California sued gaming giant Activision Blizzard, alleging widespread harassment of female staff. A male supervisor delegated his work to a female employee so he could play Call of Duty, the suit said.

Gaming giant Activision Blizzard's silver logo on one of its storefronts.
California state has field a sex discrimination lawsuit against gaming company Activision Blizzard

  • California sued gaming giant Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, alleging a “frat boy” culture.
  • A state agency said female staff were constantly sexually harassed and paid less for their work.
  • Activision Blizzard said the suit included “distorted” and “false” claims.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California’s fair employment agency filed a lawsuit against gaming giant Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, accusing the Call of Duty publisher of a “pervasive frat boy” in which female employees were routinely harassed.

In one alleged incident, a “newly promoted male supervisor delegated his responsibilities to his now female subordinates in favor of playing Call of Duty,” the filing said.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard and two subsidiaries – Activision Publishing and World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment – after a two-year investigation into working conditions for female staff, Bloomberg Law first reported.

DFEH said in Tuesday’s filing to the Los Angeles Supreme Court that women at the company were discriminated against, subjected to “constant sexual harassment,” groped, paid less for “substantially similar work,” and retaliated against by company HR when they complained.

“Unsurprisingly, [the] Defendants’ ‘frat boy’ culture is a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement that “the picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today.”

“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,” the statement said.

“We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind,” the spokesperson said.

“We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue.”

Read more: 52 Black ex-franchisees file a $1 billion racial-discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming the company sent them on ‘financial suicide missions’

The lawsuit detailed claims that some male workers engaged in “cube crawls” where they would “drink copious amounts of alcohol” and move between cubicles in the office, often behaving inappropriately towards their female coworkers.

Some male workers made sexual advances to female employees on the World of Warcraft team, and also made derogatory comments about rape, the lawsuit claimed.

The agency said in the filing that one female Activision Blizzard worker died by suicide during a business trip. A male coworker she had previously had a sexual relationship with was also on the trip, the suit said. Police found that the male supervisor had brought a butt plug and lubricant on the trip, DFEH said.

Another employee said the woman had suffered sexual harassment at work before her death, DFEH said.

It is not clear when the trip happened. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson said in a statement to Insider that the employee’s suicide had “no bearing whatsoever on this case.”

The lawsuit alleged that Activision Blizzard’s female workers – which it said makes up around 20% of its workforce – were also promoted more slowly, while women in executive roles earned “less salary, incentive pay, and total compensation than their male peers,” citing Activision Blizzard’s own records with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

DFEH said that it filed the suit on grounds of unequal pay, sex discrimination, unlawful sexual harassment, retaliation, and for failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The agency said it was suing in the public interest and for Activision Blizzard’s female employees.

The agency is seeking compensation and punitive damages, and unpaid and lost wages for female workers, among other demands, although did not specify how much.

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A new invite-only iPhone app lets people gamble real money on matches of ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Fortnite’

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Courtesy 1v1Me

  • New app 1v1Me will allow video gamers to place bets on “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite” in one-on-ones.
  • The players must link to their bank accounts and agree on a wager before starting the game.
  • The founders said the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to create their idea for a betting app.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Players can now place wagers on one-on-one video games using a new app called 1v1Me that was inspired by at-home betting during the pandemic.

The app, first reported on by TechCrunch, will allow gamers to place wagers in one-on-one matches on “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite” while at home.

1v1Me launched with well-known content creators, such as NoisyButters, joining in. It is starting off small and supporting just two video games, so that it’s a “much more controlled environment,” said founder Anthony Geranio in an interview with Insider.

To participate, you have to get an invite to play from a content creator on the app. Geranio said the app now has nearly 12,000 people waiting to play.

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Inside the 1v1Me app. Courtesy of 1v1Me

Once invited, 1v1Me confirms a player’s identity. Then, players must add a bank account to the app and agree with an opponent on how much to wager. 1v1Me then places the money from their bets into escrow. The gamers use livestreaming service Twitch when they play the game. This allows others to watch the match and 1v1Me to monitor it to ensure it’s fair and determine who wins. Once concluded, 1v1Me transfers the money to the winner’s bank account.

To place a bet on a game, a player must be 18. Minors can still play with the app, but they can’t wager on the match, the founder said. He added that the app only operates in the 48 states where it’s legal to wager on skill-based games.

Read more: A video game tutor who makes up to $5,000 a month shares how he built a career teaching people how to win at ‘League of Legends’

Before launching, Geranio and co-founder Alex Emmanuel raised $2 million in financing. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to create the app, Geranio said, as they saw friends spending their time at home placing bets on online poker and playing video games.

Geranio said his mission for the company is “to help more gamers make a living from esports.” Geranio said he wants to generate the next wave of gaming content creators on popular platforms like YouTube and Twitch.

“Kids today are waking up and want to become YouTube stars, versus doctors and astronauts,” he said. “The No. 1 place to make YouTube content is in gaming.”

Gamer NoisyButters, who also invested in the app, tweeted a photo with the new app Monday, saying she used to put her one-on-one record in “Call of Duty” on her XBox biography, but “now there’s an app for it.”

Live esports tournaments faced struggles amid the pandemic, and the industry, which was set to hit $1 billion in 2020, missed the mark as leagues forfeited their arena events but kept the seasons alive. Since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, consulting agency Activate predicted people could bet as much as $150 billion per year by 2023.

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