The World of Warcraft team has sworn to remove “referrals not appropriate for our world” in “coming days” after major California sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit filed against World of Warcraft developer Activision Blizzard last week.
The World of Warcraft the team’s statement Tuesday did not specify which “credentials” they would remove. But it seems possible that NPCs and items named after former World of Warcraft senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi could be taken out of the game – although Afrasiabi seemingly left Blizzard in June 2020, it continues to leave its mark on the game, as Kotaku reported on Thursday.
Afrasiabi was singled out in the lawsuit for his atrocious behavior, which the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) says included “blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussion.” The complaint gives more details, which I preface with a content warning for sexual harassment descriptions:
In a blatant example of Defendants’ refusal to address a harassment due to his seniority/position, Alex Afrasiabi, the former Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment, was allowed to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no implications. At a corporate event (an annual convention called Blizz Con), Afrasiabi attacked female employees, told him he wanted to marry them, tried to kiss them and wrapped his arms around them. This was clearly visible to other male employees, including supervisors, who had to step in and rip him off from female employees. Afrasiabi was so well known for harassing women that his suite was nicknamed “Crosby Suite” after alleged rapist Bill Crosby. Afrasiabi would also call women derogatory names at corporate events. Afrasiabi’s behavior was known to Blizzard Entertainment executives, who failed to take effective corrective action. J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment, reportedly had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi about his alcohol use and that he had been “too friendly” to female employees at corporate events, but slapped Afrasiabi on the wrist (i.e., oral counseling) in response to these incidents. Subsequently, Afrasiabi continued to make unwanted advances towards female employees, including grabbing a female employee’s hand and inviting her into his hotel room and groping another woman.
The lawsuit also alleges that the World of Warcraft team allowed and encouraged extremely disturbing behavior towards women. “Female employees who work for the World of Warcraft The team noted that male employees and executives would attack them, make derogatory comments about rape, and otherwise behave degradingly,” the indictment said.
Here is the full statement published by the World of Warcraft team, that was also posted on Twitter:
It was clear from our team conversations that we wanted to make a statement that was representative of the feelings of the World of Warcraft team. We’ve asked all members of our team to send us their suggestions and feedback on how best to engage the community and here’s the result.
The past few days have been a time of reflection for the World of Warcraft team, spent in conversation and contemplation, filled with sadness, pain and anger, as well as hope and determination. As we listen to the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences, we are committed to taking the necessary actions to ensure we provide an inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for both our team and our players. in Azeroth. Those of us in leadership understand that it is not our place to judge when we have achieved our goals, but that our team and community let us know when we have more to do.
As we turn to our team for guidance on our internal work to protect marginalized groups and hold accountable those who threaten them, we also want to take immediate action in Azeroth to remove credentials that are not appropriate for our world. This work is ongoing and you will see several such changes in both Shadowlands and WoW Classic in the coming days.
We know we need to earn trust through our actions over the coming weeks and months to rebuild trust. But we move forward knowing that we share the same vision as our community about creating a place where people of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations and backgrounds can thrive and proudly call them home.
—The World of Warcraft Team