In response to the allegations by a California agency of a pervasive 'frat boy culture' allowed to flourish at gaming giant Activision Blizzard, work has effectively stopped on the company's largest title, World of Warcraft, according to Senior System Designer Jeff Hamilton. Meanwhile, since the news broke a multitude of former and current Activision Blizzard employees have come out with stories of their own, denouncing the culture and the response to the lawsuit by Activision Blizzard itself.
In a series of tweets over the weekend, Hamilton effectively admitted that work ceased on the MMO in the wake of the allegations, as well as the response to them by Activision Blizzard. Hamilton starts the long Twitter thread by calling Activision's statement "terrible," still holding out hope that his team will make an official statement.
OK. I’m still hopeful my team will make a statement, but Activision’s statement was terrible, so here's what I believe. I know many of my colleagues believe this as well:— Jeff Hamilton (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021
Hamilton goes on to state that he believes that all allegations of sexual harassment should be "taken seriously and in good faith, and that the developer is "viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma" which has affected his coworkers.
I am viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma that has been inflicted upon my coworkers, friends, and colleagues.— Jeff Hamilton (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021
In response to the statement made by Activision Blizzard when the lawsuit news broke, Hamilton states that "almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out."
He continued, stating that Activision's response has caused so much turmoil on his team that they are "rendered unable to keep making a great game."
I don’t know what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody - not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders.— Jeff Hamilton (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021
Activision’s response to this is currently taking a group of world-class developers and making them so mad and traumatized they’re rendered unable to keep making a great game.— Jeff Hamilton (@JeffAHamilton) July 25, 2021
Meanwhile, since the news broke last Wednesday of the allegations, a multitude of Blizzard employees, both former and current ones, have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts as well a denounce the statement made by Activision Blizzard, such as former Blizzard employee Kat Metzen, unequivocally denouncing what she calls an "attempt by [Activision Blizzard] to diminish the very real damage done to victims of harassment at Blizzard."
I do not support any attempt by AB to diminish the very real damage done to victims of harassment at Blizzard. We absolutely must hear and support the women at our company, both current and past.— Kat Metzen (@kathunter) July 24, 2021
Other former Blizzard employees have spoken out, such as former Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode, tweeting a thread in support for those who speak up against the company, as well as those whose experiences are too traumatic to do so.
So anyway just huge fucking ups to you, the people who embolden us all by sharing your stories.And to the people who don’t: I see you and I know the baggage you carry. I understand why you can’t.??— Ben Brode (@bbrode) July 25, 2021
Cher Scarlett, who was at Blizzard for about a year and has been at the forefront of helping other witnesses come forward for the lawsuit itself, talked on Twitter about the responses she has received from male players since the lawsuit broke. Specifically, she tells players to keep playing World of Warcraft and continue to watch the streams themselves, stating that the culture isn't just at the studio - it's in the fanbase too. Citing this, Scarlett effectively calls for those who want to make a difference to stand up and change the culture within the community by no longer accepting it.
"Over the weekend I received a lot of DM's from men in the community telling me they cancelled their WoW subs and asking what they could do to help. Don't quit the games. Keep watching streams. This culture is not just at the studios. It's in the community. Stop accepting it," Scarlett tweeted.
Hear me: It's not just the people profiting from the games.Boycotting the game won't do much when a large portion of the player base (the people you're leaving behind, essentially) is the problem.If you leave, who will stand up for the victims? https://t.co/2DFTdrenek— Cher Scarlett (@cherthedev) July 26, 2021
Anne Armstrong has also come forward speaking about an incident back in 2012 which involved former creative director of World of Warcraft Alex Afrasiabi, who is named explicitly in the complaint filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The account, which was posted to TwitLonger, details Armstrong's experience of being sexually assaulted by Afrasiabi in the presence of other top Blizzard officials.
Alex Afrasiabi did something unacceptable to meRead: https://t.co/InYGX9fKpf— Anne Armstrong (@Treasureeeee) July 26, 2021
Over the weekend, co-founder Mike Morhaime released a statement apologizing to the women at Blizzard, stating specifically that he "failed" them. Meanwhile, Chris Metzen released a separate statement, apologizing for the part he played in "a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference."