200 Riot Games employees stage walkout

Workers protest studio’s forced arbitration policies

Image: LA Times

Hundreds of Riot Games staff staged a walkout at the League of Legend publisher’s Los Angeles headquarters on Monday, in protest of the company’s forced arbitration policies and what they describe as a ‘culture of sexism’.

The LA Times called the walkout the first of its kind in the North American video games industry and pegged the number of participants at over 200.

Last month Riot filed motions to prevent two women from taking gender discrimination cases to court, sparking plans for the walkout.

Riot writer and walkout organiser Dylan Buck said yesterday: “We stand with the current plaintiffs whose alleged abusers remain in leadership positions at Riot.”

Fellow walkout organiser and Riot researcher Ronnie Blackburn said: “We are not dissident for the sake of dissidence, we are dissident for the sake of justice, for the sake of Riot living up to its values, and for the sake of making Riot the great place that we all want it to be.”

Kotaku published a detailed investigation into Riot’s allegedly toxic workplace culture last year, leading to a public apology from the company and a commitment to change its cultural DNA.

Last week Riot said it will amend a policy which prevents employees from taking sexual harassment and assault claims to court.

However, the policy change won’t come into effect until several existing gender discrimination complaints are resolved — and so far Riot has only committed to offering the revised policy to new employees, as it says current staff waived the right to sue when they were hired.

The company also gave its blessing to those planning to participate in the walkout, acknowledging that its revised stance on arbitration policies wouldn’t “satisfy all Rioters”.

Walkout organisers said they expect an official response from Riot by May 16, when the company’s next all-hands meeting takes place.

“It’s not an ultimatum so much as a suggestion, but unless we have a clear commitment from leadership you will hear from us again,” said walkout Riot social listening strategist Jocelyn Monahan. “This is not the end of a conversation, this is the beginning of a conversation.”