The Activision Blizzard Harassment Suit Feels Painfully Familiar

The Activision Blizzard Harassment Suit Feels Painfully Familiar

Gaming behemoth Activision Blizzard is the latest game company to face scrutiny for allegedly fostering a culture of sexism. A California Department of Fair Employment and Housing suit filed Wednesday alleges rampant sexual harassment and discrimination against Activision Blizzard’s female employees. The suit’s spotlight on Activision Blizzard’s structures and systems are painfully similar to those exposed by lawsuits and exposés around Riot Games and Ubisoft from the last several years.The games industry’s reckoning with workplace inequality has been underway for years. Leading companies have been slow, even reticent, to answer for their reportedly discriminatory cultures, in some cases architecting fortresses of asylum around their more problematic employees and systems. Activision Blizzard has the opportunity to set a different tone. As of now, it seems unlikely to.The games industry is notoriously male-dominated, and has long had a reputation for hostility to women. The 29-page DFEH complaint follows a two-year investigation into Activision Blizzard — publisher of high-profile titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch — and contains hair-raising allegations of misconduct, from harassment by top executives to so-called “cube crawls,” in which male employees would reportedly “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they ‘crawl’ their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”