I want to add my voice to the Activision Blizzard lawsuit.
My name is Joy Fields. I worked at Blizzard Entertainment from 2006 to 2012. I started at Blizzard straight out of College at age 20 in the Customer Service department. In 2009 I left CS for Creative Development where I worked as an Assistant Curator. My time there was twofold. I loved a lot of the people who I worked with and remain friends with them to this day, but there was a dark underbelly that every woman at Blizzard knew about. I want to talk about that.
Throughout my time at Blizzard I was constantly treated by men like a sex object. Men in positions of power would offer me trips and money if I would just go out on a date with them. A coworker would constantly 'neg' me as a way of flirting and just generally harass me. When I stood up for myself they would play the victim and tell me to calm down. Another coworker lured me into his office, closed the door and turned the lights off. He then sat next to me on the couch and started talking to me about sex and tried to pressure me to sleep with him. I was harassed by both my senior and lead in CS to the point of openly sobbing at my desk. I have heard from my female friends countless times about instances of men speaking about my body and being generally lewd about me. Some men had the audacity to straight up ask me if my breasts were real to my face and would argue with me when I said "yes". These are the types of things that I dealt with on a day-to-day basis.
I want to point out a few specific instances of sexual harassment by people in positions of power who should have known better. A Battle of the Bands event (a rock band competition that is attended by much of the company) was judged by a panel of senior Blizzard employees. I was playing guitar and just generally rocking out for our performance. During the judging portion of the event one of the judges commented on a microphone in front of the entire company about my breasts. He liked how much I was jumping up and down and thought I had "big talent". Everyone laughed. It was a joke and I was forced to laugh along with it.
Jeff Donais, who at the time was the head of CDev, was shaking a shake weight in his office when I walked past in the hallway. He stopped to make a joke about how I should give the shake weight a try in case I ever needed the talent for giving hand jobs in the future. I am naming this person specifically because he should have known better. He was in a position of power of a small department. This kind of behavior from Men In Power ™ was not just exclusive to dev teams. It happened on the satellite and support teams as well. I was lucky enough to have a direct supervisor who heard this comment and stood up for me. It was the first and only time anyone in a position of power stood up for me. He made it okay for me to be upset by what was happening. Without him I would just have had to take it as a joke and smile.
When I first started working at Blizzard someone found my DeviantArt page. I was a nude model during college and posted my work there. They started an email chain with a link to my modeling and shared it around the office. By my second week at work everyone on the floor had seen me naked. The rumors about it followed me for the rest of my time at the company.
The harassment didn't stop at work and it wasn't just harassment. Assault happened too. Men would pretend to be your friend and then assault you when you felt safe. I have been groped, coerced, and forced into sexual situations at the homes of coworkers and Blizzard events like BlizzCon and holiday parties. Men not taking "no" as an answer and pushing for sex once they had me alone with them. These are the kinds of people that Blizzard would hire. These are the kinds of people who got promoted and were put in positions of power. These people were the main culprits for the toxic culture of Blizzard.
This kind of behavior was prevalent in every department I worked in. It was a hard line to toe. I was a sex positive, sexually empowered woman and I believe that was often exploited due to power imbalances and the pressure to be chill. This kind of behavior was so incredibly normalized I never saw any of it as a problem until years later and some major distance from Blizzard. I was someone who tried hard to be a part of the "boy's club", to fit in, be liked and secure my career. I feel the need to apologize for that and for any behavior I ever exhibited that made anyone feel uncomfortable in any way. I'm sorry I didn't do more or realize how bad things were sooner. I am sure there are many people who would have stepped up but were also trying to fit in. I feel like they are victims of this culture, as well.
I believe this culture was fostered by Blizzard's hiring practices. Hires happened based on a "culture fit" more than anything else, and as we can see, the culture is toxic and one of sexual harassment and assault. For my own part, I'm not sure if my transfer into CDev was based on merit alone, as I was told multiple times by those around me that I was only hired because of my body and for the opportunity of sex. Imagine being told you're a trophy hire all the time, only to be laid off when Blizzard thinks it's time to cut the budget. The imposter syndrome was overwhelming.
This culture is intentional. As a Blizzard employee you are constantly reminded of the devotion required to persist in such a "dream job". Extravagant amounts of money are spent to impress and fascinate employees and distract them from their situation. How lucky everyone must be to work at a company so cool, right? In the end, it is all just tactics to hide the toxic environment while also providing a place for it to thrive. And these tactics worked, even on someone like me who was a stranger to Blizzard's games before I began working with them.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. Other women were put through far worse than I was. I believe every woman who has spoken on this issue thus far. Blizzard needs to be held accountable for what was done and what is still happening. I don't believe that those at the top had no idea what was happening. They knew. They enabled it, and it's long past time for change.