Ex-Blizzard Employee Details His Terrible Time with the Company

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,504
Finland
It kind of takes a shitty boss to make you realize that even the most “fun” companies really don’t have their employee’s backs. I had a similar situation but luckily my boss retired before doing major damage: could have easily gone to HR but was told by peers that someone else had tried that in the past and my boss came right back at him with some bullshit story about using profanity in the workplace and he just quit rather than fight her and HR.
Yeah and to my understanding Blizzard has been excellent place to work by most accounts, glassdoor reviews etc. Of course it doesn't mean there wouldn't be rotten inviduals employed there too.
 

empty feat

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,227
England
Man, that was a harrowing read. I hope Jules and Bri can get back on their feet after this. What an awful failing of every person he reached out to, for no one to have his back or even spot the signs of his declining health. People can be so cold.
 

Scuffed

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,297
Considering he's a person of color (well, according to USA's standards) you'd think Resetera would be up in arms instead of letting a general indifference fall on this.
There is a segment that believe that when men get harassed at work that they "had it coming" because men have been so horrible to women in the work place for so long that it's about time they suffer too. This is reinforced for these people because the harasser was a woman. This of course is a terrible way of thinking but I have been reading such sentiments on reddit in regards to this story.

I don't know how widespread it is of course but there does tend to be less sympathy in general for male victims. I get it because there is a lot of anger from the very real misogyny that exists in the workplace but I think matters like this should be analyzed on a case by case basis especially with such a detailed telling of what happened to this poor dude at Blizzard.
 

Trojita

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,720
Gemma Barreda-Mirkovic sounds like a fucking bully.

at first it felt like I would be able to make a recovery.
I would be mistaken as Kim’s demeanor towards me went from “you’re indispensable” and look after Gizmo, her puppy and my companion during most days while I was alone at my bullpen, to borderline hostile. During a Hearthstone meeting, boasting about 2016’s successes, which I was “instrumental” I was wholly omitted from the team’s accomplishments. And I’ll never forget her face, that death stare, and my omission of what Hearthstone accomplished even though I was “the ops guy”. Instead, the credit went to everyone, and the praise went to others, including promotions to Drew and Gemma.
Wow.

After the meeting I asked Ohm, another manager in the Esports Team, to join me for a smoke. I would tell him what happened and he advised me to reach out to Paul Gemmell, HR Manager, and the lighthouse I needed to find some sense of direction after now 7 months of riding storms.

I confided in Paul everything that happened that day, and, foolishly, not telling him about my brushes with her discrimination
Duuuuuuuuuuuude
 

Neilg

Member
Nov 16, 2017
279
Gemma Barreda-Mirkovic sounds like a fucking bully.
That's essentially what this comes down to. she was a bully and nobody at the company gave a shit. top heavy and everyone overworked unwilling to rock the boat by going out of their way to help someone.
this story is not at all unique to the world of game development, it happens regularly in other industries. It's a shitty management problem, but good management is more rare than you think even in union jobs.
when you have a thousand employees and teams under teams under teams, it takes a very skilled office manager regularly checking in with individuals to catch this kind of shit.

I hope the guy is able to move on and not be too affected by this in the future.
 
Dec 4, 2018
1,109
I have a technical position inside a startup, and usually don't receive many congratulations for my job, they mostly go to those who actually talk to users and partners - and I also can have mood swings depending on how much I'm burned out. But the environment is good inside the company.

I cannot imagine how broken I would be if they deleted my achievements and acted like I didn't exist.
 
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Bansai

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,204
Geez... that was pretty brutal to read.

I hope the guy recovers mentally. I wonder if blizzard is gonna do anything about the the bully, I guess they won't since the story didn't really get that much traction, for shame.
 

spman2099

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,647
Geez... that was pretty brutal to read.

I hope the guy recovers mentally. I wonder if blizzard is gonna do anything about the the bully, I guess they won't since the story didn't really get that much traction, for shame.
Unfortunately, unless someone breaks the story in a big way, it makes more sense to just let it die out quietly. None of the big dogs seem interested in it. Kotaku hasn't said a word, and this is really their kind of story.

This whole situation reminds me of the handful of Riot problems that have emerged in the last year or so. It is distressing how all of these stories seemed to receive no traction.
 

Stewieboii

Member
Mar 10, 2018
1,085
Scotland
Depression and workplace bullying ain't no joke. Working somewhere you are bullied is truly a nightmare, feels like you are walking into a furnace every day.
 

KarmaCow

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,614
I'm glad that he had the ability to voice his story after bottling it up and having it silenced for so long. Hopefully Blizzard actually does something, he names names and has a trail with HR.
 

JinnAxel

Member
Oct 30, 2017
175
I don't know why people are saying media are waiting to post the story while they fact check when a week ago people were saying media were right to post the Ellie Overwatch story despite no factual evidence to the person being real and spun it as a harassment story.

Here we have a detailed telling of a victim's experience and not a word from the usual outlets that cover stories like this.

Meanwhile people were are nitpicking phrasing in a lengthy post to insinuate sexism and doubting claims due to mental illness.
 

dishonestjest

Member
Oct 27, 2017
986
I don't know why people are saying media are waiting to post the story while they fact check when a week ago people were saying media were right to post the Ellie Overwatch story despite no factual evidence to the person being real and spun it as a harassment story.

Here we have a detailed telling of a victim's experience and not a word from the usual outlets that cover stories like this.

Meanwhile people were are nitpicking phrasing in a lengthy post to insinuate sexism and doubting claims due to mental illness.
Why do you think that is?
 
Dec 4, 2018
1,109
This is embarrassing. Someone mentioned this was a fresh thread as an excuse for it being so very little active. It's day 4 and we're still here waiting for someone to actually go ask Blizzard hard questions instead of taking in their PR answer.
 

dishonestjest

Member
Oct 27, 2017
986
This is embarrassing. Someone mentioned this was a fresh thread as an excuse for it being so very little active. It's day 4 and we're still here waiting for someone to actually go ask Blizzard hard questions instead of taking in their PR answer.
This has been the unfortunate best example of this dichotomy wherein the victim doesn't 'fit the archetype' and Blizzard is a company that everyone loves. Even in this very thread we've got excellent contributions from people who decided to completely ignore the abuse but wanted to put their 2 cents in: 'well I've heard great things about working at Blizzard' and 'why is he saying 'my Mrs.' - that's possessive."

beyond embarrassing.
 

Pancoar

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
656
Rockstar crunch gets what? Multiple threads? Hundreds of pages? The Guild Wars 2 firings had threads that went on forever.

But a man gets bullied and harassed to the point of actually contemplating suicide? Measuring rope planning to hang himself, and almost crashing head-on into a semi?

Nah man, we get people worrying about "oh he shouldn't have named his abuser, especially the women!! Oh no what about their well-being? :(" To thinking he's sexist or having "alarm bells ringing" because of something as innocuous as saying "my Mrs.". Even people making blanket statements about not believing what he says just because he is a man. This would be a graveyard if the gender roles were reversed.

I only found about the story today, because it was mentioned in the GDQ thread, and apparently this is already a few days old and no big outlet has picked up on it is telling. I really feel for him and hope he never has to deal with something like that again. Sad that the disgusting people who put him through this will probably face absolutely no repercussions.
 

Siresly

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,002
Games media needs to do their thing and put pressure on Blizzard.

Blizzard probably won't do anything for this guy unless he can sue, and win.
Sounds like that avenue's unavailable?
During December 2017 I reached out to the EEOC, hoping to get a resolution should Blizzard fail, and that’s when I realized of the statute of limitations regarding my racial discrimination and abuse. I didn’t have much to go by and my case would be dismissed . . .
http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqp7gi
But regardless, this situation certainly demands Blizzard committing to seriously looking into it and addressing what led to such an extreme failure on the company's behalf. His experience sounds beyond terrible and no one should have to go through that.
 

Absolute

Member
Nov 6, 2017
622
Games media needs to do their thing and put pressure on Blizzard.

Blizzard probably won't do anything for this guy unless he can sue, and win.
Sounds like that avenue's unavailable?

But regardless, this situation certainly demands Blizzard committing to seriously looking into it and addressing what led to such an extreme failure on the company's behalf. His experience sounds beyond terrible and no one should have to go through that.
It is situations like this when the courts are not an avenue a person can take that journalists are most needed. Not to crucify Blizzard but to find out the truth and let people know.
 

FF Seraphim

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,933
Tokyo
Unfortunately, unless someone breaks the story in a big way, it makes more sense to just let it die out quietly. None of the big dogs seem interested in it. Kotaku hasn't said a word, and this is really their kind of story.



This whole situation reminds me of the handful of Riot problems that have emerged in the last year or so. It is distressing how all of these stories seemed to receive no traction.
I am also surprised Kotaku hasn't posted anything about this. Sure they posted about Gearbox and Randy's ongoing spat with their ex-lawyer. However, one would think this would be right up their alley? Is it just the lack of ability to investigate if the claims are true? It makes no sense.
 
Dec 4, 2018
1,109
I am also surprised Kotaku hasn't posted anything about this. Sure they posted about Gearbox and Randy's ongoing spat with their ex-lawyer. However, one would think this would be right up their alley? Is it just the lack of ability to investigate if the claims are true? It makes no sense.
I literally went and joked about it - the silence surrounding this situation - tagging people around including their news guy in its thread where people was going crazy for its book. Nothing.
 

Dekuman

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,934
Yeah. This doesn't look good and plays into alt right narrative when kotaku wont even report on it given the profile and coverage they gave to other industry employees that faced harassment.
 

Trojita

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,720
Seems Jules M.C. made another statement


Official Statement:
I would like to start off by thanking the overwhelmingly positive support we (Bri and I) have received from our beloved community of gamers. As someone who received an NES when they were 4 years old back in 1989, I always loved being a gamer, even when it wasn’t popular and part of an estranged group of people in society. But that’s what made gamers and gaming so special, that we are all part of a club—unknowingly—of people that were on the fringes of society. While this may have change in recent memory, the core, the DNA of gaming was always in the outcasts that went on to create worlds to escape the realities of life. To my fellow community members, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts… this is what makes our group so special and it is truly uplifting to see that we can come together in solidarity even if we stand on opposite ends of life matters—when it comes down to gaming, we can all agree on one thing: making great games for gamers and not shareholders.
The one alarming thing from me coming forward is that I’m not alone! The outpour of support was overshadowed by people coming forward and sharing their stories of systemic abuse, an HR system that failed, and the subsequent coverups and silencing that took place in many of these individuals’ cases.
The stories shared—their stories to tell whether it’s anonymously or by putting their names—shed light on a bigger issue: abuse and harassment can happen to cis white males or members of the dominant group in America. Not only, did people share details of discrimination that would fall under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the subsequent HR failures regarding the victim being retaliated against—moved out of the team or put on leave—but the attacker retaining their position of power within their organization.
What the stories of many like me uncovered is that HR—they are not there for you but the entity—was responsible for not taking the allegations seriously, or not punishing the abusers (attackers) due to their position of power within the organization; whether, the attacker was a very senior member of the organization—tenure or position—and, or the bias that some HR personnel had…
To victims of EEOC violations, immediately file an EEOC case, document everything, print (make copies) of everything, and explore outside options before signing anything.
To shareholders reading this, in order to avoid major class action lawsuits, here’s some advice:
• Abolish mandatory arbitration agreements—if the entity you are investing in has absolutely nothing to hide (systemic sexual abuse, pay disparities, discrimination) then this isn’t necessary. In fact, companies that are now instituting these measures are probably doing so to prevent the truth from coming out publicly.
o If this cannot happen on an organization level, this should be passed as state, but preferably federal law so that employees are protected (similar to non-compete clauses that are illegal in California). Unless you’re a multimillionaire and investor this does in fact impact you, the common citizen that needs a 9-5:00 job to survive.
• Institute an independent HR investigative team—contracted externally—to investigate EEOC matters since HR can, and will, become biased towards members of an organization. This is especially true in organizations where members have 15+ years of tenure, including founders.
• The investigative team, like a class action lawsuit shareholders v. entity, would report to an independent body so that nobody—including executives who founded and/or have long tenure—can be immune to investigation and appropriate action.
• Rotate HR personnel in and out of teams or sub-teams every 18-24 months at most so that bias doesn’t root itself in people’s minds; after all, they are people and will become biased with time if they interact with individuals daily.
• Executives (directors and above) from teams should have little to no say in HR matters, especially those that are embedded in departments, so that HR personnel don’t feel intimated or bullied into whatever team leadership agenda.
o It’s easy for a director to exert power over and HR coordinator whether it’s through tenure, position, and others… this happens despite what HR people say publicly.
• And finally, and most importantly, don’t punish the people that come forward but those responsible and the leadership that fails.
When people from around the globe reached out sharing similar stories of constant anxiety—not revolving around the crunch that we’ve all experienced—but from a toxic work environment, their battle with depression, and their planning including attempted suicides it broke my heart.
It broke my heart because it happened to too many, it happened to minorities, even cis white males, and many of them have either left the industry indefinitely while some entirely.
What this has shed light on is that the current state of gaming will only get worse as people reconsider this industry and pursue other entertainment mediums… talent is running away from the industry we all love, and that talent will not come back.
What you and I may see, some of you will say that this is already happening, is a creative talent vacuum that no number of financial gurus, special business division whatever, or some number cruncher can fill. The magic in gaming that we have fallen in love with is not some penny-pinching scheme, but how your game will appeal to audiences and how your creative talent (engineers are extremely creative in making our games run despite how crazy art and design can get) abandons the community and leaves a vacuum that no amount of AOP, estimating, and finagling will fix.
This talent comes from all walks of life, some of them fall under the EEOC categories, and when they don’t feel safe doing it in the industry they love, then they’ll be welcomed by others: television, film, tech, and now independent game developers since it’s cheaper to make a successful game than a tv show or film… just remember the talent vacuum in other entertainment industries when they went through their own soul searching.
Or even worse, they may leave the industry entirely and go to tech firms and other ventures where they may not be doing what they’re truly passionate about but are treated with dignity and respect. Where they may have a work-life balance, and where they may feel safe being in their own skin and by doing great work; instead of playing the nepotism musical chair game that is becoming commonplace.
To all the people suffering in silence, now’s your time to come forward, and change our industry. Not just for us, but for all the future generations of gamers that want to create the next big game regardless of their skin color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and so on because they may have the next big thing but we may never play it because they opted not to pursue the gaming industry as a career.
This should be our wake-up call, the gates have been breached, and now’s the time to escape the prison we made for ourselves by changing our industry for the better.
And to all my fellow gamers, again, thank you. Words cannot describe the support we have received and my sincerest apologies for the radio silence but I had a mental relapse, living with constant anxiety since I published my twitlonger, and the subsequent panic attacks have forced me to retreat so that I can recover to fight another day.
Going forward, I invite victims to come forward—even if it’s anonymously—to at least table conversations to improve our industry; after all, it isn’t in the best state as it stands and it’s clear that it is in dire need of change.
If you, or anyone you know, is going through anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts seek immediate attention. You are not alone, and you’ll never walk alone.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. is 1-800-273-8255 (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/), and a list of Services can be found https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines
To the men and women who weren’t afraid of breaking the news: les estoy eternamente agradecido. When I reached out to writers, news sites, and members of the press in 2018 I received no responses, copy pastes, or my story simply fell on deaf ears. To HeelvsBabyface, theQuartering, and Accolonn thank you for reaching out with your questions and getting the truth out there so early. And to all the members of the press who covered and investigated this, thank you. Without journalists and writers with conviction who’ll cover this without bias we would not read or hear the truth… we need more of you, and you all did a fine job helping us bring forward positive change.
And to my community, after all I’m a gamer too, thank you. The outpour of support, the thoughts, and words brought me out from the pit of despair that would’ve otherwise swallowed me whole once more… I was living in fear but you quickly made realize that it was the right thing to do.
Hopefully we can save gaming.
Sincerely,
Julian Murillo-Cuellar

P.s.
Below are common questions I have received from writers, members of the press, and my community with my answers. If you publish this, publish the whole text, and not excerpts since I have seen misquotes or misinterpretations.
Will you be taking legal action? No. I will be focusing on my recovery since I’m 60-70% back but I realized I can easily relapse. Additionally, when I reached out to attorneys in 2017 and 2018—I DID NOT file a lawsuit despite what some YouTubers or web presences claim—it was in an effort to try and retain my job or find the means to pay for my medical bills since by August of 2017 I had used approximately $1300 of copay (out of pocket costs would’ve been in the tens of thousands) for medical treatment.
Will I join a class action lawsuit? Yes, but I would not be leading it. However, I would NOT take any money (winnings) if the lawsuit were to be successful because this has NEVER been about money. In fact, if I were to receive ANY money from this, I would turn it away or donate (I would post and request my donation be public) all money. To Bri and me this would be the equivalent of accepting blood money and I don’t need that in my life even with school loans and debt burden. I always have and always will state: I welcome a polygraph—I told this to my HR team and friends—and will welcome a polygraph now and always!
Will you start a group or a movement? No. There are currently mental health and other support groups but due to my deteriorated mental health I would not be apt to lead and I’ll be the first to recognize this. I will join https://www.youarerad.org/ if they’ll have me OFC, and any other groups that support mental health, inclusion, and any other initiatives that will make our industry safe and better for future generations.
Will I be quitting the gaming industry? Perhaps… I don’t know, but some of the best work I did was always community first, and like I told my Hearthstone Tournament Organizers shortly before my leave in Feb 2017, the only joy I got towards the end was the community. The community kept me afloat, at times sane, because they appreciated the work and effort that went into the most community-centric esport—anyone could come up the ranks, compete, win, and make it into the seasonal finals—the world has ever seen. I was proud to award thousands of points to winners and would be seasonal contenders because those that grinded were rewarded. And ultimately, seeing the joy that my work brought to so many was a phenomenal achievement. If I did anything, it’d be because I believed in it, and for the community first, second, third, fourth… after all, I want a game I’m proud to boot up—exclaiming I worked on that!—and that the majority of the community loves and respects. Always gaming community first!!!
Why didn’t I leave the team? I don’t believe I should’ve been the one to leave, but I was actively applying and interviewing for positions both internally and externally. Ultimately, no job offers came, and I had no choice but to stay since my health deteriorated to the point that I needed medical insurance to cover the medical issues I developed at work… I finally left when people took a chance with me only to discover that I wasn’t in the mental headspace and that my experience had made me despise esports…the very thing I had so passionately and fervently worked on for several years and so I left amicably and on my own accord.
Why didn’t you reach out to executives? I did. I was told by one (Jesse Meschuk) to reach out to my designated HR lead. I had to book my own meeting with my director, Kim Phan, at the time to try and reason me moving to another team at esports but I was told I had to apply to the spot despite what I had gone through. I was switched after I returned from my leave and it was because thankfully Paul was there to help and push my switch.
Will you be answering anymore questions? No. Unless this is in relation to a class action lawsuit, I will not be answering anymore questions. I effectively summarized what happened. Again, if there is a polygraph line of questioning, I would happily answer questions relating to what happened to me, now and always.
Will you be doing any interviews regarding this? Depends for what purposes. If it’s to improve the industry, yes, but nothing I perceive as “peddling my story” because I want the rest of those that remain in the shadows to step forward and share theirs. This is the story of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and while dozens have reached out to me, I’m the only voice to come forth and not representative of the many who have suffered and continue to suffer in silence.