We have been reporting on the Riot Games employees organizing a protest walkout since last week, starting on April 29 as they announced their plans, and later as Riot Games announced that they will drop mandatory arbitration for new employees, along with a roadmap for their Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Yesterday we reported that the number of employees likely to attend the walkout would be about 100, out of an estimated 2,500 employees currently working at Riot Games.
According to a public FAQ released on Google Docs by the organizers of the walkout, they were aiming to reach about 15% of the company, which would amount to about 500 employees. According to a Kotaku report, about 150 employees attended the walkout. Here you can see three fully-transcribed speeches by Riot Games employees. Some highlights include:
To the senior leadership, I ask you, why force arbitration? You have said that maintaining private arbitration for current Rioters is the best option. For who is this the best action? For the plaintiffs, who have publicly shared their stories of systemic harassment and career suppression? Or the alleged perpetrators of misconduct, who fear for the consequences they may face?
We are not here because we hate Riot. We are here because we believe in the values that Riot has proclaimed. Rioters are Riot. We are Riot. The select few members of senior leadership alone do not comprise Riot. And we believe that it’s our duty, as Riot, to hold these select few members of senior leadership accountable when the system they designed has failed the company they promised to protect.
We want Rioters to present a unified front. I spent every day listening to people who were scared. There’s a gap here between our sense of safety and leadership’s perception of those numbers.
That’s why this is important. That’s why we’re out here in a parking lot together! Because we show up for each other. We put Rioters before players because players cannot get great things if even one of us becomes collateral damage of a culture that’s slow to reform.
We have seen leadership trying to do the right thing for the people who work here. And they have already committed to change things for people who do not work here yet. Today, I expect Riot to move mountains for us, as Rioters have moved mountains for players, as Rioters have given players the coral reef, Rioters have given players the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
We are here today to do just that. [They’ve explained] the rationale behind forced arbitration, and suggested a lot of reasons why it might be a good thing. They’ve suggested the cost that Riot and Rioters might otherwise incur. Things like years of litigation, financial burden, lack of closure. So it seems to me that the question of forced arbitration is ultimately a question of the cost of accountability.
J.T. Vandenbree, a Riot Games employee, shared the FAQ and added in a Twitter thread:
This is an ANTI-POLICY protest. It is not anti-Riot, and it is not about individuals in particular.
The goal is to show solidarity and force action. It is NOT to disrupt services or "force" change by harming Riot, LoL, or players. (2/4) #Riotwalkout
— J.T. Vandenbree (@RiotTiza) May 6, 2019
Some other employees attending the walkout tweeted about the protest, before, during, and after it, with a variety of perspectives and expectations for it.
I started off on the fence of whether or not I was going to attend the #RiotWalkout and ended up speaking out about my experiences. I was so inspired by the familiar faces in the crowd and all the voices lending strength to solidarity. I truly believe in Riot’s progress.
— K/DA Iris?? (@RiotNyanbun) May 7, 2019
I'll be walking out today, to show leadership that I want Riot to be better, to be the company we say we want to be, starting with the company policy of forced arbitration. #RiotWalkout
— Jo Graylock (@JoGraylock) May 6, 2019
I’m participating in the #riotwalkout today, because arbitration should be optional, not forced.
— Oh No, Ro (@rnoelliams) May 6, 2019
Today myself and several of my co-workers are standing up for what is right, just, and fair in regards to Forced Arbitration and Sexual Harassment. Its 2019, and forcing anyone to sit in a room with the company/person who did this and "talk it out" is unacceptable. #riotwalkout
— Mel Capperino-Garcia (@Riotswimbananas) May 6, 2019
I am participating in the #riotwalkout today. It should not be legal to force workers into arbitration when they suffer sexual harassment– or any other discrimination, really. It's already not legal in several states. I'd like my company to be on the cutting edge of this issue!!
— Laura Michet (@lmichet) May 6, 2019
— Colleen A. Tulley (she/her) (@TheGeeksMeow) May 6, 2019
Happy to stand alongside my colleagues today for the #RiotWalkout. It's time for Riot to realize that sexual harassment won't stand, senior leadership shouldn't be protected, and forced arbitration (which btw disproportionately affects women and minorities) isn't okay.
— Bret Forbus (@RiotAshekandi) May 6, 2019
— Xaafira (@induTHEwriter) May 6, 2019
I'm not joining the walkout physically today because big angry crowds spike my anxiety, but I am fully behind the #riotwalkout and stand with my coworkers today. Riot hasn't done enough to clean house, and I won't personally be satisfied with anything less than pristine.
— Katie Chironis (@kchironis) May 6, 2019
Attending #riotwalkout later today with complex feelings. So much good work has been done in the space over the last year. I'm grateful for the progress but know Riot needs to do better and be more proactive.
— Davin Pavlas (@onidavin) May 6, 2019
i will be speaking at the #RiotWalkout today to share messages of support from players and workers from other companies. I am so proud to be at Riot and things are getting better, but we have a long way to go to make it truly inclusice. Let’s make Riot a dream job for ANYONE pic.twitter.com/bWCflsqMJb
— im jocelyn (@guldeuxchats) May 6, 2019
Today is the #RiotWalkout. Time to show leadership we are serious. Sexual harassment and protecting abusers will not be tolerated. We deserve to work at a place where we feel safe and welcomed.
— Riot LadyGnar | Kiley (@MissyKiley) May 6, 2019
Hi friends! I'm walking out today as part of the #RiotWalkout. It's pretty clear if you work in tech right now that using forced arbitration to handle sexual harassment and assault allegations quietly isn't leading to cultural change or making work safer. Let us end it.
— Emily Price is Right (@emilypisright) May 6, 2019
My employer, @RiotGames has the potential of being one the best places to work in the games industry.
Practices such as Forced Arbitration, which Riot enforces against employees in the US (but not other countries where it's illegal AF) deny that potential.#RiotWalkout
— End Forced Arbitration #RiotWalkout (@caylenb) May 6, 2019
I will be supporting and showing solidarity with Rioters past, present, and future by participating in the #RiotWalkout
— Riot Stellari (@thejanellemj) May 6, 2019
Honestly: I’m proud of Riot’s improvements to D&I this last year. But we need to keep going. I’m walking out today to support ending forced arbitration for all Riot workers – particularly in cases of discrimination, harassment, and abuse. #RiotWalkout
— Alex Jaffe (@Blinkity) May 6, 2019
— ? Sara Dadafshar (@npcSara) May 6, 2019
Supporting my colleagues during the #RiotWalkout today. We all love Riot and want our company to be better.
Whether you’re at work, another office or supporting by not being present at the office today thanks for making a statement.
— K/DA Elie (@RiotVe1vet) May 6, 2019
I, too, will be standing with my coworkers during the #Riotwalkout. Normally I'd add something funny here for contrast but hey, not tryna dig on collective action.
— Jared Rosen (@notquitefrodo) May 6, 2019
I am SO proud of everyone who showed up today at the #RiotWalkout. Together, by sharing and listening, no matter how daunting the challenge, we can work to make Riot into the place we each dreamed it would be when we eagerly accepted our offer letters. We're in this together. ✨ https://t.co/JTuiq3E5yO
— Ronnie Blackburn (@RiotKidRonnie) May 7, 2019
For more details on the goals of the protest, we can refer to the FAQ to learn more about it.
We do not believe this risk outweighs the benefits of allowing victims of harassment and discrimination to choose their course of justice, and our request remains the same:
We are calling for Riot leaders to end forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination in all past, current, and future contracts for all employees, including contractors. This includes withdrawing the motion for forced arbitration in active suits.
We want to see a precise timeline for when those amendments will happen.
Jocelyn Monahan, a social listening strategist at Riot who’s seemingly not on Twitter, but whose April 29 Medium post “Diversity in Games: A Manifesto,” addressed the Riot Games situation, also made a statement at the end of the walkout, as reported by Kotaku in an update, giving the company’s upper management a deadline: “…if Riot management doesn’t make any sort of commitment on forced arbitration by May 16—the date of the next Riot Unplugged meeting—she and others involved with the walkout will take further action.”
What do you think of the Riot Games employee walkout? Is there any perspective you believe could be included here? Let us know in the comments below!