Sexism at Riot Games


There are a lot of powerful storieshere. Personally, as a trans woman who got into data analysis specifically for video games and looked to riot as a potential place to go, this was beyond disheartening. It’s a heavy read that I didn’t see a post on. From my own experience, I don’t work in a tech field and the first retirement party I attended included a clearly married man showing off the creep shots he’s taken of a coworkers chest to her face


Some choice quotes from the article:

Among the people we spoke to, three women described being groomed for promotions, and doing jobs above their title and pay grade, until men were suddenly brought in to replace them. Both male and female sources have described seeing unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia from bosses or colleagues. One woman saw an e-mail thread about what it would be like to “penetrate her,” in which a colleague added that she’d be a good target to sleep with and not call again. Another said a colleague once informed her, apparently as a compliment, that she was on a list getting passed around by senior leaders detailing who they’d sleep with. Two former employees said they felt pressure to leave after making their concerns about gender discrimination known. One former male employee said that Riot’s “bro culture” is more pronounced behind closed doors, and hurts men too: One of Riot’s male senior leaders regularly grabbed his genitals, the source said, adding, “If he walked into a meeting with no women he’d just fart on someone’s face.”

A 2015 e-mail about the hiring disparity written by a female employee and sent to Kotaku reads, “I’ve heard women described as ‘aggressive’ and ‘too ambitious’ during hiring panels rather than focus on their career skills or aptitude. I recall a lot of phrases that have given me pause, and I’ve NEVER seen these sorts of phrases applied to male hires: ‘She interrupted me a lot during the phone interview,’ ‘she’s annoying,”’ or ‘we don’t want people in this role who are ambitious because they’ll want to move out of it quickly.’” The e-mailer added that the problem gets deeper when “our hiring panels are, just by the sheer result of the ratio of men to women at Riot, mostly straight/white/male.”

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Thank you for sharing this article. What’s so baffling and harrowing to me is how this features so many examples of systemic sexism at work - all these roadblocks that are costing people their financial security and sanity - and how all of those accounts can just be denied as long as there is no exterior preassure to do so.


Honestly not terribly shocked considering the culture around their game.

They talk about how they are trying so very hard to make their game less of a toxic cesspool while not having the guts to actually do anything meaningful. I’ve played LoL, Dota2, SMITE, and now mostly HotS and LoL by far has and still continues to have the worst community of any game I have ever seen.

They unbanned the streamer Loltyler1, a person who’s whole shtick from what I could see was to be as toxic as possible, after he switched to playing Dota2 because he took his audience with him. What kind of message are you sending your players if you are going to unban a guy that staff themselves have called out on social media for being a PoS?

As soon as something like that happened I would be looking for a new job. What kind of man children run this place?


Fantastic article.

There have also been women sharing their experiences in response to this article on twitter, this is one of them.

I hate this aspect of gaming: the reductionist term is “bro gamers” I guess but it’s the culture that rewards and encourages extroverted and aggressive behavior. Treats introverts like there is something wrong with them that has to be fixed to succeed.
This is speculation but if a lot of these men weren’t belittled for their hobbies as being non masculine in the past, maybe they wouldn’t have so much to prove now. Not sure if that applies anymore though.


Meagan Marie’s (currently CM at Crystal Dynamics) contribution is worth reading too.


i just keep thinking about this twitter exchange from a month ago between Jennifer Scheurle, who lamented that a job she recently applied for necessitated that she have multiple (!) games for which she had over 500+ hours of play (!!) - which several people suspected to be a Riot position - and a male developer who worked on fucking Angry Birds who defended that completely absurd requirement


“Do you play one thousand hours of angry birds, steve”

Lmfao oh dear god I’m rolling.

If you want to be a riot designer, be prepared to spend your hours researching the game. Make sure you’re eager to learn more about it for the sake of design. Sure. But not everyone at riot needs to know their game to do the job and more importantly, outside of general moba knowledge you really don’t have to play an extensive amount to specialize in a SINGLE game. Bah. Anyway


How is this still allowed in 2018?


Riot Games - Still Fucked


Contrast this with Miyamoto straight up saying he purposefully hired people who weren’t really gamers at Nintendo.

It reminds me of the discussion on whether reviewers should be experts at a game - ie Doom footage.
It makes sense right?

Have someone who knows what they’re doing do the job?

But clearly, it creates a monoculture.
And it creative areas, you’ll probably want as much diverse input as you can get.

Similarly, the overall landscape of video games is probably better off with the views of someone not super hardcore in every genre.


Riot released a new statement: Our First Steps Forward
Polygon coverage: Riot Games responds to toxic workplace allegations and reports

Disclaimer: I work at Riot but in a non-PR / non-HR kind of way so I only have personal takes to share


Given all the stories about Riot that have been made public, and all the ones I’ve heard in confidence, this apology and plan isn’t nearly enough.

Making Riot a better place to work is gonna be cold comfort to all those who Riot chewed up and spat out.


I think at this point, after all the apologies that have come out over the past couple of years from different developers, publishers, outlets, etc. I’ve just sort of grown a bit numb to it all. It’s a nice sentiment and all but words on a page are awful easy to type out. Just fucking do better and work on repairing what you broke. big sweeping gestures to the public eye are meaningless in and of themselves and until there’s confirmation from people on the inside, the same people who were actively targeted and abused, that shit is getting better I honestly don’t see any reason to take these things as victories. An admittance of guilt does not make whatever you are guilty of go away.


As far as I could tell, that was the platonic ideal of how people want companies to respond to scandals like this – apologies that don’t deflect, acknowledgement of the truth and validity of the accusations, a stated commitment to change, and explicitly spelled out steps toward systemic changes that include bringing in third party experts and firing harassers.

I get still being angry and not trusting then to follow through until seeing progress – that’s certainly how I feel! – but honestly, what more could anyone realistically want out of a public statement? I mean, compare this to Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream, it’s night and day.


for me personally, I think it’s not so much that the public statement is bad, it’s just that I’m tired of reading these public statements in general, because it’s so easy to write up one of these without actually following through on the sentiment the public statement put forth.


That’s fair. I do think it’ll be pretty dang hard to not follow through on this one, or rather, it’ll be super easy to hold them accountable to what they’re saying, since they listed out extremely specific and visible actions that we can see happen or not.

Also, it might be easy to type out good-sounding words, but most of the time it still doesn’t happen. I cannot think of a single response that even approached what this one contained, it’s so far out of the norm.


That’s fair, and I’m very much of the opinion “I’ll believe it when I see it”, but it’s not like not making a statement was an option. A statement won’t fix anything, of course, but it is necessary, and as far as they go this one seemed pretty OK to me? As for whether it translates into anything real, I say again: I’ll believe it when I see it.


So, in the current cycle of bullshittery around Riot and LoL, at PAX Riot will apparently be doing some workshops specifically targeted at supporting women and non-binary people. Sounds good? Awesome!

A ceRtain group of people read about it and threw a hissy fit. A Riot staffer noticed this and called them out on it, for which they completely unironically threw another hissy fit.

Could be interesting to see how Riot handles this considering their reputation took a bit of a hit for the exposure about institutional misogyny.

Twitter thread calling out some of the fanbase for being a bit shit:


I was a little tied about how I felt about this. Clearly I consider it to be a positive move on riot but I can understand someone that sees this and wonders why there couldnt have been a way to do this for everyone while still maintaining a space for women and nb people to express themselves.

But the outrage against it came off as “this is just sexism” which is funny but an easy unnuanced take that anyone can make on this


Yeah I think it’s reasonable to think that this is a good idea and also wish that they would have additional panels on the same topics open to everyone as well, but man the discussion on reddit and elsewhere is gross as hell.