The last month or so has seen reports emerging about sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour, and misconduct all around in various studios and corners of the games industry, with allegations against many of Ubisoft’s top executives having been highlighted by many. Now, a new report by The Guardian brings to light issues at British studio Rocksteady – the developers of the Batman: Arkham trilogy and the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
According to the report, in November of 2018, 10 of the 16 female employees employed at Rocksteady co-signed a letter to the studio’s management in which they talked about sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour, mentioning “slurs regarding the transgendered community”, “discussing a woman in a derogatory or sexual manner with other colleagues”, and “unwanted advances, leering at parts of a woman’s body, and inappropriate comments in the office.”
The report goes on to state that following the letter, Rocksteady’s response as to hold a single hour-long seminar, and the studio’s inaction over these complaints has led to many of the staff who signed the aforementioned letter to leave Rocksteady. One of the letter’s co-signatories shared the letter with The Guardian under conditions of anonymity.
She said: “I have heard everything from groping claims to incidents involving [senior staff], all of whom are men. Yet the only thing we had as a result was a company-wide seminar that lasted an hour. Everyone who attended was asked to sign a statement confirming that they’d received the training. It felt that it was a just way for them to cover their arses.”
She also remarks that Rocksteady’s dismissive attitude towards women in general has bled into the company’s output of games and the way that represents women as well, citing examples such as the designs of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in the Arkham series.
“Rocksteady doesn’t have the best reputation for representing women,” she says. “Sometimes you could see the surprise on their face when you said that’s not how women dress.”
Rocksteady have also responded, acknowledging the letter’s existence, and saying that it has taken steps to ensure that a culture of inclusivity and diversity is promoted at the studio.
“From day one at Rocksteady Studios, we set out to create a place where people are looked after, a place fundamentally built on respect and inclusion,” a Rocksteady spokesperson said. “In 2018 we received a letter from some of our female employees expressing concerns they had at that time, and we immediately took firm measures to address the matters that were raised. Over the subsequent two years we have carefully listened to and learned from our employees, working to ensure every person on the team feels supported. In 2020 we are more passionate than ever to continue to develop our inclusive culture, and we are determined to stand up for all of our staff.”
In addition, Rocksteady reportedly also held a meeting following being contacted by The Guardian regarding the letter in which they discussed the letter for the first time, and promised initiatives to prevent further similar issues.
We will keep you updated as this situation develops, so stay tuned.