Testimonies from women against major players in the video game industry, accused of harassment or even sexual assault, have been flowing on the internet for more than a week now. A speech liberation movement of unprecedented scale.
The accusations against Chris Avellone, reputed writer of the medium who worked on Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity or Alpha Protocol, were one of the triggers of the movement. On Saturday June 20, a certain Karissa published a long story on Twitter, telling how the author would have intoxicated her then sexually assaulted her during a convention several years ago. Other testimonies of women describing abusive behavior on the part of Avellone quickly surfaced, notably in the columns of Kotaku. Without denying or clearly acknowledging the facts publicly, the person concerned apologized to several accusers. Two days later, Techland (Dying Light 2), Paradox Interactive (Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines 2) et Wild cat (The Waylanders) each issued a press release and distanced themselves from the author.
Since then, stories have multiplied on social networks, denouncing the excesses in certain teams or very specific people in the industry. Some refer to cases of sexual harassment, others to threats, sexual assault or racist, sexist and homophobic comments, which sometimes date back several years. Difficult to verify, there are so many serious accusations that it is “impossible to count everything”, sorry the writer Meghna Jayanth, who relayed many of these speeches on his Twitter profile.
Ubisoft under fire
In the lot, a name stands out regularly: that of Ubisoft, one of the largest employers in the industry with its thousands of employees across the globe. The testimonies, anonymous or not, concern the firm’s offices at Canada, but also to United States, in Bulgaria, in Sweden one and one France, sometimes targeting by name certain high-ranking employees. The human resources department is repeatedly singled out for its inaction to face these abuses and to have protected certain alleged attackers.
Ubisoft reacted quickly in a press release, indicating that it was taking the situation “very seriously”.
Regarding the recent allegations made against certain members of Ubisoft’s teams: we would like to begin by apologizing to all those affected – we are sincerely sorry. We are committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment for our teams, our players and our communities. It is clear that we have failed to achieve this goal. We have to do better. We launched investigations into the allegations with the support of specialized external consultants. Based on their findings, we agree to take all appropriate disciplinary action. As these investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment further. We also audit our existing policies, procedures and systems to understand where they have failed, and to ensure that we can better prevent, detect and punish inappropriate behavior. We will share with our teams the additional measures that we are implementing in the coming days. Our goal is to foster an environment that our employees, partners and communities can be proud of, an environment that reflects our values and is safe for everyone. Ubisoft press release of June 25.
The Solidaires Informatique Ubisoft Paris union also spoke in one communicated dated June 26, and states that it “it is not only a few isolated cases, the exclusion of which alone would be enough to solve the problem, but a systemic question, which seems to have been massively tolerated and for a long time”. He therefore asks the company to “take responsibility and undertake in-depth changes, identifying all the people, mechanisms and culture that enabled and protected his violence and radically changing it, rather than a few layoffs, external communication and damage control”. According to information from Bloomberg, Ubisoft would have laid off two people, both vice-presidents of the editorial team, the first in Paris, the second in Toronto, as well as several other employees. Spokesperson Stéphanie Magnier indicated that the company will not make any other comments during the investigation of the accusations against its employees.
Insomniac Games is also concerned by this wave of accusations and posted two tweets in response to messages from a former employee, concerning a dozen women who were allegedly assigned and forced to resign by the management of the studio. It would have protected several sexual predators, according to our colleagues from gamesindustry.
We were aware of the allegations made today in the tweets of a former employee and we had taken many steps to address them. For legal and confidentiality reasons, we will not respond to individual allegations regarding specific former employees. We are a family workplace that has always actively promoted diversity, inclusion, representation and equality. We will continue to do this every day. Insomniac Games press release of June 23.
Twitch streamers also denounced
This is not the first time that this type of testimony has come out publicly, but the phenomenon here takes on an unprecedented scale and does not stop at a handful of cases, as was the case. last august with charges against composer Jeremy Soule and independent developer Alec Holowka. The whole sector seems shaken, including the medium of streaming. A document Google Posted on June 23 by streamer Jessica Richey has more than 260 accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, mainly targeting American content creators and esports figures. Many of them have been permanently banned, some having admitted the facts by making a public apology, such as iAmSpoon and BlessRNG. Twitch cracked release following June 24 boycott day “TwitchBlackout”, organized to denounce the lack of reaction of the platform to harassment cases.
We examine each of the cases brought to our attention as soon as possible, while carrying out the necessary verifications. We prioritize the most serious cases and will start banning certain accounts permanently. In many cases, the reported incidents took place outside of Twitch, and we need to gather more information to guide our decisions. In some cases, we will need to approach the authorities, who are better placed to conduct successful investigations. Twitch release June 24.
By Clementoss, Editing jeuxvideo.com