Over the past couple of years, there has been a significant surge in the number of insiders who have talked about how serious sexual harassment and toxic behavior can be in the gaming industry. Companies like Activision Blizzard have been roundly criticized for incredibly audacious cases of employee abuse, while others like Nintendo have simply gone unnoticed and gone unpunished.
While this may have led some members of the gaming community to believe that some of Nintendo’s own studios did not have such problems, it seems that this was not so far from the truth. Kotaku’s latest interview with numerous former female employees of Nintendo of America (NoA) revealed that they have been subjected to unacceptable sexual behavior, workplace inequality and extensive nepotism throughout their careers at the American branch of Nintendo.
link: Nintendo Has Some Bad News for Fans Waiting for the Switch Pro Console
According to Kotaku interviews with ten separate sources who have worked at Nintendo at some point over the past decade, the company behaves like a “dorm.” The interview is mainly devoted to NoA’s human resources company, Aerotek, where women were paid significantly less than men and they simply did not have the opportunity to get promoted, which is similar to many other industry reports on toxic situations in the workplace. “I felt like I was treated with a sense of ‘otherness,'” one of the sources explained, while another recalled a case where a male employee posted extremely inappropriate Pokemon—related materials in a company chat that didn’t seem to have been addressed.
Nintendo’s latest financial reports clearly show that the company has enjoyed tremendous success with the Switch console, but that success may have been partially achieved in a very toxic work environment. Kotaku sources recall situations when full—time Nintendo employees — the so-called “red badges” – used their status in the workplace to avoid the consequences of their inappropriate behavior. This included, among other things, unwanted sexual harassment and threatening behavior. And since Aerotek had very few full-time female employees who could protect the interests of other women, there was no one to turn to for help.
Another notable example comes from Hannah, who was in an open lesbian relationship while working at Nintendo of America. Her much older backup coordinator said her sexual orientation was “pretty sad.” Hannah also had to face unwanted advances from her heterosexual colleagues, who said she was “just pretending to be touchy,” which is in stark contrast to Nintendo’s official stance on same-sex relationships.
The Kotaku interview details how and why these harassment cases occur, which indeed include cases of literal harassment and dangerous behavior. Although Nintendo has previously issued a statement condemning harassment in the workplace, sources explain that its American branch has failed to provide them with a safe working environment with equal opportunities. Given these allegations, it may also be worth remembering that Nintendo of America has also been accused of destroying unions, which further casts doubt on the umbrella company’s attempts to maintain the image of the family business.