Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Two Riot employees exit following PAX session controversy

One confirmed fired after criticizing those upset by PAX West panel focused on uplifting women and non-binary individuals

Following a controversy over a PAX West panel restricted to women and non-binary aspiring professionals, two Riot Games employees have departed the company. One has confirmed being fired for his remarks on social media.

Kotaku reports that the employees - system designer Daniel Klein and communications associate Mattias Lehman - departed yesterday. Klein has since confirmed in a statement to The Verge that he was "fired for violating our social media policy." The reason for Lehman's departure remains unspecified.

The two were recently involved in various heated Twitter exchanges in response to Riot Games hosting a series of PAX West panels for women and non-binary individuals. The panels themselves were one of the company's endeavors to promote inclusivity in the wake of a Kotaku exposé of the company's discriminatory "bro culture," an accusation which Riot Games has since acknowledged and promised to improve.

The existance of the panels sparked a strong response on social media in places like Twitter and /r/leagueoflegends. Both Klein and Lehman defended the panels on Twitter, with Klein in particular stating that "In the interest of justice, equality, and fairness, men need to be excluded sometimes. That's perfectly fine. Trust me, you'll have about a billion other opportunities that these women won't have. But no, you have to be absolute overgrown toddlers and throw hissy fits." He also referred to those criticizing the panels as "manbabies," which drew further inflammatory replies.

Lehman defended Klein's statements, and prior to this incident had published a Medium post affirming the stories in the Kotaku piece with his own discussion of the company's culture.

At the time of the controversy, Riot said on Twitter, "To help recruit women into gaming, we held PAX workshops for women and non-binary people. We're proud of that and stand with Rioters at PAX. Regarding conversations about this, we need to emphasise that no matter how heated a discussion, we expect Rioters to act with respect."

On the firing of Klein and Lehman's departure, Riot commented to The Verge as follows:

"These departures are independent from our efforts to evolve our culture. Our culture remains our top priority, and we remain committed to taking the steps that we need to become a leader in Diversity & Inclusion. We will always encourage Rioters to share their perspectives, and we fully support efforts by Rioters to further our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. We are committed to making real, positive change in Riot's culture and internal advocates are a crucial part of making that happen."

Related topics
Rebekah Valentine avatar

Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.