The official World of Warcraft Twitter account has announced that it will take immediate action to “remove references that are not appropriate for [its] world.” While it didn’t elaborate on what those references are, they may pertain to in-game elements connected to its senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi, as Kotaku has noted. Afrasiabi was singled out in the lawsuit filed by California authorities accusing Activision Blizzard of fostering a “frat boy” culture that’s become a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
According to the lawsuit, Afrasiabi is known for hitting on and touching female employees inappropriately in plain view of other male employees who would try to intervene and stop him. He apparently has such a notorious reputation within the company that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite after alleged rapist Bill Crosby.”(The lawsuit has misspelled Bill Cosby’s name.) In addition, executives allegedly knew about his behavior but “took no effective remedial measures.” Blizzard President J. Allen Brack talked to him a few times, the lawsuit reads, but gave Afiasiabi a slap on the wrist for the incidents.
Activision Blizzard denied the accusations in the lawsuit and said it “includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past” in its initial response. Executive Vice President Fran Townsend told employees in a memo that the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of [the] company, including factually incorrect, old and out of context stories.”
A group of over 800 Activision Blizzard employees decried the company’s response to the accusations as “abhorrent and insulting.” They wrote in an open letter: “Categorizing the claims that have been made as ‘distorted, and in many cases false’ creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims.” At least 50 employees working in the company’s main office in California are now planning a walkout on Wednesday to protest the company’s actions and to demand better working conditions for women.
In WoW’s announcement, it said the decision to remove inappropriate elements was made in order to rebuild trust. It admitted that it must earn people’s trust with its “actions in the weeks and months to come,” though it didn’t say what other steps the company intends to take in response to the lawsuit’s allegations.
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