May 6, 2019 It’s been confirmed that Riot employees are preparing a walkout, and it’ll happen today.
Earlier this week it had been reported that Riot Games employees were considering a walkout to protest a number of the company’s actions. This has now been confirmed as going ahead – and it’ll happen today.
The walkout follows the League of Legends publisher’s promises to change in the wake of last year’s reports of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Those considerations took on renewed heat after Riot’s motion to block some employees from taking legal action against the company, including lawsuits against Riot alleging that the company violated the California Equal Pay Act. Riot’s lawyer suggested at the time that because these developers signed arbitration agreements, they waived their rights to a jury trial against their employer.
The Riot Games walkout appears to be the first ever one of its kind at a major gaming studio. “I’m walking out as a symbolic action to signal to leadership that I care about this issue,” said one current employee to Kotaku. “I hope leadership takes the time to seriously listen to the issues.”
“Talk of a walkout has been brewing among a number of folks with varying levels of investment since Kotaku’s first article hit,” an anonymous employee at Riot told Waypoint when reports of the walkout first broke, “and leadership consistently promised transparency/actions to be taken and then did not deliver on that promise.”
Riot’s chief diversity officer, Angela Roseboro, offered to “open up a dialogue… and invite Rioters to join us for small group sessions where we can talk through your concerns, and provide as much context as we can about where we’ve landed and why.” One employee told Waypoint that “when Angela Roseboro offered to schedule focus sessions with people there was backlash because people were frustrated at yet another example of closed-door discussions instead of transparency.”
Current estimates suggests that around 100 employees, or around 10% of the company, will walkout. Reasons given include the company’s stance on forced arbitration, but one employee told Kotaku, “so far I haven’t seen a single outcome of our diversity and inclusion efforts at Riot. I haven’t seen a single metric or number to indicate things have improved and I haven’t seen a single project get finished.”
In an email to Kotaku, a Riot representative said that the company would support any employees who chose to walkout, while adding, “we will continue to listen to Rioters regarding their thoughts on arbitration and we’re thankful for everyone that has taken the time to meet with leadership about this issue.”
Employees at Riot’s Dublin office will be holding their own walkout in solidarity, which will occur tomorrow. While employees engaging in the walkout aren’t concerned with getting fired, as Riot promises “no retaliation” against them, one organiser is simply concerned that their actions will make no difference. “The worst-case scenario is that leadership does not budge from their current position and continues to maintain that there will be a ‘future commitment’ about current Rioters.”
More as it develops.