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Investigation finds Nordic Game likely violated discrimination law

External firm cites "overwhelming" evidence of misconduct from one man formerly employed by the event organizer, but cannot corroborate claims against a current employee

Nordic Game today released the results of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against two staffers, with the external firm hired to look into the matter saying the event organizer has likely violated the Swedish Discrimination Act.

In a summary of the investigation's findings, that external firm Gender Balance said it corroborated five accounts of sexual misconduct against a Nordic Game employee who had left the company by the time the investigation started.

However, it said it could not find supporting evidence for three more accusations made against a current Nordic Game employee by three different women.

The investigators described the evidence against the first man as "overwhelming," with witnesses and screen captures of chat messages backing up allegations that he made "persistent and unwelcome comments or messages of intimate or sexual nature" and "intrusive and obviously violating physical touching of a sexual nature."

He also continued to send such messages even after the recipient "clearly and repeatedly protested against it."

Most of the women who were wronged by the first man were "in a position of personal or professional dependence" to him.

The investigators did not interview the first man about the allegations, but based on his previous communications they determined he would likely deny the misconduct if asked.

Gender Balance did not detail any of the allegations against the second man who remains employed at Nordic Game. It did say the allegations involved "in-person misconduct that would have taken place several years ago, leaving few or no potential witnesses with clear recollections of the events," adding, "There [has] been no or very little textual evidence."

The second man was interviewed by investigators and denied the allegations.

"Several people have testified to a culture at Nordic Game ranging from the informal and friendly (in a positive sense), to the unprofessional and inappropriate," Gender Balance said.

"This culture centered around [the two accused men], who by all accounts were good friends. The work could often lack structure in a general sense and frequently included heavy partying in conjunction with conferences or business trips. This created a high dependency for some of the victims on [the first man], which clearly [he] exploited."

The investigators also criticized Nordic Game's response to the allegations, saying it "lacked structure," with several employees or Nordic Game collaborators reaching out to the victims with "unsanctioned messages" multiple times.

"This created a disjointed communication from Nordic Game in a crucial time period were trust needed to be built," they said. "[The first man], meanwhile, was very vocal in his denials and more than once threatened to sue any alleged victim for defamation. This all contributed to a loss of trust between some of the persons who had made complaints and Nordic Game, creating additional difficulty for the investigation."

The allegations first surfaced in the fall of 2021. Nordic Game conducted its own investigation into them, saying last April that it "enforced restrictions" the staff members in question.

At the same time, Nordic Game CCO and program director Jacob Riis said he would step away from his duties hosting last year's event and the Nordic Game Discovery Contest, saying, "The encounters these individuals described and the feelings that they shared shook me to my core."

Correction: This article originally said Riis had left Nordic Game entirely. It has been amended.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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