Yesterday afternoon, Tumblr user “Qu33riosity” put up a scathing post on his blog about the racism he encountered while working at hardcore social game developer Kixeye. Within a few hours, the entry had gone viral and Kixeye was being called out across the web for enabling such behavior to occur in its high-end San Francisco office.
The entry detailed Qu33riosity’s hiring on at Kixeye before documenting the barrage of verbal abuse and racism he and other workers on his team had to deal with. He called former co-workers out by their first name, and detailed a number of instances that included him being asked if he could rap because he was black, being told by a manager he dressed too “thuggish” for the office (posting a photo of the outfit he was wearing at the time) and being told it was acceptable to joke about slavery because it’s been abolished.
Qu33riosity’s post has since been taken down from his blog, but Kotaku has a number of passages you can read. Since then, Kixeye issued an official response from CEO Will Harbin:
Five hours ago, I was shocked to learn through a blog post of a former short-term contract employee about allegations of discriminatory behavior at KIXEYE. WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. After an initial investigation we’ve taken substantial corrective action and will continue to do so as appropriate. The actions described in the blog post do not represent the cultural standards at KIXEYE (as demonstrated by our diverse and talented team) and will NOT be tolerated.
Harbin’s comment about “substantial corrective action” makes it sound as though there was more than a grain of truth to the blog post, but nothing more is being said by the company right now.
Video game developers are often associated with cultivating environments of chauvinism by the general public, even when there’s no evidence of it. Kixeye’s recent recruiting video and public transit ads throughout San Francisco have cultivated a perception that the company caters even more to the “bro-grammer” culture than most.
For Kixeye, this is a bad time to be associated with hostile working environments, since the company is on a hiring tear and bringing on roughly 25 to 30 new employees a month. Aside from the recently-revealed “Live Battle” update to War Commander, the studio has four new games in development and is gearing up to launch its own web portal to appeal to gamers who aren’t on Facebook.