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Riot Games, League Of Legends, And Their Fans Need To Do Better

After Daniel Klein and Mattias Lehman's outing at Riot Games earlier this week, are game devs setting a dangerous precedent with reactionary firings?

Earlier this week Riot employees Daniel Z. Klein and Mattias Lehman were fired for speaking out about the negative reaction some League of Legends fans had surrounding a PAX Panel that had a portion where only Women and Non-Binary folk were welcome.  Room 613 offered Resume Critiques & Portfolio reviews as well as some insightful discussion surrounding Game production and the interplay between Design and Producer roles in the industry. 

With Riot Games holding an event that caters to a specific demographic, given the timing you could say this was used as an opportunity to generate positive PR.   After the Kotaku exposé brought about reports of a disgusting sexist culture in which male employees shared disgusting emails about their female co-workers and interviewers that often doubted woman candidates passion for gaming.

While that’s certainly a factor in Riot holding this panel, it’s also important for a company of this size to hold a networking event that caters to an underserved demographic.  Men hold 74% of the game industry’s jobs, but are only 55% of the consumer base who call themselves “gamers”.  While not every female gamer wants to work in the game industry, there is a large amount who do.  So why don’t we have events that cater to that specific group? 

If men want to have these same services available there are a ton of other game industry conferences they can attend that offer them. Here is a handy list.  You will find events located in almost every region of the US and European countries that are open to everyone.  This one event that happened for one day at a FAN CONVENTION, not a networking conference, like PAX isn’t going to hurt your chances at becoming a game developer. 

This whole fiasco is very reminiscent of the ArenaNet situation that happened only two months ago in which Guild Wars 2’s Narrative Designer Jessica Price was outed after she clapped back at a YouTuber who acted like they knew how to even speak to the level of expertise Price has in her field.  She and one of her co-workers Peter Fries were fired over remarks made about the situation. 

Instead of having some kind of discussion about social media messaging and policy, these two were fired by their company because some very vocal fans on Reddit were mad they were put in their place.  Riot has done the same with Klein and Lehman.

While Riot did have a social media policy to not talk about the controversy, does that warrant these two being fired?  Players and Developers can disagree without anyone having to lose their jobs so long as the critiques don’t go too far.  Hideki Kamiya over at Platinum Games has a legendary Twitter feed where he makes fun of idiots ALL THE TIME and absolutely nothing happens to him at Platinum for this. 

Riot’s toothless reaction by selling out their employees for the approval of a vocal minority is not the way to resolve these situations.  If you are a supervisor you discuss with your team about a mistake and teach them how to prevent making that same one in the future.  Firing them to prevent the displeasure of your fans sets a dangerous precedent that gives these trolls power that you don’t want them to have. 

See this Reddit post from someone on r/GuildWars2 subreddit that celebrated Price and Fries' firing:

archived 6 Jul 2018 16:12:46 UTC

Do you really want this kind of player dictate what your company culture should be? While you're here, check out Nadeshot's opinion on 100 Thieves being at Worlds 2018.

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