Riot Games

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.

Following this initial report, other former employees of Riot Games took to their blogs to share similar experiences.

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

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 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:

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.

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.