Riot Games Responds To Sexist Culture Allegations

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Earlier this month Kotaku published an investigative piece uncovering a culture of sexism at Riot Games. Interviews with dozens of current and former employees painted Riot Games as a hostile work environment for women. In the weeks following the Kotaku piece, several other former employees, including Barry Hawkins, have gone public with their own stories.

On August 29, Riot Games finally responded to the allegations with a post titled Our First Steps Forward. The post starts with an admission of the the charges, with Riot putting up no defense of the culture that has helped it grow into the most popular PC game in the world:

For the past three weeks, we’ve been focused on listening and learning. As a company, we’re used to patching problems ASAP, but this patch will not happen overnight. We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny. Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable. While there is much to improve, there is a tremendous amount of good at Riot that will drive this change. This is our top priority until we get it right.

The rest of the post lays out Riot's 7-point plan to fix the problem. The majority of these steps include layering on new levels of bureaucracy onto Riot's already bloated corporate structure. A new Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Diversity Officer will join the executive team. An outside law firm is being brought in to evaluate Riot's internal policies. Not one, but two 'leading consultants' on 'culture change' have been enlisted to help with the transition. Finally, anti-bias and anti-harassment training will be made mandatory for all Rioters.

With a headcount of 2,500 overseeing their single title, Riot Games is already generously staffed. These new changes are likely to swell that headcount further, and make the training process for new hires that much lengthier. With expenses growing and League of Legends stagnating due to the success of Fortnite, Riot Games is on course to lose money for the first time this year.

Perhaps its time for Riot's parent company, the Chinese tech giant Tencent, to consider bringing the operation of League of Legends to China where the focus can be placed on the product and profits rather than hurt feelings.

Further Reading: Our First Steps Forward