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Riot Games accused of fostering a hostile, sexist work environment



Riot Games HQRiot

  • The maker of the enormously popular game “League of
    Legends,” Riot Games, is a massive game studio with thousands
    of employees.
  • Riot is alleged to have fostered a sexist, hostile work
  • “The frequency and intensity of inappropriate behavior
    in the workplace had become a concern not long after I
    arrived,” former Riot manager Barry Hawkins wrote in a lengthy
    piece this week. 
  • Hawkins left Riot Games in early 2014 due to ongoing
    concerns with the culture at the studio, and the feeling that
    pushing back imperiled his job stability.

One of the biggest game studios in the world, Riot Games, is
facing ongoing accusations of fostering a culture of sexism and

Starting with a
months-long investigative report published at Kotaku
in early
August which outlined a “bro culture” at the Los Angeles-based
company, new accusations surfaced in
a piece published this week
on the personal blog of a former

“There were two predominant flavors of behavior,” former Riot
Games director of product management Barry Hawkins wrote in a
piece titled, “The Story of Why I Left Riot Games,”
published on his blog this week
. “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.”

In his piece, Hawkins details his experience working at Riot
Games — from August 2012 to February 2014 — as one repeatedly
characterized by sexism. Worse, his attempts to push back against
that culture were met with enough resistance that he ended up
leaving the company. “I concluded that I was not going to be able
to effectively impact the issues with the culture at Riot” he
wrote, “And my first significant attempt at raising concerns had
put my job in jeopardy.”

Riot Games

A piece published on Kotaku in early August detailed the
experiences of over two dozen current and former Riot Games
employees offered a similarly grim assessment of the culture at
Riot Games.

“They just didn’t respect women,” one former employee named Lacy

Several people speaking to Kotaku described instances of sexual
harassment from management, ongoing struggles to hire women, and
casual sexism in conversation with co-workers. Hawkins echoed
these accusations in his piece, and claimed that the issues with
Riot’s culture go all the way to the top.

Hawkins said that, during an offsite work event for all Riot
Games hiring managers held in 2013, Riot Games CEO Brandon
Beck made a joke about rape as part of a speech:

“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 PowerPoint slide deck. It was this that eventually
led to Hawkins leaving Riot Games, he said — in an email
followup, Hawkins said he politely confronted the Riot Games CEO,
which led to a series of meetings that eventually persuaded him
to leave. He currently works for Hulu as director of technical
program management.

Riot Games denies the allegations from Kotaku’s piece, and has
yet to respond to a request for comment regarding Hawkins’

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