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The industry is in the crosshairs of the authorities for the recent cases of harassment, discrimination and sexism that came to light in major companies such as Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft. Unfortunately, another study adds to this list where the common factor is a toxic work environment.
IGN this week published an investigation into the problems that have plagued Bungie employees for years. The outlet interviewed 26 people, including former workers and current employees.
The bad news was not long in coming, as a wave of accusations surfaced of harassment, discrimination, crunch, sexism, systematic inequality and regrettable practices, such as protection from abusers. Given this, the executive manager of the study came out to talk about the issue and apologized for everything that happened.
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Bungie employees fell victim to a toxic workplace culture
According to the details, one of the most affected teams at Bungie is in charge of the narrative of its projects. The report claims that its members have been victims of crunch and toxic leadership for at least 5 years.
The problems arose from the development of the first Destiny, which was created in a toxic work environment, where even one of the leaders engaged in violent behavior, such as throwing a chair out of a window or yelling at employees on phone calls for allegedly ruining his creative vision.
One of the biggest problems is that this leader was not sanctioned or lost his position despite his behavior. It is mentioned that he stayed with the company for years and was later invited to collaborate on Destiny 2.
During the creation of both games there were problems due to the toxicity of some leaders, who were described as “sexist nightmares” who during the meetings did not stop yelling and throwing work material.
Some of the employees were targeted when they demanded better working conditions. One of the male leaders, not mentioned by name, asked them to have “stronger skins” and “learn to accept criticism.” However, these criticisms were direct insults against female staff.
There was also a team leader who continually scoffed at the ideas of his colleagues and, on various occasions, took credit for the work of others. A former employee pointed out the company for forcing her to do management tasks and other areas that did not correspond to her.
The accusations reveal an “insensitive, hierarchical, authoritarian, indifferent and cruel leader”, as well as weeks of work that could even reach 100 hours. All this generated a high turnover of personnel, especially those in development of Destiny 2 and its expansions.
There is talk of periods of crisis full of last minute adjustments that became a true nightmare due to the toxic work environment that prevailed, especially within the narrative team. As if that were not enough, it is mentioned that men with better positions wanted to portray women in degrading or sexist ways in the history of the game.
After even requiring medication and therapy, the team members grew weary and reported everything to human resources. However, the response was disappointing, as they were asked to do more to work with the people who harassed them.
This led to a wave of resignations in 2019 by the narrative team, which even ran out of women due to the dire situation. Unfortunately, this scenario was repeated in most of the teams in the study, and HR was left with their arms crossed.
Bungie boss apologized for studio problems
Pete Parsons, CEO of Bungie, released a statement discussing the recent report on the company’s work culture. In it, he affirms that he felt “deep empathy and sadness” when reading the testimonies.
The manager apologized to all employees affected by these problems and stated that, in recent years, they have worked on important changes to improve the work environment. For starters, Bungie removed all those accused of misconduct, regardless of their role within the studio.
The company accepted that in all cases it did not act correctly or as quickly as the victims would have liked. He also stressed that if the investigation brings out more names, the culprits will be punished.
On the other hand, improvements have been made in project planning and launch dates. This to avoid crunch and thus prioritize the health of all employees. They have also invested time and effort to make Bungie more inclusive in every way, including hiring practices.
Thanks to this, women or people belonging to minorities make up 50% of the company’s board of directors. While 40% of the workforce are also women.
“As CEO, my job is to determine both the past and the future and be responsible for all of it, here and now. Talking to the Bungie team, reading the stories, and looking at familiar and new stories, it’s clear we still have work to do. I am committed to that. We are not yet the studio we have the potential to become, but we are on our way. And we will not rest or slow down these efforts because we recognize that the path of inclusion, diversity and equity is, in itself, the destiny that we all strive for, ”said Parsons.
A message from Bungie’s CEO, Pete Parsons.https://t.co/LsBrYmZCyU pic.twitter.com/nYmGXuEt1p
– Bungie (@Bungie) December 10, 2021
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