Today, in front of Blizzard Entertainment’s Irvine, California headquarters, Christine (her last name withheld to protect her privacy) held a press conference in which she spoke about her experiences of sexual harassment and retaliation while employed at the embattled game developer.
Content warning: This story contains discussions of sexual harassment.
Christine gave a tearful statement detailing how working at Blizzard was her “dream job” but how she was then subjected to inappropriate touching, rude comments about her body, and invitations to have sex with her supervisors. When Christine complained to HR, she said she was told the people who made those comments were “just joking” and that they “did nothing wrong by law.” She further claimed that after making those reports, she was demoted, denied her full profit sharing benefits, and received minimal raises in the four years of her employment at Blizzard.
Christine’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, also spoke at the press conference. Bloom, a celebrity lawyer known for representing survivors in high-profile sexual assault cases who also once made headlines for taking an advisory role in serial-predator Harvey Weinstein’s assault case, detailed the many suits brought against Activision Blizzard for its culture of sexual harassment and retaliation. She notably criticized the consent decree between Activision Blizzard and the EEOC, saying that some of the parameters set forth by this decree had not yet happened within the agreed-upon timeline. She also said that the $18 million victim compensation fund established by the consent decree wasn’t enough. “Given that there are hundreds of victims, I think we can all agree that the $18 million number is woefully inadequate,” she said.
Bloom then outlined three demands of the company: a streamlined process for victims to resolve their claims with an increased compensation fund in excess of $100 million, a real apology from corporate leadership, and an investigation by a neutral third party into the damage Activision Blizzard’s culture of harassment has had on employees’ careers and a plan to repair that damage.
The press conference ended with Bloom asking other victims to join them in the fight against Activision Blizzard. “We don’t want Christine to stand alone. I know she does not stand alone.”
This press conference is the latest example of employee activism at Activision Blizzard. Last week, when layoffs hit the QA department of Raven Studios, a Wisconsin-based Activision Blizzard subsidiary known for working on the Call of Duty franchise, hundreds of workers across the Activision Blizzard ecosystem walked out in solidarity, making this the third walkout since news of the lawsuits broke.
In October, the Wall Street Journal released a report stating that Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard’s CEO, knew about, enabled, and sometimes participated in the harassment himself. After calls for Kotick’s resignation from shareholders and employees, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors affirmed their support for him even as the big three gaming companies, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo, expressed concerns about these developments.
Christine represents one of the first active employees of Blizzard Entertainment to publicly call out the company. Another outspoken Blizzard employee, Jessica Gonzales, resigned from the company in November after months of detailing how her open criticisms of her employer made her subject to harassment from some of her colleagues.
In a statement provided to The Verge, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said:
We appreciate the courage of our current and former employees in coming forward with reports of misconduct, and we are truly sorry for any victims of people whose conduct did not live up to our values.