When Activision Blizzard first faced accusations of fostering a toxic and abusive workplace – especially for women – it responded in multiple, seemingly contradictory ways. While it promised to terminate those who enabled abuse, Bobby Kotick is keeping his job. While saying that management would "protect marginalized groups", it stops them from unionizing. For this reason, many were sceptical when Activision Blizzard revealed it would become a sponsor of Women in Game International.
Now, WIGI is under fire for both taking this money, and using it to host a GDC after party this week. One attendee describes the event as a "men's preying ground", and another says that some men in attendance were "predatory".
Beth Beinke spoke out about WIGI's GDC after party on Thursday. She says "there were several inappropriate men there", one of which she had to ask to stop touching her.
Jessica Gonzalez, who used to work at Activision Blizzard herself, also spoke of the event in the replies. "It was SHOCKING that they even held something like that", Gonzalez writes. "Not only didn’t they read the room they straight up set up a formula for predatory men to prey on aspiring/established women devs."
In the early hours of Friday morning, Javiera Corder shared that "several women were assaulted" at the party. She has called on WIGI to respond to the complaints, saying, "it is reasonable to demand accountability from @GETWIGI on why this event was allowed to take place in a nightclub."
Beinke later shared that she has now discussed these concerns with WIGI's CEO,
Joanie Kraut. "We disagreed on higher-level decisions/suggestions, but she was concerned + was interested in my smaller suggestions", Beinke said. "I HOPE we see at MINIMUM a Code of Conduct + enforcers/contact info at future WIGI events."
The gaming industry's fixation on alcohol focused events has long been criticized, with many feeling that it is inappropriate to hold these while many companies root out abusive behaviour. Companies such as Rockstar have further been criticized for allegedly holding work-trips in nightclubs and strip clubs.
Women in Games International was contacted for comment, but has not responded at the time of publication.
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