First it was Ubisoft and now Activision Blizzard, in addition to testimonies that have been made public about other major game developers. Every day it seems clearer and clearer that, for decades, the work cultures that have existed and proliferated within them have been far from the practices we consider appropriate and respectable. A context in which terms like crunching have become popular and, even worse, normalized.

We already knew, for example, of cases of programmers facing endless working hours during the development of Cyberpunk 2077, as well as various cases of discrimination, harassment and mobbing in some studios, responsible for part of the triple A games that each year star in hundreds of headlines. And that’s the problem, which we see again in the case of Activision Blizzard, for some strange reason it seems that toxic work cultures have become a standard in the gaming industry.

That’s the main reason, and today I’m more than ever confirmed, why the announcement that the Minecraft 1.17 Caves & Cliffs Update was split into two parts was excellent news to me. Hearing Agnes Larsson reject crunching to meet dates that can actually be rescheduled, as Mojang has demonstrated, I think it’s an example the whole industry should follow. And it should do so quickly. It’s a great mirror that companies like Activision Blizzard should try to look into.

If you don’t know what’s going on, you should know that a few days ago the state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, as a result of the constant sexual harassment and inequality towards women that, allegedly, has occurred and is occurring within the company. Attitudes that not only have not been pursued by the company, but on the contrary have been ignored by its human resources managers, thus allowing these habits to have been common in the studio for years.

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As a consequence of this toxic culture at Activision Blizzard, it has been made public that a female employee of the company committed suicide as a result of the harassment she had experienced during a work trip. Some messages had already been made public in the past, but following the lawsuit and the news of suicide, networks have been filled with testimonies of people, mainly women, who have been part of the company and that, with testimonies of their personal experiences, would confirm that toxicity has been part of the DNA of the company for many years.

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Among the first responses to this situation, we find that of the company’s employees. According to CNN, about 2,000 of Activision Blizzard’s 9,500 or so employees have signed a letter demanding that the company acknowledge the seriousness of what happened and, in doing so, show understanding and empathy for the victims who, for years, have suffered harassment and sexual harassment in their work environment.

I admit, however, that I am struck by the number: 2,000 (the latest figures put the figure at 2,600) out of 9,500. I understand that there will be cases in which it has not been signed out of fear, ignorance, and so on. However, it is a fact that invites me to think that, to this day, there is still an important part of the workforce of Activision Blizzard that does not condemn this way of acting and, consequently, does not support the demand to the company for a rectification and measures to prevent this from happening again not in the future, but in the immediate present. And, to tell the truth, I find this repugnant.

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Of course, this fits in perfectly with the fact that the two-year investigation that has led to the lawsuit by the state of California against Activision Blizzard stems from complaints and testimony from former employees and victims of sexual harassment at the company.

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard has been forced to break a silence that, for days, cried out to heaven, and to recognize that the company has not acted as it should against this working environment. It has not done so, of course, with an outright statement in this regard, but stating that measures will be taken to prevent this from happening again in the future.

Something that ends by stating that the company “will continue to investigate each and every one of the claims and will not hesitate to take decisive action“. Let’s hope, of course, that this is true, but starting the statement with “will continue” gives the false sense that something has already been done in the past, something that does not seem to fit the reality.

Thus, in the last few hours social networks have been filled with messages especially critical of Activision Blizzard, its managers and the tolerance shown towards harassment in their work environment and, in the last few hours, it has been known that part of the company’s workers threaten to go on strike. In addition, they have joined the #ActiBlizzWalkout movement that promotes not playing or publishing content with the company’s titles. Hopefully it will do some good.

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