Riot Games employees may soon start a walkout

Talk of employee abuse and sexism at Riot Games is unfortunately nothing new. The League of Legends company has been under public fire for this and more since last year. However, the company has done seemingly little to nothing about it. Now, Riot Games employees are discussing a walkout if things don’t change.

News surrounding a walkout comes to us shortly after Kotaku reported Friday about the company blocking employees from filing lawsuits against it. Even worse, Riot is apparently in its rights to do so. The group claims that workers, notably the women, signed arbitration clauses at their time of hire. However, Kotaku’s story from Friday seems to have prompted some changes, according to Waypoint.

Now, the act of blocking allegations has been made public. In response, Riot’s chief diversity officer Angela Roseboro sent out a Slack message to employees over the weekend. Some workers on the receiving end of that message spoke to Waypoint while remaining anonymous.

These employees reveal that talk of a walkout “has been brewing among a number of folks” since Kotaku’s big breakdown this past summer. That said, the publication’s most recent piece seems to have made an extra impact. Roseboro had heard of the walkout and spoke on it via the Slack message:

“We’re also aware there may be an upcoming walkout and recognize some Rioters are not feeling heard. We want to open up a dialogue on Monday and invite Rioters to join us for small group sessions where we can talk through your concerns, and provide as much context as we can about where we’ve landed and why. If you’re interested, please take a moment to add your name to this spreadsheet. We’re planning to keep these sessions smaller so we can have a more candid dialogue.”

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On top of this, Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent sent out an email after hearing about the talk. There, Laurent said that he is “empathetic” to the situation and “will always support Rioters” in voicing their issues. He also shared a media statement regarding this:

“We’re proud of our colleagues for standing up for what they believe in. We always want Rioters to have the opportunity to be heard, so we’re sitting down today with Rioters to listen to their opinions and learn more about their perspectives on arbitration. We will also be discussing this topic during our biweekly all-company town hall on Thursday. Both are important forums for us to discuss our current policy and listen to Rioter feedback, which are both important parts of evaluating all of our procedures and policies, including those related to arbitration.”

Regardless, talk of the walkout is still going on. One employee says the walkout group has “support from a larger number of people” separate from the planning process. Others are unhappy with the idea of a closed group session. “Overall, I think Rioters are sick of feeling like they have no visibility into what leadership is actually doing to improve,” says another employee.

However, if Riot Games have failed to implement any substantial changes as of now, it’s unlikely they’re going to do without significant action. All of the company responses have been boilerplate as if they want to brush this situation under the rug. It’s unsurprising that employees have been planning a walkout for this long, and I would expect one to happen regardless of what Roseboro or any other higher-ups try to do to stop it.