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Off TopicMay 17, 2019 4:00 pm CT

Off Topic: Riot Games didn’t budge in response to the walkout, the walkout still matters

Riot Games refused to budge in the wake of the employee walkout held earlier this month in protest of toxic work conditions and the company’s forced arbitration agreement.

But the League of Legends developer is giving no ground. Instead it reiterated its stance on forced arbitration in a statement on its website:

“Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation,” the statement reads — referencing the two current employees that have filed lawsuits against the company for allegedly violating California’s Equal Pay Act.

At the over-100-employee walkout, employees gathered outside the company’s Los Angeles offices and held speeches about the current state of the workplace. A group of volunteers from Game Workers Unite was on-site to provide the Riot employees with water and medical aid.

Although the walkout didn’t change Riot’s stance, it still pressured the company to respond to the protest. Riot had to publicly acknowledge that not every employee agrees with their workplace culture and the forced arbitration.

It’s an important step for Riot and the games industry at large. The Riot walkout was a first in the games industry, but it echoed similar walkouts like the recent Google walkout that resulted in the death of Google’s forced arbitration policy. Whether workers are in technology or in games, their rights matter. Events like the Riot walkout set an example for other workers to fight back against poor working conditions and potentially unionize.

For the people who simply play the games, the Riot walkout shows that the development process isn’t magically free from the tyranny of multi-billion dollar companies. Riot’s massive MOBA might be one of the most successful games in the world, but it comes at a cost to those who work on it. When you see a report about how Red Dead Redemption 2’s horrible crunch periods, Mortal Kombat 9’s horrible crunch periods, Fortnite’s horrible crunch periods, and any other sign of a game’s mistreatment of its developers, you should remember that it all affects real, human lives.

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