Activision Blizzard Settle One Of Many Discrimination Lawsuits
After a summer defined by copious allegations of discrimination and sexual misconduct spurred multiple Activision Blizzard lawsuits, the video game developer/publisher took one off the books in quick fashion.
The company reached an $18 million settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shortly after the agency filed suit against the company for multiple instances of workplace discrimination. The filing came after a three-year investigation that the EEOC argued found evidence that Activision Blizzard failed to address complaints of sexual harassment, discriminated against pregnant employees and retaliated against employees who filed complaints about such behavior.
Activision Blizzard announced the settlement on Wednesday, stating the money would be used to form a fund “to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.” The company stated that any unclaimed funds would be divided among charities that ‘advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues … diversity, equity and inclusion initiative, as approved by the EEOC.”
Labor organizers have levied heavy criticism of the settlement following the announcement, pointing to the monetary amount as “pennies” compared to the company’s financial value. “Activision Blizzard is worth $72 billion – an $18 million settlement is mere pennies considering the resources available to this cash-rich corporation,” read a statement from the Communication Workers of America’s (CWA) Campaign to Organize Digital Employees.
“Even worse, Activision Blizzard’s management does not acknowledge that their actions harmed their workers, viewing the settlement as a very small price to pay to rid themselves of a ‘distraction,'” the statement continued. Beyond company finances, the amount of the settlement pales in comparison to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s earnings, amounting to $154 million.
CWA secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens expounded on that criticism while highlighting what the settlement says to affected workers. “Yesterday’s insufficient EEOC settlement made it clear that the thousands of Activision Blizzard workers who have suffered from years of toxic workplace misconduct on behalf of Activision Blizzard will not receive true justice,” Steffans said.
Activision Blizzard was not required to admit to any guilt per the settlement. The company still faces separate lawsuits from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and investors as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched its own investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct.
China Bans Games With “Effeminate” Characters, LGBTQ Stories
Amid a sweeping number of policy changes meant to curtail the consumption of video games by Chinese youth, the Chinese government is now pressing Chinese game developers to restrict LGBTQ and “effeminate” depictions of men in future titles.
According to a report from the South China Morning Post, Chinese officials communicated the initiative to officials from China-based gaming megacorps Tencent and NetEase last month, who both have financial stakes in multiple game developers based outside of China. The discussion labeled LGBTQ imagery and depictions of “gay love” in games as promoting a ‘wrong set of values.”
A separate report published on the official English-language website of China’s State Council included similar sentiments. “The authorities ordered the enterprises and platforms to tighten examination of the contents of their games. Obscene and violent content and those breeding unhealthy tendencies, such as money-worship and effeminacy, should be removed,” read the report.
Life Is Strange Charity Team-Up
Game studio Square Enix is celebrating the sucessful release of “Life Is Strange: True Colors,” the latest installment in the popular and very queer series, by offering fans a way to give back to the LGBTQ community and score some sweet, exclusive swag.
The company, along with “Life Is Strange: True Colors” developers Deck9, announced a fundraising partnership with LGBTQ advocacy group Outright Action International last month in an effort to support the community which the “Life Is Strange” series provides much needed representation.
The news also came with the first action in the relationship, launching a donation drive where those that provide financial assistance to Outright Action International are entered to win a one-of-a-kind denim jacket adorned with patchees celebrating the organization, the influential game series and its community.
The jacket was designed in cooperation with musical artist mxmtoon, who provides the singing voice for “Life Is Strange: True Colors'” bisexual protagonist Alex Chen, and many of the patches were designed by people who work on the game’s development. It also features a patch crafted by a fan of the series.
Fans can enter for their chance to win the unique item and donate to Outright Action International here.
China Bans Games: Previously on Towleroad
Image courtesy of Square Enix