Kotaku has a very long and very well-researched piece detailing what it calls “the culture of sexism at Riot Games.” Work on the piece started in December, and writer Cecilia D’Anastasio spoke to 28 current and former employees of the League of Legends developer, male and female, for the piece.

For the most part, the article gives multiple examples of qualified female employees and potential hires being refused jobs or promotions because, as they saw it, they didn’t fit into the “bro culture” of Riot — defined by one person as “like working at a giant fraternity.”

According to multiple sources in the article, Riot’s definition of a “core gamer” is a nebulous concept used to exclude women from advancing within, or even being hired by, the company. One interviewee, who “has always played role-playing games” was asked if she “played ‘real games like Call of Duty,'” ultimately leading to this line of questioning:

“In the end, he asked, ‘If someone just met you, how would they know you’re a gamer?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m looking at my TV right now that has 16 game consoles plugged into it.'”

Several current Riot employees defended their company, acknowledging that while the company is male-dominated (80% of employees), efforts are being made to be as inclusive as possible. Another (male) employee, however, was dismissive of the claims. Kotaku summarizes his opinion, saying:

long-held ideas about who belongs at Riot are too entrenched to be fixable by interview training, repeated acknowledgements about the desire for change or rewriting Riot’s job descriptions and website copy.

A lot of the article is dedicated to the typical, though unfortunate, kind of sexism you hear about in a lot of companies: women being passed over for promotions, being talked over in meetings, and outright sexual harassment, like the sending of unsolicited dick pics. It’s the “core gamer” gatekeeping that bugs me the most, especially at a company that works for a game known for its toxicity and generally elitist player base.

The article is long but it’s worth a read, so go check it out.

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

20 Readers Commented

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  1. Nough on August 10, 2018

    Did you read the part where it says a manager would casually walk in room and fart in people’s face? Wether you work in restaurant, an office, a school… What part of this is normal at your job? like you need someone to walk up to you and fart in your face to make good video games?
    You saw “kotaku” and “women” and it was enough to trigger you and make up your idea while dismissing the shit ton of evidence Kotaku collected over 6 months (from men women btw).
    Now you’re so mad that you’re also attacking Jason who is literally just doing his job.
    YOU are the problem in video game industry and keep being triggered by articles or POC minorities making it games. None of us are going away but the good racist industry standards that you like so much are and no one will ever cater to you. Deal.

    – A Senior Black Producer at AAA Video Game Studios .

  2. Pennlion on August 10, 2018

    To dismiss their claims out of hand is inmature and short sighted. Self examination is always a good thing. However just because someone feels this way does not make it so. No one seems to worry about a work place being male friendly. Should sports teams be forced to hire more white players because blacks are over represented?

  3. LieutenantBaconWaffles on August 9, 2018

    I’m sure I won’t be the first woman to say that Kotaku & Polygon are cancer or that most of their journalism is tabloid opinion pieces that try to force an agenda that 90% of their target audience is opposed to.

  4. Allen on August 9, 2018

    Good for them, they had a dream and they built a company how they wanted it.

  5. Michaelbk on August 9, 2018

    This provocative material wont effect the new mmorpg right. Please dont put this culture in mmo games. It will ruin our mind.

    • Curst on August 9, 2018

      Look around you, everything is already ruined. Western game industry is in self-destruct mode and the explosions are already going off to the cheers of game journalists, it’s just that shockwaves didn’t reach some parts of it yet. If MMOBomb suddenly covering news of this kind is not the proof of that, I don’t know what is.

  6. Zed on August 9, 2018

    “was asked if she “played ‘real games like Call of Duty,’”
    ahahahahahaha that cracks me up. If anyone at riot truly believes that CoD is a ‘real game’ they’re either all 10 yr olds or hipsters that think they’re nerds/geeks because they watch Big Bang Theory.

    That’s like asking a doctor if they do any “real medical practice”, like putting band-aids on “boo-boos.”

  7. Anon on August 8, 2018

    Article glorifying Kotaku is written, and not a single soul in your own audience is buying it. There is still hope.

  8. there we go on August 8, 2018

    this just makes me think women are ruining gaming

  9. Anthony on August 8, 2018

    Aaaand with that, Jason lost all credability.

    • sdfds on August 9, 2018

      not like he had any to begin with, this site has been 99% paid articles by the companies interested for years now, look how much exposure trion get’s for example while their games are completely dead and there’s plenty of other mmos to write about

  10. Blainy on August 8, 2018

    I feel pity for any person who takes Kotaku serious. They’re just scum. Leftist scum.

  11. Time Is Money on August 8, 2018

    Sounds like sour grapes.

  12. FrostySkipper on August 8, 2018

    Game journalism btw

  13. Michael on August 8, 2018

    And thus my opinion of Jason takes the first big plummet in ages. Apparently Kotaku is “well researched” and things are becoming “problematic” because a company doesn’t have a 50/50 male/female split. God forbid, honestly if they have a type of environment they like to work in as a company and pass over people who would not fit that.

    I mean shit, female-only places do this all the time and it’s perfectly fine. But this isn’t even male-exclusive, just male dominated. So it’s an issue. Honestly, fuck anyone who believes in this double standard garbage and double screw anyone who promotes it. This is hugely disappointing mmobomb. If this becomes the kind of thing that is common article here, then that’s just one less good site unfortunately.

    • Bjuan on August 8, 2018

      Go check the reddit form. It’s alot more serious than just being talked over. If you go to the reddit post you will see a list of tweets from rioters giving their stories from being groped, sexually harassed, hit on all the time from their bosses, and there is even accusations of being raped at a riot party. A lot of the male rioters have also backed up these tweets from these woman.

  14. Gahen on August 8, 2018

    Everyone is talked over at every meeting, if the person lets it happen. And ridiculous how people state they are fit for promotion, but do not get promoted, well ultimately it’s the company who decides when and why promote people, so isn’t the complainers’ judgement flawed? Aren’t they somewhat narcissistic to make such claims?

    And why do people run to journalists to complain about all this, while they don’t even try to negotiate with the management? If their work is valuable, they will get a raise when they demand it, if it isn’t, then there was no reason to complain to begin with…

  15. Kaeler on August 8, 2018

    Giving Kotaku relevancy is not a good idea mate.
    They thrive on drama.

  16. Curst on August 8, 2018

    Oh… So you’re covering topics of this nature now. I guess it was inevitable.

    • Caspramio on August 10, 2018

      Can’t blame him… since Gamergate and the “last honour standing” that we overcome it thanks to the support of #NotMyshield, we (the gamer community) are the first one to set the example to not be driven for any imposing “correctness”