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The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard last week, leading to thousands of its employees signing an open letter to the company’s management, and announcing a planned walkout.
On Tuesday, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft team published its own response on social media, which it said was representative of the overall team’s sentiments.
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The statement said that, in addition to working internally to protect marginalised groups and hold accountable those who threaten them, the WoW team would take “immediate action” to “remove references that are not appropriate” from the popular MMO.
As detailed by WoWHead, it’s now clear that the references in requestion are related to former World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi.
Afrasiabi was specifically named in the recent lawsuit and alleged to have engaged in “blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions.”
The former designer, who is alleged in lawsuit documents to have groped and harassed women during his 16 years at Blizzard, has a character, items and weapons named after him in World of Warcraft, all of which now appear to be in the process of being renamed.
So far, it’s claimed that the following changes have been made to World of Warcraft following the team’s statement:
- Fras Siabi’s Axe is now Grimm’s Cigar Cutter;
- All Fras Siabi references in Stratholme now direct to Ezra Grimm.
- All Furor items have been renamed and the Autographed Picture of Foror and Tigule now only features Tigule, a reference to Jeff Kaplan.
- Field Marshal Afrasiabi in Stormwind has been replaced by Field Marshal Stonebridge.
- Lord Afrastrasz at Wyrmrest Temple is now Lord Devrestrasz.
- Pathstalker Kariel in Eversong Woods is now Pathstalker Avokor.
- Shard of Afrasa is now Shard of the Splithooves.
Activision Blizzard employees are planning to stage a walkout later today, both physically and virtually using the #ActiBlizzWalkout hashtag.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has responded to the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit on Tuesday and apologised for the company’s initial reaction.
In a letter sent to all employees and published on Activision’s investor site, Kotick told staff: “Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.”