Late last week, in response to Riot Games forcing arbitration (a case of internally reviewing claims made against it without a jury) on two employees who came forward with accusations of sexual harassment and pay discrimination, several employees threatened to stage a walkout in protest, which would be the first time in history that employees at a major game studio did such a thing. Riot’s response was to ‘encourage’ the walkout while promising to end forced arbitration in future cases as well as to try to accommodate any employee who decided to participate, although how earnest they were in that sentiment is obviously debatable.
Well, if they were trying to seem amicable to stop the walkout, it failed. Because yesterday, over 150 Riot Games employees walked out of their office building in Los Angeles today to protest the company’s generally crappy behavior in the months that followed the now-famous Kotaku article, and they were very, very mad.
Called “Rioters Unplugged”, this event saw several people take a stand and make a speech, talking about how they need to stand united and unify their voices so they can fight back effectively against the kind of activity that Riot upper management seems to be indulging in. Namely, being all talk, no action.
Towards the end of the walkout, organizer Jocelyn Monahan announced that if Riot management doesn’t make any kind of serious commitment on current forced arbitration by May 16th, she and others will take further action. No one specified what “further action” actually meant, but Kotaku was assured that they do have plans and commitments.
They also expressed fear that, despite Riot’s outward claim of support, there would indeed be retribution for employees who participated.
All the same, this is an important and powerful moment, not just for Riot Games, but for the games industry as a whole. And maybe, if we’re lucky, it’ll be the next step towards the ultimate goal of Unionization.
A boy can dream, at least.