Some of the biggest names in video game streaming are speaking out after California officials sued video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for allegations of a "frat boy" culture that discriminates against women at the company.
As first reported by Bloomberg last week, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has investigated Activision Blizzard, whose titles include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Candy Crush Saga.
The suit alleges an environment of sexual harassment, including jokes about rape and other inappropriate comments. Officials also say there were “cube crawls,” where male employees would drink, wander around the office, and "often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”
It describes one woman who died by suicide on a company trip after allegedly being subject to sexual harassment, including having nude photos of herself passed around by colleagues.
In other cases, the suit alleges that women faced discrimination over childcare or potential pregnancies, or were kicked out of designated lactation areas.
The suit says women at the company were also discriminated against when it came to pay, promotions, and terminations, and that male employees would unfairly delegate tasks to women while they slacked off.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, but the company previously told IGN that it cooperated with investigators. "We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told IGN. "The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past."
The allegations have created waves among gamers, including those who make their living streaming Activision Blizzard games on places like Twitch.
Among those now speaking out is Asmongold, a longtime World of Warcraft streamer with 2.3 million Twitch subscribers, who talked about the lawsuit in a recent stream. He tore into the company's statement at length, but also cautioned players from playing "devil's advocate" in this case.
"Just try to keep that in mind. These people are not on your side," he said during the stream. "These people going down, these people going to jail, these people being fired, these people being excommunicated from the gaming, and hopefully the professional space at large, this is not a loss for you."
He also noted players should care not just because of the disturbing nature of the allegations, but because a company with such conditions won't be doing its best work.
There was recently strife within the World of Warcraft community over how long it took for the game's latest patch to come out, leading many, including Asmongold, to give games like Final Fantasy XIV a try instead.
Another World of Warcraft streamer, HazelNuttyGames, who is also known for her how-to videos on YouTube, uploaded a video about the lawsuit.
She said she was optimistic that this could be a reckoning for the whole industry.
"These sorts of things happen when people believe they are acceptable," she said. "The problem is that it’s very easy for someone to be against discrimination in theory, but when it’s their own job and their own coworkers and their own reputation on the line, all of a sudden it’s complicated."
A Hearthstone creator, Alliestrasza, posted a video saying she would forgo a new card reveal on her YouTube channel due to the allegations.
Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard employees are taking their own action as well.
According to CNN, more than 2,000 former and current employees signed a letter calling the company's response to the allegations “abhorrent and insulting.”
"To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership," reads the letter, which was published in full by Vice.
Kotaku reported employees are also planning to stage a walkout on Wednesday.