In response to abusive working conditions at games studios worldwide, specifically to recent reporting about the conditions at Activision Blizzard
Last year I wrote the post ‘(n)on existence’ for this blog, in which I gave the faintest praise to Activision Blizzard for their non-binary character option in Call of Duty: Cold War, and Ubisoft for removing a transphobic podcast host from Watch Dogs: Legion, as representing more progressive recognition than my own government. In that article I wrote:
“Games companies aren’t our friends, no company is your friend, but at least they’ve given me the basic minimum of recognition and action before my own government even.”
I now recognise that this was too much praise, much more than these companies deserve for propagating harm during this time. These actions, that represent less than the bare minimum of what people of marginalised gender identities deserve, are not to be seen as in any way redeeming a culture of deep abuse from mostly cis-het men, and their enablers, that has been reported in companies like Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, not to mention countless other examples, (Valve, Apple, Naughty Dog, Riot, Quantic Dream, and reporting sites like Kotaku) and that we allow to fall out of sight in the games industry year after year.
There is no solidarity from the actions of a company’s management, in mildly accepting my identity, that could possibly erase the internal promotion of abuse and sexual assault. It is clear that games workers, from the very largest, to the very smallest scales, in development, in social media teams, in mining the minerals that make the consoles, are experiencing heinous conditions, upheld by the worst in patriarchal capitalism. It is imperative that those responsible for creating and maintaining these structures be removed from the games that we make, play and report on, and that we actively support and promote cultures of intolerance towards abuse. It is absurd that this isn’t already the case.
If this does not happen, we will continue to memory-hole these moments, and nothing can change. We will continue to loudly announce, “games are bad”, while doing nothing. We will continue to placate the extremist views of abusers and their fanbases, and games will continue to be further associated with and involved in abuse. Unless we continue to push.
The mentioned article has now been removed, and some of the writing it linked to has been pasted at the bottom here.
Support initiatives that promote and protect a diverse range of workers in games affected by hostile and dangerous working conditions.
Learn about the conflict minerals that are in your tech, demand better.
Insist the management of major games and tech companies are made accountable for perpetrating and allowing the abuse and assault of their workers, for their environmental impact, for their tax avoidance.
Deny games led by known abusers coverage or play.
Buy your games from independent creators and small co-operatives.
Join a union. Start a union. Demand better.
- Claude Cahun Is the Gender-Nonconforming Anti-Fascist Hero We Deserve by Hugh Ryan
- ‘Fuck your gender norms: how Western colonisation brought unwanted binaries to Igbo culture‘ by Chidera Ihejirika
- ‘Living with Colonialism: thoughts on the gender binary’ by Gayathiri Kamalakanthan
- “On 14 September 2020, the employment tribunal ruled that the gender reassignment protections afforded by section 7 of the Equality Act 2010 should be read to include those who identify as non-binary and/or gender fluid.” – ‘Non-binary/gender fluid claimants‘ by Lizzie Hardy