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?J.T. Vandenbree, a Riot Games employee, shared the FAQ and added in a Twitter thread:
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.
Some other employees attending the walkout tweeted about the protest, before, during, and after it, with a variety of perspectives and expectations for it.
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: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."
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.
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!