Riot Games logo. Courtesy of Riot Games.
Riot Games logo. Courtesy of Riot Games.

Riot, the developer behind League of Legends, is planning a walkout today.

Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, is staging an employee walkout today. The company has undergone various scandals in the past year. Some instances include violating the California Equal Pay Act and fostering a toxic work environment. There have also been allegations of sexual harassment and sexism. Several former and current employees have filed lawsuits against the company. In response, the company has blocked two female employees from taking the company to court. Other outlets have reported that the walkout is because the company failed to act on employee complaints in a timely manner, despite Riot publicly promising they would.

This is notable in that it could be the first walkout in game development history. For those who work in the industry or close to it, it is not surprising considering the growing movement to unionize game workers. There may be repercussions not only at Riot but across the entire industry as well.

League of Legends Gameplay

The situation at Riot could force changes at other game development companies.

Riot had done damage control last year. They contracted Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei to clean up the company’s culture. Frei had the same task at ridesharing giant Uber. However, the move comes too little, too late. For instance, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Scott Gelb, who was accused of inappropriate behavior with employees, still remains in his position. Gelb received a two-month unpaid suspension and training for “ball-tapping”, humping, and even farting on employees.

Riot said in a May 3 blog post, “Over the last week we discussed this topic with Rioters across the organization, including tonight at our bi-weekly all-company town hall. We’ve made a call that we will pivot our approach. As soon as current litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.

The bolded text specifically addresses the current litigation against the company, which includes the blocking of the two female employees from going to court. Riot has also said that they respect those who choose to walk out and protest the decision of the company.

What do you think of this situation? Will the effect spill over into other game development companies to change their workplace cultures? Let us know in the comments below!