Riot Games employees stage walkout over forced arbitration

Kotaku reports that employees at League of Legends developer Riot Games are preparing for a walkout this afternoon to protest the company's practice of forcing employee lawsuits into private arbitration, as well as what they consider an insufficient response to the problems which led to those lawsuits. The lawsuits came in the wake of last year's in-depth Kotaku report which exposed pervasive sexism at the studio.

Not all employees are going to take part in the walkout: One organizer told the site that they expect roughly 100 employees will go, a small fraction of the studio's estimated 2,500 employees worldwide. But it's still a significant number, and could encourage more employees (and those at other studios) to take part in future actions if their complaints go unresolved.

While not the first organized walkout at a major studio—there was a strike at Eugen last year, and Crytek developers walked out in 2014 to protest unpaid wages—the Riot walkout is one of very few high-profile cases of game industry employees taking direct action to be heard.

A Riot rep said that the studio will do its best to accommodate the walkout, apparently scheduled from 2-4 pm local time, and "will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not)." But it also reaffirmed that it will not change its policies "while in active litigation." 

"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," the rep said. "We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution." 

Kotaku will be reporting from the scene of the walkout, so follow along there for updates as it happens.

Update: Upcomer has posted a trio of photos taken at the walkout on Twitter.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.