Riot Games is a Los Angeles-based developer founded by Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill and owned since 2011 by Tencent. It employs 2,500 employees in 24 studios worldwide and is known for the extremely popular League of Legends franchise and associated eSports championship events.
In early August, 2018 Kotaku published a scathing exposé of a sexist culture at Riot. This was the work of an 8 month investigation into the culture at Riot and relied on the testimony of over two dozen sources.
Aug 7, 2018: Cecilia D’Anastasio for Kotaku: Inside the Culture of Sexism at Riot Games
Following this initial report, other former employees of Riot Games took to their blogs to share similar experiences.
Aug, 2018: Katie deSousa blog: Sexism
Aug 8, 2018: Meagan Marie blog: Six Months at Riot Games
Aug 8, 2018: Colin Stevens for IGN: Riot Games Comments on Accusations of Sexist Culture at League of Legends Studio
Aug 16, 2018: Yonah Bex Gerber blog: My Story at Riot Games
Aug 17, 2018: Kristin Fuller blog: It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: My Time in the Games Industry
Aug 19, 2018: amazoeworld: My break up with Riot Games
Aug 27, 2018: Barry Hawkins blog: The Story of Why I Left Riot Games
Aug 28, 2018: Ben Gilbert for Business Insider: One of the world's biggest game studios has been hit with multiple allegations of fostering a hostile, sexist work environment
Responses from Riot after the Kotaku article:
After the Kotaku article on sexism at Riot Games, Riot attempted to directly address the allegations of sexism and harassment both through public addresses and providing a specific professional development event that could only be attended by women and non-binary individuals at PAX west. Furthermore, a senior Riot employee stated the company would take a closer look at the recruitment and hiring process of Riot, with the ultimate goal of widening their applicant pool to be more inclusive.
Riot Games responded on August 29 2018 with a public statement on their website - Our First Steps Forward. The statement begins as follows and proceeds to apologize to current and future employees and contractors, fans, prospective Riot employees and current and prospective Riot partners
The statement then outlines seven steps that Riot will take to improve and fix its culture. These include expanding what Riot calls the “Culture, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Initiative”, hiring “culture change” consultants and re-evaluating their investigation, recruitment and training processes.
In a later statement (Sept 12) Riot announced one culture change consultant as Harvard Business Professor Frances Frei who had previously worked with Uber to address problems with their management including sexual harassment.
Original Posts and Media Coverage:
Aug 2018: Riot: Riot at PAX West
Aug 8, 2018: Haydn Taylor: Riot Games responds to sexist work culture exposé
Aug 15, 2018: Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street on Tumblr Q&A: “As a white male, what are you personally doing to fix the broken, sexist culture at Riot?”
Aug 17, 2018: James Batchelor for Games Industry: Riot Games exec Greg Street promises change to sexist culture
Aug 29, 2018: Rebekah Valentine for Games Industry: Riot Games outlines plan for culture change in wake of workplace sexism allegations
Aug 29, 2018: Cass Marshall for Polygon: Riot Games responds to toxic workplace allegations and reports
Aug 29, 2018: Cecilia D’Anastasio for Kotaku: 'We're Sorry': Riot Pledges Sweeping Changes To Address Accusations Of Sexism
Aug 29, 2018: Nick Statt for The Verge: Riot Games says fixing studio culture is ‘top priority’ after extensive reports of workplace harassment
Aug 29, 2018: Adam Rosenberg for Mashable: Riot Games is ready to explain how it's going to end its 'bro culture'
Aug 29, 2018: Stefanie Fogel for Variety: Riot Games Apologizes, Promises Change After Sexism Accusations
Aug 31, 2018: Rob Fahey for Games Industry: Riot’s struggle with toxicity turns inwards
Sept 1, 2018: Riot Games on Twitter: “To help recruit women into gaming, we held PAX workshops for women and non-binary people…”
Sept 1, 2018: Taha Zaidi for Daily Esports: Reddit vs Riot: Drama over female-only league of legends PAX seminars
Reddit reaction to Taha Zaidi’s Daily Esports article
Sept 3, 2018: James Batchelor for Games Industry: Riot responds to controversy over women and non-binary PAX workshops
Sept 7, 2018: Rebekah Valentine for Games Industry: Two Riot employees exit following PAX session controversy
Cecilia D’Anastasio, the journalist who broke the original story for Kotaku followed-up with doubt that Riot will change if the main players responsible for the toxic work culture are still at the studio.
Sept 12, 2018: Cecilia D’Anastasio for Kotaku: Riot Games Says It Wants to Clean Up Its Mess, But The People Who Made It Are Still
Riot Games Walk Out:
Directly related to the Riot Games culture of sexism discussed in the Kotaku article is the Riot Games walk out (discussed here). In short, 150 Riot Employees staged a walk out at the Los Angeles headquarters on May 6th, 2019. At the core of the walk out was Riot’s series of lawsuits centered on sexism and harassment, and more importantly, their policy of forced arbitration.