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Major game studio Riot Games apologizes after being accused of sexist culture, vows to change



Riot Games

  • The maker of the enormously popular game “League of
    Legends,” Riot Games, is a massive game studio with thousands
    of employees.
  • The studio was recently accused of fostering a sexist,
    hostile work environment.
  • Riot acknowledged the accusations on Wednesday and
    issued an apology.
  • “We’re sorry. We’re sorry that Riot hasn’t always been
    — or wasn’t — the place we promised you. And we’re sorry it
    took so long for us to hear you,” the post reads.

The Los Angeles-based game studio behind the massively popular
game “League of Legends” has apologized following
repeated accusations
of fostering a hostile, sexist work environment

In a letter published Wednesday titled, “Our
First Steps Forward
,” Riot Games apologized to former and
current employees, the people who play “League of Legends,” and
its business partners.

“We’re sorry,” the letter says. “We’re sorry that Riot hasn’t
always been — or wasn’t — the place we promised you. And we’re
sorry it took so long for us to hear you.”

The apology letter is the first open admission from Riot Games of
a culture problem — one that was
first reported by Kotaku in an investigative piece
in early August, then resurfaced by a former high-level Riot
Games employee this week.

Riot Games HQRiot

“The frequency and intensity of inappropriate behavior in the
workplace had become a concern not long after I arrived,” Barry
Hawkins, who was a director of product management at Riot Games,

wrote on his blog
in a piece titled “The Story of Why I Left
Riot Games.”

“There were two predominant flavors of behavior,” he said. “One
was the use of sexual references and gestures by straight men
toward other straight men, and the other was the sexist and
inappropriate language about women.”

What led Hawkins to leave Riot, he said, was an incident
involving Riot Games’ former CEO Brandon Beck at an off-site
event held for hiring managers in 2013:

“They shared an example of how one candidate did not take an
offer initially, but because we persevered and followed up, they
eventually did take our offer. At the end of that example,
Brandon laughed and said, ‘I was about to say something.’ He
paused, and then went on to say, ‘No doesn’t necessarily mean

More than just a joke during the speech, the anecdote ended up
enshrined in a slide deck, Hawkins said.

It was this that led Hawkins to leave Riot Games — in an email
follow-up, Hawkins said he politely confronted the Riot Games
CEO, which led to a series of meetings that eventually persuaded
him to leave. He now works for Hulu as a director of technical
program management.

Beck stepped down as CEO of Riot Games in late 2017. The
company’s new CEO, Nicolo Laurent, is overseeing a freshly formed
group within Riot that aims to evolve the company’s culture.

“We’ve built a new team to lead our cultural evolution,” Riot’s
letter reads. “This group and their work will impact every corner
of this organization, and will also accelerate our existing
cultural and inclusion work. We are all committed to keeping the
best parts of today’s Riot—like our focus on player empathy—while
tirelessly looking toward the future. The team will be
accountable to our CEO directly.”

Moreover, Beck and co-founder Marc Merrill are recusing
themselves, “from matters relating to the broad culture,
diversity, and inclusion initiative,” a Riot Games representative
told Business Insider this morning.

Read the full letter from Riot Games right here.

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