Ex-Blizzard developers who started Notorious Studios seem to have exactly zero women on their development team. The staff page shows nine developers and two advisors, all of which are men, and one canine “Chief Morale Officer” named Ellie. Which means that the studio has more dogs than women. Yikes.
Notorious Studios is an RPG studio made entirely of former Blizzard developers, most of whom worked on World of Warcraft.
Although Activision Blizzard is currently under legal and public scrutiny for gender discrimination, a report from 2017 confirmed that at least 21 percent of their employees were women. So, presumably, the founder had met at least a couple of women who were skilled enough to work at one of the highest-profile video game companies in the world. He just…didn’t hire any of them to be a part of the founding team. Kotaku reached out to Kaleiki for a comment yesterday but did not receive a response.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Notorious Studio co-founder Kaleiki acknowledged that Blizzard faces a major reckoning for gender discrimination and sexual harassment. He said that the all-male team was also affected by Blizzard’s troubles and offered a solution for avoiding their former employer’s mistakes:
“What’s important is starting a culture and having no tolerance for harassment and things like that, and also being transparent and open,” Kaleiki said. He added that Notorious Studios has a “flatter structure,” made up of people who wrote code, made art, and designed pieces of games rather than serving as leads or directors.
“Harassment usually comes from a subordinate-superior sort of relationship. We’re hoping that [a] flatter structure can address some of those problems,” he said in the interview.
It’s definitely a lot harder for men to harass women if there are no women to harass. But the gender equity problem in game development remains. Do women have access to the large amounts of venture capital funding that has become available to studio founders during the pandemic? At Notorious Studios, the answer seems to be a resounding “no.” The company lists Riot Games as one of its investors, which is still dealing with the PR fallout of its own gender discrimination reckoning following a class action lawsuit by its female employees.
In the light of all this, hopefully Kaleiki will find some women to join his World of Warcraft guild.