2021 Was When Trash Gaming Companies' Bill Came Due
Unless you’re a billionaire, Britney Spears, or the guy who wrote Squid Game, chances are 2021 was a trog. The video game industry also had a terrible year- with a series of gender discrimination lawsuits and scandals that kept making news right up to the bitter end. With the horrifying details of emerging, you might think this is the worst year yet for Gamers.
But actually, it’s probably the best year it’s ever had in terms of gender. Sure, there’s been a lot of news about gender discrimination at essentially every major gaming company, but that’s not because gender discrimination went way up this year. It’s because the bill is finally coming due.
Riot and its parent company Tencent made billions of dollars this year, without a doubt- but even for a company of that size, paying $100 million over gender discrimination isn’t something to write off without a care. Hopefully, whenever Riot HR gets a whiff of future sexual harassment, accounting will tell them it’s probably worth figuring out what happened and acting in the victim’s best interest because, otherwise, they may be on the hook for a lot of money. (Also, you know, it being the right thing to do.)
And even though Riot had some explosive news at the end of the year, they got off pretty easy compared to Blizzard.
In its own awkward way, this year actually did way more good than harm for the game development industry. It’s uncomfortable to admit, but the games we loved have been made overwhelmingly by companies fostering sexist, abusive environments and have for a long time. A clip of a Blizzard convention panel from 2010 resurfaced this year, showing the same leaders under fire in the California lawsuit making light of a woman asking for a female character who didn’t “-- look like they stepped out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog.”
That wasn’t news when it happened, but not because it wasn’t sexist, disappointing, or a huge red flag. And next time anyone at Blizzard is in a position to answer any questions about women in their games, we hope they’re not going to ask, “Which catalog would you like them to step out of?”
So yes, it’s awful to read about the frat-boy culture in Blizzard’s “cube crawls” and the recruiter at Riot who spent her entire tenure trying to hire any woman into a leadership role … and failed. 2021 wasn’t the first year that the games industry harassed their women employees to the tune of millions of dollars of damages; it was just the first year they had to pony up. Good. And now that Microsoft is planning on buying Blizzard, things should only impro-- ah, goddamnit.
Top Image: Blizzard, Riot