Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s GYGO. As my esteemed colleague reported on with last week’s GYGO, the past few weeks of gaming news have been, well, really damn bleak. While those of us who operate at the margins of the games industry have been aware of systemic issues of employee abuse and bigotry for a while, getting tangible information of the suffering of the marginalized is always heartbreaking. So, before we move on with this week’s post, I just want to say that while I won’t go into details here, the included links will likely include some things that may be triggering, so take care of yourself.
Exodus at Blizzard HQ
After the reports of abuse and discrimination in the workplace released in a recent lawsuit, and the ensuing incredible bravery of employees standing in solidarity, several high-level executives at Blizzard are stepping down. First came news of the company president, J. Allen Brack, stepping down:
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack has stepped down, shortly after the company was served with a lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and harassment. https://t.co/leg5PU1R1R pic.twitter.com/BZHBSS05ol
— IGN (@IGN) August 3, 2021
Shortly afterward, Jason Schreier reported that the head of Human Resources at the company had also left his position:
NEWS: Blizzard's head of HR, Jesse Meschuk, is also no longer at the company, Bloomberg has learned https://t.co/3m9EHejVxc
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) August 3, 2021
To continue reshaping company culture, CEO Bobby Kotick has decided to conduct an internal audit. But a coalition of Blizzard workers has formally rejected the law firm he selected to do the job since the firm has pre-existing business relations with Activision and Blizzard and thus is not impartial.
Et Tu, Indie Scene?
While stories of employee abuse abound in big-budget studio space, smaller developers are not immune from the toxic culture that pervades game development. Steve Gaynor, founder of Fullbright, the studio behind Gone Home and Tacoma, has stepped down following allegations of mistreatment of employees. The news broke as the studio’s new game, Open Roads, has fallen far behind schedule with the departure of fifteen employees. The full story was reported on Polygon.
How the founder’s toxic culture tore apart Fullbright, the studio behind Gone Home https://t.co/6ZwCaT0V4c pic.twitter.com/6GAHSfI3hm
— Polygon (@Polygon) August 5, 2021
In other news…
The popular multiplayer game formerly known as PUBG has quietly rebranded itself to PUBG: Battlegrounds. This is at first a little silly, since PUBG is an acronym for which “battlegrounds” is already the last two letters, but apparently there’s some marketing sense to it.
Niantic has heard the calls of players for Pokemon GO to reverse its recent changes to Pokestop distances. While Pokestops were placed closer together geographically to allow players fun without undue travel during COVID, the distances between stops and gyms were increased last month in areas it was deemed safe to travel in. However, with COVID delta variant on the rise, Niantic is reconsidering the reversion to pre-2020 mechanics. See their full letter here.
Finally, Fortnite continues to do… whatever it’s doing, with a decadently weird digital concert and online event starring Ariana Grande. Players bounced around with giant stuffed bears, shot at crystal monsters, and ran through Grecian temples while being serenaded by a medley of pop hits.
Emma is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition who studies how play impacts learning. Her words have also appeared in Critical Distance and Unwinnable. When not writing, she enjoys passing the controller between friends for runs of Silent Hill. She can be found @kostopolus on Twitter.