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Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Steps Down After Sexual Harassment Suit and Employee Walkout

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J. Allen Brack, the president of game development company Blizzard, has stepped down from the company “to pursue new opportunities.according to The Verge, though everyone immediately guessed it’s because he’s named in a lawsuit by the state of California that claims that there were multiple instances of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination at the company, or the 2,600 current and former employees that have signed an open letter in support of the lawsuit. Of course, Brack is stepping down as a means of saving face and distancing himself as much as he can from the suit.

The news of Brack’s departure came with the announcement that Vicarious Visions leader Jen Oneal and former Xbox executive Mike Ybarra are now co-leaders of the company, and according to The Verge and Blizzard.com, Oneal and Ybarra, “are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust.”

The video game giant had Brack take over in 2018. Before that, he was pivotal to the development of World of Warcraft, and according to the lawsuit, WOW was at the heart of the toxic culture that was pervasive at Blizzard, leaving many to feel like they were working at a frat house and not a gaming company. These patterns have led to “harassment and pay discrimination against female employees and women of color in particular.

And the more that you read into the lawsuit, the worse that it gets for the women employed there.

It states that there were jokes about rape, men engaging “in banter about sexual encounters,” and others openly talking about female bodies with no respect for their female colleagues. It also says male employees were also given free rein to pass off their responsibilities to female employees because they had to play video games at work for reasons, and that it even came to the point where the complaint against Blizzard specifically said, “This behavior was known to supervisors and indeed encouraged by them, including a male supervisor openly encouraging a male subordinate to ‘buy’ a prostitute to cure his bad mood.”

According to The Verge, Brack stated, “I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.” I don’t know about you guys, but this feels absolutely written by someone who is trying to do damage control to me.

And after reading the ways that supervisors “ignored medical restrictions given to female employees,” micromanaged Black female employees, and criticized female employees, Brack leaving Blizzard is the bare minimum this company can do to fix things. Because I don’t think that this is going to slow down anytime soon. I think that this two-year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) into Blizzard is going to unearth more things that Brack and men like him were hiding.

Ultimately, the truth and real change are what these female employees are owed, and they’ll keep fighting until they get it.

(image: Sascha Steinbach/Getty)

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Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.