Near the end of every year we look back and lie to ourselves about how well we can sum up what we’ve just been through, cherry-picking a few choice moments when the world seemed to shift in momentous ways.
The truth is, things are always in flux; we’re all just trying to keep our feet amid the slow roll of an uncaring universe. But as we look to the year ahead, it’s reassuring to glance back at 2019 and reflect on some of the big shake-ups still reverberating through the industry.
Riot employees walk out in protest
Back in May over 150 Riot employees made history by taking part in a walkout to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the company, which at the time was pushing two employees involved in an ongoing gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit into arbitration.
It’s the largest staff walkout ever witnessed in the game industry, and employees spent it speaking publicly about their issues with Riot, blasting the company for (among other things) putting mandatory arbitration clauses in employee contracts.
The protest made a significant mark: Riot eventually agreed to scrap the clauses for all new employees, though protestors are still pressing for them to be removed from existing contracts. By December, the company had agreed to pay $10 million to settle the gender discrimination lawsuit, which seems a pittance when you consider it’s meant to be paid out among the hundreds of people who identify as women that Riot has employed since November of 2014.
Riot staffers participating in the walkout, photographed by Dania Maxwell for the Los Angeles Times
Now, even as Riot works to build excitement for a slew of new projects, the game industry waits to see whether it will put its house in order. As game developers around the world continue to deal with problematic labor conditions, the efforts of the Riot devs who walked out for what they believe in reveal how much game industry laborers can accomplish when they work together.
Activision Blizzard lays off ~800 people after historic financial gains
“While our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated in an
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