SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The maker of popular video games “World Of Warcraft,” “Call Of Duty” and “Candy Crush” is in a crisis. Hundreds of workers at the company known as Activision Blizzard walked off their jobs this week. This followed a lawsuit from California regulators that allege the company’s male employees had mistreated their female colleagues for years, and leadership looked the other way. NPR’s Bobby Allyn joins us. Bobby, thanks so much for being with us.
BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: You got it, Scott.
SIMON: Tell us more about this lawsuit, if you could, please.
ALLYN: Yeah. So California regulators say inside this Southern California company is just a really toxic work environment. The suit describes so-called frat-boy workplace culture where men would regularly make sexual comments about women. They held these so-called cube crawls where men would drink copious amounts of alcohol and grope female employees. And on top of all of these unsettling allegations, Scott, you know, California officials say women were just paid less. And they were denied promotions over their male colleagues. I spoke to an engineer at Blizzard, Valentine Powell, about this.
VALENTINE POWELL: At least at this point, 10 women that I valued and respected and saw as mentors and loved and cherished at this company have left because they don’t believe it would get better. And I don’t blame them.
ALLYN: And that’s why Powell is one of the hundreds who walked off the job this week.
SIMON: What are they demanding?
ALLYN: Yeah. They’re demanding changes to the culture and pay inequities. You know, this company is 80% male. And workers have said when sexual harassment claims were brought to HR, they weren’t taken seriously. And California regulators found this, too, in their investigation that high-ranking executives even engaged in their own blatant sexual harassment and that HR officials were close to the alleged harassers. Now, Powell told me women at the company felt like they were being penalized for their gender.
POWELL: Women who take time off from work for pregnancy are not supported when they get back. And when they do get back, they find that their careers have been set back by years.
ALLYN: Powell there is talking about women getting demoted and pushed into less technical roles and just watching harassers in the office go unpunished.
SIMON: These are certainly some very damning accusations. And I wonder how the company’s responded.
ALLYN: Yeah. So Bobby Kotick, Blizzard’s CEO, has apologized to employees and says the company’s initial response to the lawsuit where they were fighting back was, quote, “tone deaf.” The company has brought in an outside law firm to investigate the company’s policies. There’s a manager who was named in the lawsuit as being a harasser. That person has been fired. You know, Kotick says he’s committed to long-lasting change and wants to make sure that Blizzard is a more safe and inclusive place to work.
SIMON: And Blizzard has an avid base of fans around the world who certainly love the video games that it produces and presents. How have they reacted?
ALLYN: Yeah, they sure do. So, you know – but there’s been a problem with sexual harassment in the video game world for a very long time, Scott, I mean, going back at least to the Gamergate scandal. These days, gamers are increasingly speaking out against abuse, though. And some now are boycotting Blizzard games and turning to social media and video game streaming site Twitch to say, you know what? We’ve had it with this company.
Liz Tippett, a University of Oregon law professor who studies the #MeToo movement, told me this could be a watershed moment for the video game industry.
LIZ TIPPETT: Customers saying they don’t want to play the games, workers walking out, Twitch streamers saying they don’t want to stream Activision Blizzard games – those things actually could really affect their bottom line. Those are the things that gets executives’ attention.
ALLYN: You know, Tippett says the troubling accusations have created a PR nightmare for the company, to say the least. And executives are definitely in damage-control mode and now vowing to address some of these issues. And workers right now feel like they have some power to actually hold this company accountable and make some changes to the system.
SIMON: NPR’s Bobby Allyn, thanks so much for being with us.
ALLYN: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
‘Overwatch 2’ Ramattra Gameplay Trailer Shows The Transforming Tank In Action – Forbes
Season 2 of Overwatch 2 is just 10 days away. It’ll add another hero to the fold in the form of Ramattra, an omnic tank. To kick off a week of Season 2 hype, Blizzard has provided the first official look at Ramattra in action with a gameplay trailer.
We already knew that Ramattra would able to transform between two forms, and we get some sense of that in the trailer. He has a barrier he can project, in a similar vein to Sigma (though it’ll likely work in a different way).
One of his abilities seems to be a gravity well that can pull airborne enemies to the ground. Used properly, it could be an effective way to make a Pharah, Echo, Wrecking Ball, Mercy or perhaps even a wall-riding Lúcio an easier target to take out.
In his larger form, Ramattra can mitigate damage from the front by crossing his arms (similar to Doomfist’s Power Block). It looks like his attacks are more melee-based in that form too. As for Ramattra’s Ultimate, it seems like he deals area-of-effect damage while being able to use his other abilities.
We’ll find out more details about Ramattra and his kit in a developer update video that will premiere tomorrow. Next week, we’ll get the first gameplay trailer for Season 2, the content roadmap for the season and a reveal of the new map. There’s a lot to look forward to.
For more news and updates on Overwatch 2 and other games, follow my Forbes blog! You’ll get a weekly round-up email that includes everything I publish. You’d be doing me a solid, too — it’s a great way to support me and my work at no cost.
Fido, Virgin add $45/50GB plan for Black Friday
Fido and Virgin Plus have joined Koodo in offering a $45/mo 50GB Black Friday plan.
Like Koodo, both Fido and Virgin offer a $65/mo plan with 50GB of data plus a $20/mo bill credit for 24 months. That means customers pay $45/mo for two years with the plan.
The plans are only available for new activations and hardware upgrades, which means if you’re with one of these providers, you’ll need to swap to another one.
Hilarious Video Shows Psyduck Startling A Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Player While Taking A Photograph
One Pokemon Scarlet and Violet fan has shared a funny video that shows a Psyduck appearing out of nowhere to startle a player who was snapping a photo. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are among the best selling titles of the year, despite the mixed reviews from fans and critics globally. The gameplay and multiplayer mode of the latest Pokemon games receive praise and backlash for the myriad performance issues.
Because of these technical problems, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are getting review bombed, but some fans are embracing them. Glitches are common in the latest titles, and players have reported seeing some truly bizarre things in their playthroughs. Some gamers have seen a grotesque glitch in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, whereas a random Psyduck bug is also common. Psyduck makes the headlines again after a player spotted it in rather unusual circumstances.
Reddit user metronn uploaded a video that shows their funny encounter with the duck Pokemon. The user intended to photograph a scenic view of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet‘s region of Paldea. Paldea is a brand-new area introduced in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, which is based on the Iberian peninsula and has diverse geographic features like mountains, forests, and several lakes. In the video, the player attempts to take a picture of a serene place on the shoreside of a water body, with mountains in the background and water flowing peacefully.
After successfully capturing one side of the scenery, the player slowly moves the camera to show the surrounding areas and a few fish pocket monsters in the body of water. As the camera moves, something unusual is seen in the bottom right corner of the screen, which appears to be another Pokemon. This turns out to be a Psyduck, who appears out of nowhere and is standing right next to the user, who was seemingly unaware of its presence. The original poster is understandably startled by seeing the Psyduck, who apparently photobombed their efforts to take a beautiful picture in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
Since its introduction in the first generation, Psyduck has established itself as one of the most famous Pokemon of all time. It has featured in almost every Pokemon game from each generation until the current ninth-gen games, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. Psyduck is not the strongest or the fastest pocket monster, but still, it has millions of fans around the world who are excited to see it in unusual circumstances.
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