Yesterday, the California Division of Truthful Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit towards Activision Blizzard over the corporate’s allegedly pervasive culture of sexual harasment and discrimination.
Content material warning: descriptions of sexual harassment
The swimsuit alleges that the corporate has a poisonous office tradition that permits and protects abusers. In response, Activision Blizzard issued a press release denying the claims saying the state of California included “distorted, and in lots of instances false, descriptions of Blizzard’s previous.”
However how simply way back was this “previous”?
Because the horrific allegations towards Activision Blizzard got here to gentle, one portion of the lawsuit stood out as notably egregious. In keeping with the criticism, Alex Afrasiabi, a inventive director on World of Warcraft, was allegedly so infamous together with his habits that his workplace was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite” —ostensibly a misspelling of “Cosby” in reference to alleged rapist Bill Cosby. It reads:
Throughout an organization occasion (an annual conference referred to as Blizz Con) Afrasiabi would hit on feminine staff, telling them he needed to marry them, trying to kiss them, and placing his arms round them. This was in plain view of different male staff, together with supervisors, who needed to intervene and pull him off feminine staff. Afrasiabi was so recognized to have interaction in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite” after alleged rapist Invoice Crosby. Afrasiabi would additionally name females derogatory names at firm occasions. Afrasiabi’s conduct was recognized to Blizzard Leisure’s executives, who took no efficient remedial measures. J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Leisure, allegedly had a number of conversations with Afrasiabi about his consuming and that he had been “too pleasant” in the direction of feminine staff at firm occasions however gave Afiasiabi a slap on the wrist (ie. verbal counseling) in response to those incidents.
Activision Blizzard’s response to the allegations claims the incidents described should not reflective of the corporate’s current values.
“The image the DFEH paints shouldn’t be the Blizzard office of immediately,” the assertion mentioned.
However Afrasiabi labored for Blizzard as just lately as June 2020, when he apparently left the corporate with seemingly minimal point out, to the confusion of the few followers who noticed his departure. In contrast, when Jeff Kaplan—whose time at Blizzard had an analogous size and trajectory as Afrasiabi—left the corporate, it publicly acknowledged his departure.
And although Afrasiabi is gone, his presence nonetheless lingers in World of Warcraft. Kotaku was capable of verify the existence of at the very least two NPCs that proceed to bear his identify, along with numerous objects that straight reference him.
The NPCs in query, Subject Marshal Afrasiabi and Lord Afrasastrasz, may be discovered within the capital metropolis of Stormwind and in Wrymrest Temple, respectively. Along with the NPCs, there are a selection of things named for Afrasiabi, together with Fras Siabi’s Cigar Cutter, a uncommon axe, and customary quest objects like Siabi’s Premium Tobacco. The diploma to which a participant may encounter these items varies: The Stormwind inclusion is out of the way in which, and whereas the Temple reference belongs to a quest-giver, it’s for older Wrath of the Lich King content material.
For the reason that information broke, followers on the World of Warcraft boards are advocating that Afrasiabi’s references be removed or renamed. There may be precedent for Blizzard eradicating NPCs that reference problematic individuals. In 2020, Blizzard eliminated two NPCs named after standard WoW streamer Swifty shortly after Swifty’s former companion accused him of abuse, although the corporate didn’t say if the 2 had been associated. In Afrasiabi’s case, the boards function threads that decision Afrasiabi a “stain” on the WoW neighborhood whereas in-game, a participant left a “Go Away” sign in entrance of one among his NPCs.
Afrasiabi began at Blizzard in 2004, working as a quest designer on World of Warcraft. Amongst his many credit, he designed the hunt that spawned a infamous WoW meme, Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. In 2014, he was credited because the inventive director on WoW’s fifth enlargement, Warlords of Draenor. He additionally has credit as inventive director in Battle for Azeroth and as “further management” in Shadowlands.
Kotaku reached out to Blizzard for remark, however it didn’t reply in time for publication.