×

Two Riot Employees Leave After Defending Women-Only PAX West Event

Two longtime Riot Games employees have left the company under “hazy” circumstances, Kotaku reports.

Seven current and former Rioters reached out to Kotaku on Friday and said they believe systems designer Daniel Klein and communications associate Mattias Lehman were fired because of their public response to a recent controversy surrounding a PAX West event. Riot hosted a number of sessions during the convention to support women and non-binary people interested in professional game development. It offered 1-on-1 resume feedback and presentations on art design, narrative writing, production, and more.

The event was part of Riot’s plans to rehabilitate a workplace culture many current and former employees say is sexist and misogynistic. But, it sparked outrage on the “League of Legends” subReddit, with some fans calling the event “sexist” because it excluded men. Riot told employees not to publicly engage with the controversy, sources tell Kotaku, but Klein and Lehman apparently waded in anyway. Klein called a Reddit thread about the controversy a “toxic landfill” and explained that “sexism against men” makes no sense because “men have the power.”

“Men are RIDICULOUSLY over-represented in gaming; they’re listened to when women are ignored, promoted when women are passed over, lauded for speaking out when women are being called ‘difficult to work with,'” he said.

Lehman, meanwhile, came to Klein’s defense on social media. “Being an ally means listening to, learning from, and standing up with marginalized people. @danielzklein has done that in the years I’ve known and worked with him,” he said. “It’s telling when people spend more time tone policing him than calling out those harassing and threatening him.”

Klein and Lehman’s departures are similar to an incident in July involving two ArenaNet employees. Writer Jessica Price was reportedly fired from that company after engaging in a public argument on Twitter with a YouTuber. Fellow writer Peter Fries was allegedly fired for coming to her defense. At the time, ArenaNet co-founder and president Mike O’Brien said the pair “failed to uphold our standards of communicating with players.”

“Their attacks on the community were unacceptable,” he said.

Variety contacted Riot about Klein and Lehman’s departures. It provided the following statement:

“These departures are independent from our efforts to evolve our culture. Our culture remains our top priority, and we remain committed to taking the steps that we need to become a leader in Diversity & Inclusion. We will always encourage Rioters to share their perspectives, and we fully support efforts by Rioters to further our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. We are committed to making real, positive change in Riot’s culture and internal advocates are a crucial part of making that happen. Beyond that, we can confirm that these individuals are no longer with Riot Games, but we cannot provide further details on personnel issues.”

More Gaming

  • Frank Pearce - Blizzard Entertainment

    Blizzard Co-Founder Frank Pearce Exits After 28 Years

    Frank Pearce, one of the three co-founders of game developer Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company. The announcement of Pearce’s exit comes less than a year after president Michael Morhaime, another Blizzard co-founder, left the company. J. Allen Brack, executive producer of “World of Warcraft,” took over the position as president of Blizzard. “The time [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

  • Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo Releases Updated Switch With Better Battery

    Nintendo just refreshed its wildly successful Switch game console, but the company isn’t giving existing Switch owners many reasons to upgrade: The renewed game console comes with a better battery that guarantees up to 9 hours of game play, while otherwise sticking with the same design and features of the original Switch. The new model [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    U.S. Consumers to Spend $26 Billion on Music, Video Subscriptions This Year

    U.S. consumers are expected to spend a combined $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, according to new estimates from the Consumer Technology Association. That’s up from $20.4 billion in 2018, and nearly twice the amount spent on such services in 2017. Propelled by the continued success of Apple Music and Spotify, [...]

  • Gears 5 - Xbox Game Studios

    'Gears 5' Will Exclude Smoking Depictions After Concerns Raised by Youth Anti-Tobacco Org (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Gears 5,” the forthcoming installment in the “Gears of Wars” third-person shooter game franchise, will be a smoke-free establishment. The game, set for Sept. 10 release, comes from Xbox Game Studios and game developer The Coalition. The decision to remove all smoking references from “Gears 5” came after not-for-profit anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative approached Turner, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content