation that this will involve changing or deleting characters created by Afrasiabi, which now make some players deeply uncomfortable. Some elements of the Warcraft franchise have already faced criticism for their misogynistic content, such as a quest involving the torture of a semi-nude female monster.

The Blizzard Activision lawsuit is reawakening many ongoing conversations about sexism and discrimination in the games industry, highlighting harassment scandals at other companies and public incidents that shaped people’s view of Blizzard as a particularly non-inclusive brand. One viral incident involved a video from BlizzCon 2010, in which a woman asked an all-male Blizzard panel about the sexualization of female characters in World of Warcraft, commenting that they all looked like Victoria’s Secret models. The question was delivered in a friendly manner, avoiding an accusatory tone, but the panelists refused to take it seriously, cracking jokes about the sex appeal of Warcraft‘s women.

One of the original panelists, former World of Warcraft lead designer Greg Street, responded with an apologetic Twitter thread last week. “Look, it was a shitty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well,” he wrote. But while this was a relatively minor incident compared to the allegations in the Blizzard Activision lawsuit, this video still helps to confirm Blizzard’s image as a sexist brand that requires intensive, wide-ranging improvements to its workplace culture.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Activision Blizzard.

If you are a victim of sexual assault or want more information on sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

More essential culture reads

*First Published: Jul 29, 2021, 9:04 am CDT

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor