“I think it’s about showing that we are willing to get our feet on the ground and start this conversation,” she said. “Maybe make a small noticeable impact, a jolt.”
Monday’s efforts, she said, is more about perception. She said that she hasn’t heard any talk of unionizing at Riot, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going on.
Another Riot walkout is planned for Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday, when it isn’t a national holiday in Ireland. Organizers predict at least 100 of the staff will walk out, though estimates of potential walkouts have been as high as 500.
Reached for comment Monday, Riot provided a statement to Variety.
This has been a pretty big year for action that smells like a union but isn’t.” “I think just the fact that Riot already made a small change based on collective action is really big,” she said. “That is what is new for the industry.
Some who walked out or were at the walkout posted images from the protest.
We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. “While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach.


The statement went on to note that the Rioters are not alone.
"We've all experienced some form of harassment throughout our careers and we want our voices heard," she told Variety via email. "I was really content working at Blizzard when Riot reached out to me to join them last year, but what really convinced me to jump ship was their advocacy for change and making the industry as a whole a better place and pave the way for what good can be. The recent decision revolving around forced arbitration has me questioning the direction we are moving towards, and I'd like to voice my concern around the matter.
The group also released a “statement of solidarity with the workers of Riot.”
In the hours leading up to the walkout, a hashtag — #RiotWalkout — began to gain steam on Twitter with people mostly offering support for the people protesting including developers from other studios and Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFLCIO.


“As we have been for the past week, we will continue to listen to Rioters regarding their thoughts on arbitration and we’re thankful for everyone that has taken the time to meet with leadership about this issue.”


In what many industry insiders believe is a North American first, employees of video game developer Riot Games walked out of their jobs on Monday to protest treatment at the company.
Riot’s recent decision to rid itself of some forms of mandatory arbitration will only take place after current litigation is resolved and in its current state, the promise wouldn’t impact current employees, only new hires.
" The walkout at Riot is the next step in the fight to improve this industry that we all love so much. But through it all, game workers have started having tough but necessary discussions, we've built communities of support, and we've organized against several growing negative trends in our industry. This walkout is the culmination of countless days, weeks, months, and years of work, lessons learned, and careers spent throughout our industry. "The past year has seen a lot of change in the game industry, a lot of turmoil.


The organizer who spoke with Variety said there’s no firm plan about what will happen next if Riot doesn’t change its arbitration policies to meet what they’re asking for but sees Monday’s walkout as a pivotal moment both for the studio and the game industry at large.
“You are demonstrating to all of us in this industry that real change can only come when you and your coworkers stand up for one another, share mutual respect, and develop deep relationships of care and support in the workplace.”
We respect Rioters who choose to walkout today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not). “We support Rioters making their voices heard today. We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times.
While Riot announced on Friday that it would soon start giving new employees the option to opt-out of such arbitration, Monday’s event organizers said it isn’t enough.
Today you carry that movement forward.” “Today you build upon that foundation laid by countless workers before you who refused to accept things as they were and built a better world. “There exists a long and storied history of people, regular people, fighting fights just like yours in the game, tech, and entertainment industries,” they wrote.
“We are walking out against forced arbitration of past, current, and future employees, including contractors and those involved in current litigation,” an organizer who asked that her name not be used told Variety. She added that they don’t want it to be an opt-out option, but rather just not part of the contracts.
Today the workers of Riot have set an inspiring example for us all. "The organizers have been working tirelessly, day and night, to support their coworkers, get the message out, and fight for a better workplace. "We are so proud of all the work the people at Riot have put into preparing for their walkout," said Emma Kinema, international organizer with the group.
Sarah Dadafshar, a technical product manager at Riot Games, said the company's forced arbitration policies has her questioning her job.
“We in the labor movement know that change doesn't come about from nice words and daydreaming, it comes about only through day-to-day struggles, building solidarity with your coworkers, speaking out, and showing up even when it feels like no one else will join you,” according to the statement. “Well, today you have certainly shown up and used your collective voice to make a demand more powerful than any one of you could have done alone.
Specifically the Rioters — the internal nickname for employees of the studio behind “League of Legends,” were protesting the company’s use of mandatory arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.
The walkout was spurred by Riot’s attempts to end two lawsuits — both about sexism and misconduct at the studio — via forced arbitration. The promise to make changes to the company’s arbitration came after Riot Games employees started planning a walkout.
Ideally, they'd reconsider and help support the whole of Riot equally." "I'm hoping leadership will listen and realize the impact that the decision they are making has on many Rioters.
PT. PT with some employees leaving the Riot offices to gather in a guest parking lot outside. The event is meant to wrap up at 4 p.m. The plan is to have a number of guest speakers talk, an opportunity for others to speak to the gathering, and then for the gathering to break into groups to discuss issues they face at Riot. The walkout kicked off at the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices at 2 p.m.
Do you have stories you’d like to share about working at Riot or other studios under crunch or other adverse work conditions? Email Variety Gaming at GamingTips@Variety.com” />
While organizers say the walkout isn’t linked to any union effort, Game Workers Unite plans to be at the event to offer their support.
The forced arbitration is what pushed it over the edge, she said. The organizer said that talk of a walkout has been “brewing” at Riot for about half a year.

The layoffs were part of the company's recent realignment efforts. Razer recently cut about 30 positions, some from its mobile gaming division, representing 2% of its workforce. It also decided to shutter its online game store less than a year after its launch.” />
“Mobile gaming keeps growing at an incredible pace and at Razer, we are poised to be a leader in the segment. “With the strengths of Tencent and Razer combined, we are going to supercharge the mobile gaming industry.” We have been working with Tencent since 2008 and are excited to now enter into a collaboration with them to spearhead future innovation in the space,” said Min-Liang Tan, co-founder and CEO of Razer.
While the tech conglomerate has suffered recently thanks to stricter video game regulations in China, it managed to make nearly $1 billion a month in profits during fiscal 2018. Tencent is the publisher behind mobile hits like "PUBG Mobile" and "Arena of Valor." It also owns "League of Legends" developer Riot Games and has stakes in "Fortnite" developer Epic Games and "Clash of Clans" developer Supercell.
They will also work to optimize Tencent games for Razer's mobile game platforms and the Razer Cotex mobile game launcher. Other Razer software like the Chroma RGB lighting and THX Spatial Audio might find their way into Tencent mobile titles as well. The two companies are planning to collaborate in three specific areas: hardware, software, and services. Finally, the companies will explore additional monetization opportunities in mobile games, including integrating Razer services. Tencent will work closely with Razer to optimize its mobile games for Razer's hardware, including its smartphone and gaming controllers.
Gaming hardware and peripheral manufacturer Razer is partnering with Chinese technology giant Tencent to "bring the mobile gaming experience to the next level," it announced on Thursday.

This cameo of esports culture into the mainstream is the latest in a series of moves by Riot Games to introduce sports and entertainment fans to the excitement and drama that is professional "League of Legends." Recently, Netflix profiled LCS pro play in their series "7 Days Out," which follows teams during the week leading up to one of the league’s most competitive annual events. Prior to that, the Vox program "Explained," looked at the overall rise and professionalization of esports – specifically at "League of Legends."
Whalen Rozelle and Jarred Kennedy, the co-heads of Esports at Riot Games, and David ‘Phreak’ Turley, legendary commentator from the "League of Legends" North American league LCS, lent their expertise to the production to ensure the experience depicted in the episode was authentic to the players, fans and coaches who compete professionally in "League of Legends."
Esports has made it into the world of "The Simpsons."
Sunday's episode of America's longest-running sitcom series, titled "E My Sports," will see Bart Simpson begin to excel at video game competitions with Homer as his passionate coach. When Lisa attempts to bring her father back to earth, however, chaos ensues.
PT on Fox.” /> "The Simpsons" airs at 8 p.m.

"Many of us on the team grew up playing their games, and it’s incredible to think that some of their sons and daughters are now playing Hypixel." "It’s humbling and exciting to be learning from these veteran game developers and industry experts," Hypixel said.
Hypixel plans to launch "Hytale" on PC and Mac, but said it will explore the possibility of releasing on other platforms during development.” />
Hypixel said its "Minecraft" server will continue to be actively developed by its own dedicated team. It also said it's grateful to Mojang and Microsoft, "whose forward-thinking support for content creators from day one has allowed us to produce work that we’re proud of."
It also boasts a number of interesting features like community servers, minigames, modding tools, and the ability to watch movies together. "Hytale" is a sandbox RPG with procedurally generated environments and a "Minecraft"-inspired art style.
"Hytale's" similarity to "Minecraft" is no accident. Hypixel is the studio behind one of "Minecraft's" most popular player-made servers, which has reportedly hosted more than 14 million players and won four Guinness World Records, including "most popular independent server for a video game." The studio said the server's success allowed it to self-fund development of "Hytale," but it's also secured outside funding from investors like Riot Games and former Blizzard Entertainment executive Rob Pardo.
Hypixel Studios is creating a new game called "Hytale" with some help from "League of Legends" developer Riot Games, it announced in a blog post on Thursday.

Student teams will have support from publishers as well as the university itself with sanctioned events, staff, and resources as well as equipment to bring it all together. The Dean of USC Cinematic Arts, Elizabeth Daley, and Chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division Danny Bilson, revealed the ESU, which will be focused on developing clubs and teams that focus on individual video games that secure large followings, with a goal in mind of making gaming an integral part of student life.
17. The Conquest Event is a school spirit event that's held each year to celebrate the UAC and UCLA cross-town rivalry and is taking place ahead of the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins' football game on campus Saturday, Nov.
“We aspire for 'League of Legends' to be a global sport that lasts for generations, and we're thrilled to see our Alma Mater, a school right in our backyard, join us in making that mission a reality,” said Beck and Merrill in a statement.
USC Games announced the USC Esports Union (ESU), its first official collegiate esports program, during the annual USC Conquest Event.
USC is set to announce the school's first roster of "League of Legends" Trojans team members on Thursday, who are scheduled to compete against UCLA's Bruins in a live League Exhibition Match. The team will also compete in Riot Games' Spring 2019 competitive College League. There will be a special esports pavilion set up, with "League of Legends" set up in addition to other games, tournaments, prizes, cosplayers, and pro-esports players in attendance.” />
The initiative will also include a special curriculum including industry-sponsored design courses, as well as management, promotion, marketing, and other elements of the esports business. There will be summits held to promote diversity and talks with leaders in the gaming space, financial support for players, and scholarships planned for awarding players as well.
The next few months will find ESU supporting titles like "League of Legends," which it has chosen as its inaugural title, due to Riot Games founding members and USC alumni Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill's involvement.

"We've invested a ton into esports since we started hosting Worlds in 2011 and costs have increased dramatically since then as we've looked for ways to create more awesome local leagues (14 now) and international events (4), go to iconic venues (Madison Square Garden, Staples Center, Bird's Nest, etc.), and generally look for ways to continue to impress you all and make an esport you can be proud of," Riot said. "Now we're out of 'startup' mode in a sense for esports: instead of just making esports happen and be awesome, we also want to focus on making this a financially sustainable endeavor that can last decades or more."
The credit card company's multi-year deal with "LoL" developer Riot Games is the first of its kind, it said. The deal includes "LoL's" three annual major esports tournaments: the mid-season invitational, the world championship, and the all-star event.
"But we don't want to continue to be in startup mode — we're now a mature business and costs need to be more in line with revenue in the future: Now that we've built something awesome, we're going to start exercising more discipline around holding ourselves to financial constraints as revenue continues to pick up."” />
Mastercard's first live-event fan activations take place at the League of Legends World Championship this fall in South Korea. The two companies are now working on special in-game benefits for card holders, along with special ticketing programs. Additionally, it also wants to package "Priceless" access and "one-of-a-kind experiences, helping esports fans get closer to everything they love about 'League of Legends' esports events."
Mastercard is the first, exclusive global payment services partner for "League of Legends" esports events, it announced on Wednesday.
In a Reddit post last month, it said it spends over $100 million annually on esports worldwide. If revenues don't increase within the next three years, Riot's budget will need to decrease by some amount. But, Riot is thinking of cutting its esports budget. "League of Legends" first launched in 2009 and has 100 million players worldwide. The 2018 Mid-Season Invitational, which took place in June, had 19.8 million concurrent viewers at one point and 60 million unique viewers, according to LoL Esports. It also has one of the most robust esports scenes in the gaming industry.

Riot declined to confirm whether chief operating officer Scott Gelb, named in a Kotaku report about alleged toxic behavior at the company, is under investigation or on administrative leave, but the "League of Legend" creator did tell Variety that it "[has], and will, put Rioters on administrative leave when necessary."
I will say though that we have, and will, put Rioters on administrative leave when it’s necessary." "In every case these decisions are personal and highly confidential, so I can't discuss why a decision was made or even that a decision process existed for any case. "This decision is based on a number of factors, but every decision is unique and complex," the Riot representative said. To be clear, our top priority in every case is the well-being of all Rioters involved and maintaining the integrity of the investigation.
Riot told Variety that the decision to place an employee on administrative leave as part of an investigation varies.
Some current and former Riot Games employees say they're skeptical the company will truly hold itself accountable for a company culture many remains toxic and sexist.
"We will ensure that we have the right leaders in place to drive the change that we know Riot needs."” /> "This cultural evolution remains Riot’s first priority and we strongly agree that this change needs to start at the top and we hold that everyone accountable," Riot said.
"It’s the ethical thing to do, plus it’s the law." But, the company did say administrative leave is the first thing it considers when an investigation starts, although it's not a decision it makes lightly. "We’re not commenting on any individual at any level on personnel matters," a representative told Variety.
The committee's mandate is to oversee and review everything related to Riot's diversity and inclusivity initiatives and cultural transformation, along with the performance of Riot's senior management on these efforts. It's created a special committee comprised of two non-Riot directors and Youngme Moon, an internationally recognized business leader, professor, and expert on corporate governance. "We have systems in place to ensure we apply the same level of rigor to all investigations, regardless of the seniority of those involved," it said. Riot said it's working to eradicate the behaviors described in Kotaku's story, and it assures people that accountability starts at the top.
Sources told Kotaku that Gelb has a reputation at the company. The statement comes one day after Kotaku published a new report on alleged behavior at Riot involving Gelb. He's been known to allegedly fart on coworkers, tap male coworkers genitals, and sometimes hump colleagues for comedic effect.
Riot also recently hired former Uber executive Frances Frei to help navigate changes at the company. I share that ambition and am eager to help them navigate this process.” According to Frei, “Riot isn’t interested simply in fixing problems on the surface, they have an ambition to be an industry leader and to provide a roadmap for others to follow.

Though Street expresses his opinions on the matter, he notes that it "would be more meaningful to ask the women."
"Historically, Riot has desired that all our new hires be active game players, and ideally 'League' players," Street wrote. We are trying to explore new avenues for how we source potential applicants, and while I think it’s challenging to really be good at game development if you don’t love games, we think there are opportunities there to broaden the kind of folks we interview. "Like many games, 'League' skews heavily male, so we are starting with an already smaller pool for potential applicants.
"I am doing a lot of listening to make sure the women on my team and at Riot feel like we hear them, we really understand their point of view, and we understand what they want changed," Street stated.
Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street writes that some of the situations he has heard about since the story broke about the rampant sexism at Riot Games qualify as "horrible and inexcusable."
Marie noted many other issues in her post, and also brought up the discrimination in the form of generalizations made against women as players of "League of Legends." In one instance, Marie is told "that we shouldn’t put cosplayers on stage to play 'League' live, because they are mostly women, and therefore not very good at the game."
Street says that a primary concern is female employees feeling like they cannot contribute (or that if they do, their voices will not be heard) or be considered fairly for advancement.
A design director on "League of Legends" responded to concerns over Riot Games' harassment issues in his personal blog and tweeted from his Twitter account Wednesday.
Street further says that although employees have been fired for this type of harassment, there is typically no announcement about "why someone is being terminated, and that is particularly true if there is a victim involved that you want to protect." The result being that even though perpetrators may be punished, there may not be sufficient communication to the rest of the organization that this type of behavior isn't tolerated.
Industry-wide, if not culturally-wide, these issues are not easy to fix, but they are important to fix, and that gives me hope that we won’t give up.” /> It has been a problem everywhere I have worked, and sadly Riot is not immune either. Riot talks a lot more about culture than anywhere I have worked, so perhaps that makes it doubly disappointing that we haven’t been able to deliver. "Look, this is an industry (gaming specifically, but tech at large) that has a pretty terrible track record for women and minorities.
This was a repeated sentiment about women expressed in the original story that broke, as Riot emphasizes ability to play "League of Legends" as a high priority when considering job applicants as well. Street also brings this point up in his post.
In her post, Marie notes the various inappropriate questions she was asked, as well as jokes about rape and other concerns that eventually led her to leave her position. Meagan Marie, a current senior community manager with Crystal Dynamics and former Riot employee posted her experience on her blog, noting that she resigned after six months with the company.
there are many people who weren’t subject to sexist behavior and harassment," Marie wrote. "That being said, from my own experiences and that of many others speaking out this week, an unacceptable number of people – primarily, but not exclusively women – have been subject to inappropriate behavior at Riot for years. "The large majority of Riot employees I’ve met have been lovely, and … It is systemic to the company’s culture and needs to be addressed as such."
The final straw for Marie was when she was called sexist for saying she didn't want to share a hotel room with an unknown male employee, which came up because of a typo in an email in which it appeared Marie was being asked to do such.

“League of Legends” is a massively popular game worldwide, with huge followings in some countries, including South Korea. The MOBA is currently the second most watched and third most streamed title on the video game streaming platform Twitch, according to TwitchStats.
"He was being playful around the release of this world map (https://map.leagueoflegends.com/en_US) – and wants to encourage our players to think of what Riot's long-term goals could look like," Justin Kranzl, Riot Games' North America communications director, told Variety.
Earlier this week Riot co-founder Marc Merrill sparked discussion around the possibility of the developer creating a "League of Legends" massively multiplayer online game when he tweeted a question about the idea.
The tweeted question came after the developer released an interactive map based on the game's growing lore.
The single tweet kicked off discussion in the official “League of Legends” subreddit where players there discussed the possibilities of a "LoL" MMO and whether they thought it could be successful.
While the company hasn't created any spin-offs for the popular game, it has put a lot of work recently into breathing more life into the lore behind the game through video shorts and comics. Some of that new material has reinvented characters or given them a more robust backstory.” />
But the tweet, which read simply "Should we build a MMO? Yay or nay?" wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

Riot Games stated in the original lawsuit that Moonton had likely earned hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars from the games which clearly copied "League of Legends."
Riot Games did not immediately respond to Variety's request for comment.” />
However, the case was dismissed at the behest of the court as it could be heard more conveniently in China. Riot Games had originally filed the lawsuit in California in 2017 against Shanghai Moonton Technology Co.
 
In the lawsuit, Riot Games shared several images comparing their property, "League of Legends" to Moonton's "Mobile Legends." Other than the title, there were other clear indications that more than just coincidental similarities had occurred, including far too similar  "Some of the champions, their descriptions, their abilities, ability descriptions, the map, and other assets were strikingly similar," according to Dot Esports' report.
Sources have also told Dot Esports that the MOBA "King of Glory's" creators may partner with Riot and Tencent to sue Moonton for copyright infringement of their title, as well.
The awarded amount of about $2.9 million USD is coming at the loss of Moonton Technology's CEO, Xu Zhenhua over the game "Mobile Legends."
The lawsuit also included Moonton's "Magic Rush: Heroes," which had far too similar playable characters.
Tencent Holdings, the parent company of Riot Games, was awarded 19.4 million yuan in its lawsuit against Moonton Technology, according to a report from Dot Esports.
Tencent, based in Shenzhen, filed a separate lawsuit against Xu Zhenhua, according to a court document obtained by  Dot Esports. The original penalty was for the CEO to pay about $388,000 USD, before the court deemed this amount insufficient.