Monday, September 20, 2021

Blizzard is removing unspecified inappropriate references from World of Warcraft

The World of Warcraft team has vowed to remove “references that are not appropriate for our world” in “the coming days” following California’s major sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit filed against World of Warcraft developer Activision Blizzard last week.

The World of Warcraft team’s statement Tuesday didn’t specify what “references” they would remove. It is possible that NPCs or items named for former could be removed. World of Warcraft senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi may be taken out of the game — although Afrasiabi seemingly left Blizzard in June 2020, his stamp on the game remains, as Kotaku reported Thursday.

Afrasiabi was singled out in the lawsuit for his horrible behavior, which the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) says included “blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions.” The complaint provides more detail, which I am prefacing with a Warning about descriptions of sexual harassment:

In a blatant example of Defendants’ refusal to deal with a harasser because of his seniority/position, Alex Afrasiabi, the former Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment, was permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions. Afrasiabi would harass female employees at a company convention, called BlizzCon, by telling them he wanted to marry them and then attempting to kiss them. Afrasiabi was doing this in plain sight of male employees and supervisors. Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite” after alleged rapist Bill Crosby. Afrasiabi was known to call female employees derogatory names at company events. Afrasiabi’s conduct was known to Blizzard Entertainment’s executives, who took no effective remedial measures. J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment, allegedly had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi about his drinking and that he had been “too friendly” towards female employees at company events but gave Afrasiabi a slap on the wrist (i.e. In response to these incidents, Afrasiabi received verbal counseling. Subsequently, Afrasiabi continued to make unwanted advances towards female employees, including grabbing a female employee’s hand and inviting her to his hotel room and groping another woman.

The lawsuit also alleges the following: World of WarcraftThe team encouraged and allowed women to behave in a way that was extremely disturbing. “Female employees working for the World of Warcraft team noted that male employees and supervisors would hit on them, make derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise engage in demeaning behavior,” according to the complaint.

The complete statement was published by the World of Warcraftteam, which was also posted on Twitter:

It was clear from our team conversations that we wanted to put forth a statement that was representative of the World of Warcraft team’s sentiments. We asked everyone on our team to give us their feedback and suggestions on how to best address the community. This is the end result.

The past days were a time of reflection for World of Warcraft. They were filled with conversation and contemplation, sadness, pain and anger, but also hope, resolve, and a lot of hope. As we pay tribute to the brave women who have shared their experiences, we pledge to take the steps necessary to ensure that we provide a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for both our team and our players in Azeroth. Leaders understand that it is not their place to judge whether we have met our goals. It is up to our team and community to let us know when there are still things to do.

While we look to our team to provide guidance in our internal efforts to protect marginalized groups, and hold those responsible for their threats accountable, we also want Azeroth to immediately take action to remove references that are inappropriate for our world. This work is already underway and you will soon see several changes to Shadowlands as well as WoW Classic.

We know that trust can only be rebuilt if we show our commitment in the coming weeks and months. We are confident that we share the same vision with our community to create a place where people from all backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations can thrive and call home.

—The World of Warcraft Team

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