It's taken me six years to talk about this
The first time it happened to me was April 6, 2014. I had just received my verbal offer from Riot Games, but was still waiting to sign my contract. It was my first real job in the game industry, and initially, it really did feel like my dream job at my dream studio. I had only moved to Los Angeles from Louisiana that prior November, so I was beyond thrilled to start my new job and make some cool coworker friends who played a game I loved. My ex (a former Riot game designer) and I were hanging out when he was messaged by some EU Rioters who were in town, drunk, and wanted to crash our party. Again, new job, new coworkers - I was nearly shaking with excitement at meeting these people. Two of them were famous shoutcasters, and the other was a cute girl - all from an EU team.
We sat in my ex’s living room for a while, drinking cinnamon-infused vodka he made, chattering about League of Legends, esports, Riot gossip, and Game of Thrones. I was really new to drinking so I found myself caught up to the newcomers’ level pretty quickly. The cute girl and I hit it off and ended up on the balcony mutually flirting while she smoked, and then one of the EU shoutcasters (no longer working at Riot) walked out and inserted himself in between us.
I still am not brave enough to name him right now. He asked us to join him at his hotel for a threesome, to which we both declined (she was interested in the other guy, actually, and ended up marrying him later). He put his hand fully under my skirt, touching me without asking, and said something douchey. I physically jerked back and said no.
But I had had a lot to drink so despite me saying no, I still found myself pressured by him into going back to the hotel with them. I figured I could walk them there (all three were staying in the same hotel, having traveled for work - but different rooms), and find a chill way out when I got there. It's hard for me to look back at this now, wanting to know why the hell I cared about not rocking the boat even after being violated by this guy. But this shoutcaster was well known and I was still waiting on my contract to be sent by Riot. I was drunk and anxious and utterly convinced if I called him out, that my career in the game industry would be over before it had ever started. After getting to the hotel and making it to his room, I told him I had to throw up and went to the bathroom and made myself vomit. He was grossed out; I was victorious. I left, called an Uber, and went home.
Then he added me to Facebook. Again, I tried to be the "cool" girl, trying to shift the topic to work/life when he got thirsty or alternating to silence when he hit me up with a "hey yous" for the third time in a row. I spent my first month at Riot scared I'd accidentally run into him, or worse, that he would gossip about me to colleagues and give people reasons to take me less seriously. He asked for pictures one time. A few times he asked if I had a boyfriend. When I started to date someone some months later, he repeatedly asked me if I was faithful to him, and when all Rioters were all in Seoul for Worlds in October 2014, he asked me if my "relationship still counted on different continents." I said, "Yes," and never responded to him again. He eventually stopped messaging me after a couple of months of no responses.
I found out later from the girl that he was always this way and apparently had a girlfriend. When questioned, he was said to have claimed he "didn't like her all that much."
Within my first month at Riot, a different male Rioter - a friend whose apartment I moved into briefly with two other people - spread rumors that I had only been with a Rioter (my ex, who broke up with me), to get my job and then broke up with him once I secured a job, implying that I didn't work my ass off to get my role. HR got involved against my will, had me move out of the shared apartment that day, and then told him to just not talk to me. Even though two different people reported they were told this specifically by him, he acted incredulous and didn't accept any accountability. I was a junior woman in my first industry role and he was a senior manager who had leverage/power over me, a new employee. This absolutely affected my professional credibility initially, and there were a few colleagues who heard those rumors and treated me differently because I guess it was easy to believe about the new girl.
Flash forward to PAX East 2014. My first non-BlizzCon con and my first time traveling alone and to Seattle. I went to the con itself alone but crashed at a friend's house to sleep.
I ended up with some friends of industry friends for drinks at an after-party with an open bar, and they introduced me to some professional acquaintances sitting with them. We did the usual back-and-forth you do at these things: where were you from, where did you work, what did you do, did you have a family, etc?
We continued to drink and talk late into the night. One guy there talked at length about his wife and kids. He seemed like a decent guy at the time. He kept pressuring me to drink more, even though I told him I had already had enough to drink and was a lightweight. He started pulling the game industry veteran card, saying I needed to be able to keep up with the boys. I was still new to the industry and wanted to make friends, so I eventually caved to pressure. I didn't want to lose professional clout, so I continued to drink the things he placed in front of me. I was barely able to walk when it was time for us to head out.
He offered to share an uber home with me since the friend I was staying with was in his general direction. He sat in the back seat next to me, and started putting his hands on me. He then put his hand down the front of my dress and started groping. I remember whispering, "Please stop.." He didn't. I said loudly, so the uber driver would hear, "I know you're not a bad guy. You have a family." He stopped.
We got to my friend's house and he followed me, asking to come in to "use the restroom." He had no idea my friend was an intimidatingly tall man who would stare him down until he left.
The next day, I looked up his name on LinkedIn and for whatever dumb reason, I didn't screenshot or save it. But I remember he worked at ArenaNet and was really shocked at how senior he was at the time; he was at least director level. I went to my friend who was working at PAX to try to help, but he didn't know the guy. At the time, I was hoping he would know literally anyone he could refer me to in order to report him, but I was kind of shrugged off. (To my friend's credit, I recently reached out for more info about the ArenaNet guy and he apologized for not speaking up for me.) It's likely I'll never know who this piece of crap is and it sucks knowing he's probably an exec somewhere, exploiting the power dynamic with junior professionals in order to be the important person.
It feels like such a betrayal - that this industry lures you in with your passion for games and this we're-all-friends networking vibe, so you go in with your guard down. You don't expect this of your heroes and friends. But that's exactly what's going on in our industry.
There are so many more instances and micro offenses that aren't here. Blizzard wasn't immune to creeps and people ready to excuse them, either. I had several friends who would actually try to like touch/rub my lower back and other stuff like that while with my now-husband was nearby (like when we went to karaoke rooms). This stuff happened pretty frequently with all my female friends too - so many more you aren't seeing even with all these callouts.
In fact.. I don't know a female colleague, current or past, who's been in this industry for a year or longer who doesn't have a story. This is normal for us. This SHOULDN'T be normal.