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Riot Games responds to sexist work culture exposé

"We haven't lived up to our own values," says League of Legends developer as criticism mounts in wake of damning report

Riot Games has this week defended itself as having a "zero tolerance policy on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, bullying, and toxicity" following the publication of an article in Kotaku which exposed an apparent culture of sexism at the studio.

Speaking with 28 current and former Riot employees, both on and off the record, the lengthy exposé is at times a damning indictment of the studio's work culture.

While some current top female employees went on record as saying they had not "personally experienced gender discrimination at Riot", the overall sentiment is one of "where women are treated unfairly, where the company's culture puts female employees at a disadvantage".

Both male and female employees told Kotaku of how they had seen unsolicited, sexualy explicit images from colleagues and bosses; one even spoke about a list circulating among senior staff of female employees they would like to sleep with.

Another former female employee told Kotaku: "The 'bro culture' there is so real... It's agonisingly real. It's like working at a giant fraternity."

Kristen Fuller, who left the developer in March this year, spoke about how difficult it was to be heard as a woman at the company.

"It's hard to get a word in edgewise," she told Kotaku. "I've been talking and someone else starts talking and starts to talk louder when I don't stop. A lot of men don't take no for an answer."

Riot Games responded to the criticism levelled at it, saying "we haven't lived up to our own values" and claims to have "taken action against many of the specific instances in the article".

"All Rioters must be accountable for creating an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard, grow their role, advance in the organisation, and fulfil their potential," said the League of Legends developer.

"From the beginning we've had a zero tolerance policy on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, bullying, and toxicity.

"As we've grown, we've made progress, and we've continued to put resources behind our Diversity & Inclusion programs as part of constantly improving Riot.

"We recognise we still have work to do to achieve our goals, which starts with listening to feedback from Rioters and others, and providing Rioters with the guidance and resources they need to uphold our values. You can read more about our D&I work here."

According to Kotaku, the above Diversity & Inclusion programme didn't appear on Riot's website until five months after the publication began reporting on the issue.

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Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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