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15th of October 2018

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More allegations of sexism and harassment hit 'League of Legends' developer Riot Games

Image: riot games/mashable composite2016%2f10%2f06%2fcf%2funtitled48.27c77By Kellen Beck2018-09-13 14:12:37 -0500

More allegations of sexism and harassment have surfaced against Riot Games, the developers behind one of the most popular multiplayer games of all time, League of Legends. 

Kotaku published an article on the accusations Wednesday evening, roughly a month after its bombshell report detailing a pattern of sexism, misogyny, and harassment at Riot Games — suggesting little has changed in the intervening weeks.

That initial report brought to light allegations of systemic sexism from current and former employees of Riot Games, including instances of men openly commenting on women's looks, women's ideas being routinely dismissed, and a lack of opportunities for women at the company. Riot Games, which has a staff that's 80 percent male, was accused by numerous employees of fostering a toxic "bro culture."

In the follow-up report published Wednesday, Kotaku reported on allegations against Riot Games' chief operating officer Scott Gelb, who was accused by multiple unnamed sources of "touching men’s genitals" and "farting near or on male employees." 

Gelb has also been known to "jokingly hump colleagues."

"Everyone knew who did it. Some people thought it was funny."

One employee told Kotaku that this kind of behavior was expected from the executive.

"The ball grabbing and things like that — that was absolutely well known across the board," the employee told Kotaku. "Everyone knew who did it. Some people thought it was funny. Some of us looked at it and thought, ‘Uh, is that really how you want to do this?’ But he got promoted. It was well known he did that and no one stopped it.”

Kotaku also reported that a higher-up male at Riot Games has been accused of making sexual comments at work and even molested a female employee.

In a lengthy statement, a spokesperson for Riot Games told Mashable that a "change" is needed in the company, though it did not comment on the allegations made against Gelb.

"This cultural evolution remains Riot’s first priority and we strongly agree that this change needs to start at the top and that everyone should be held accountable," Riot Games said in a statement. "We will ensure that we have the right leaders in place to drive the change that we know Riot needs."

"League of Legends" promotional art.

"League of Legends" promotional art.

Image: Riot games

Kotaku noted that a handful of former Riot Games employees have supported the claims made in the initial report, including former director of product management Barry Hawkins, who separately detailed his own fruitless experience trying to get co-founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill to realize that homophobic comments and rape jokes are not appropriate for the workplace.

In its statement to Mashable, Riot Games said it has investigated, is investigating, or will investigate every claim from employees.

"Appropriate action is a top priority for us," a spokesperson for the company said.

Of course, we've heard this before. Nearly a month after the initial report from early August, Riot issued an apology with a promise to do better. 

Few public-facing results have emerged, though VentureBeat reported Wednesday that Riot has hired former Uber executive Frances Frei as a senior diversity and culture adviser.

This article has been updated with a new statement from Riot Games.

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