Serious Racism Allegations Levelled At Video Game Developer

Serious Racism Allegations Levelled At Video Game Developer

San Francisco studio Kixeye is at the centre of some pretty serious allegations of institutional racism, after a person claiming to be an employee wrote a lengthy blog post outlining repeated acts of discrimination against he and other black colleagues.

Writing as Qu33riousity, the apparent employee – who is now pursuing legal action against the developer – lists several and repeated acts of racial discrimination and improper conduct on the part of Kixeye staff (which we must point out we can’t confirm and are seeking the other side of the story on). Some of the lowlights:

The next week I come into work and find a message from Mike on Skype:

“I have to talk to you later, its not a really big deal but they brought it up to me.”

We step into a conference room during lunch.

“Steve wanted me to let you know that we’re dressing too thuggish in the office and we need to dress in a way that reflects the company better.”

I take a very deep breath through my nose. I tell [Steve], rather I clarify for him that many things said by him and other people in the office has been racist, sexist, homophobic, transpho-

“Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you’re hearing aren’t racist; they’re jokes!”


“The problem is that you’re too sensitive. You need to check all that at the door before you come here to work.”


“We don’t even tolerate people brining up concerns of racism here.”

I try to push back, pointing out the realities of the world, that there are policies and laws that maintain racial inequality so it’s not feasible to check the impact of reality “at the door.”

“No, you’re too sensitive, that’s the problem. I acknowledge that racism happens out there in the world at times, but racism doesn’t happen in this office.”

“Besides, there are transvestites on the team that I hired.”

Oh my lord, so hiring “transvestites” somehow absolves you racist? Prior, I had noticed that indeed there were a few transwomen working in the office. All of them white, and all the while homophic and transphobic comments still riddle the office like bullet holes despite their presence.

Going back to the matter at hand, Steve then proceeds to do what white men always can’t help but do: “educate.”

“Let me tell you, it’s ok to make jokes about slavery because that’s over.”

Yeah, receiving that felt like a bolt of energy striking the centre of my head and slicing my body in two.

“Are you a slave? Is anyone you know a slave? No, so jokes are fine because that’s in the past.”

For reference, Kixeye is the company behind this infamous recruitment video, and has been actively and publicly seeking out not programmers, but “brogrammers”, while at the same time saying things like the way the company needed to “weed out people that wouldn’t fit in, that wouldn’t fit in to our culture. … There are certain people that are going to respond negatively to that video, and frankly we wouldn’t want ’em around anyway.”

Also worth noting is that, while the allegations are specific and lengthy, the author isn’t beyond a little stereotyping and generalising himself, repeatedly falling back on the line “Dumbwhite**********”.

In response to the allegations, a Kixeye representative tells Kotaku “We take all claims of discrimination very seriously. Needless to say, we are thoroughly investigating what is fact and what is fiction and will take appropriate action.”

Kotaku has reached out to Qu33riousity for further comment, and will update if we hear back.

Racist Moments of 2012, Pt.1 ~The Workplace~ [Qu33riousity]


  • I read the full entry when it was up (It’s been removed), pretty harrowing and stupid stuff. If it’s all true (which I have no reason to doubt) I hope he gets a large settlement.

    The “Dumbwhit******” was in response to cluelessly racist comments- he wasn’t using it as an epithet or referring to all white people as such.

    • Disagree.

      Repeatedly relying on a race/colour centric term to degrade/dismiss other people, no matter what provocation, is still racist.

      Reading his back catalogue, there’s quite a lot of references to “white privilege” in previous posts, so presumably he’s someone who understands the meta-conversation here and specifically should not be a person who uses those sorts of terms.

      Not to detract from the main article here, but it’s important to note.

      • “Not to detract from the main article here, but it’s important to note.”

        You tried to, and it’s not.

    • Furthermore:

      “Steve then proceeds to do what white men always can’t help but do: “educate.””

      There we go – race-based generalisation, in his own words.

      • Really? That’s what you are going with?

        Sorry, I’m one of those people who gets nasty words thrown at her (I’m trans), and invariably when I protest, I get the same responses he did: It’s a joke! Be less sensitive! Also, let me tell you why you have no right to be offended, and in fact, your being offended is oppressing ME!

        Women get it /all the time/ from men (Look up ‘manspaining’, the same thing when men tell you how rape joke can be funny and you are just over-sensitive because you know too many rape victims).

        It is most prevalent in white males, who are made extremely uncomfortable by other people needing to point out when they are being inappropriate because it SO kills the vibe they have going.

    • So on one hand we have an agency that has been acknowledged to hire blacks, homosexuals, transgenders and I’m going to take the liberty that they even have some run of the mill ‘regular’ people in there too. To me that seems like a pretty laid back place. I know that at a lot of the places I’ve worked at, some of those characters wouldn’t even get a look in.

      On the other hand, we have what to me seems to be a self righteous employee who got a stiff back at a perfectly reasonable request from his employer (i.e. changing his dress code at the office). It’s a nice insight into the guys character to see he INSTANTLY pulls the race card.

      On face value I’m leaning more towards the employers side on this one. I’d love to fire this guy personally: “It’s not because you’re black, or because you’re homosexual. You’re just a douchebag.”

      • I think that the dress code thing was just one issue amongst many. His employer also told him that he had no right to be offended when he spoke up about other issues and said that “they’re just jokes” and “it’s ok to make jokes about slavery because that’s over”.
        I think it’s perfectly reasonable to complain about an employer who shuts you down when you are pointing out racism (whether intended or not) and then continues to be offensive.

        • @freya, I understand you, but the guy comes across as a whinger rather than a victim. He made no reference that the other ethnics in the office shared his sentiments or that they felt victimised at all.

          Mind you, I could be totally wrong, but the guy does come across as a douche. I also believe he paraphrased heavily when “quoting” the management – as I refuse to believe anyone in-charge of such a diverse workplace would be that stupid.

          • It doesn’t matter if the other ‘ethnics’ share his sentiments or not. Racism is still racism! A white dude in an all white office is allowed to be offended by racist jokes.

          • If your definition of racism is “if a single person finds it racist, then it is”. Then you are one of those fools who propagate this kind of conflict. Not everything said has the aim of maiming or demeaning.

  • I haven’t read the full story so I can only comment on what I’ve read here but asking an employee to dress in manner best reflects the company is very a reasonable request. I don’t see a problem at all with a request like that.

      • Just curious how you would describe his dress style? I mean.. what would have been the appropriate terminology to use in relation to his clothing?

          • So it would be fine to say “They’re saying that we are dressing too much like hipsters, so we need to change that”?

            I think the point is that regardless of the word used, it could be taken the wrong way if the person was too sensitive and just waiting for something to be said. Not saying the rest of the stuff wasn’t racist.. but that comment alone isn’t really racist.. “thuggish”, as Barry points out below is a valid description and not a new term..

      • He wasn’t actually calling the employee a thug, he said “… dressing too thuggish in the office and we need to dress in a way that reflects the company better.”

        Maybe it’s just me or I’m reading it a different way to everyone else (again I haven’t read the complete story or both sides) but I don’t find that racist as it could be used on any person no matter what race he/she is. Maybe it’s a case of “You had to be there to hear the tone of his voice” to fully understand why it sounded bad.

    • I don’t know of any studios that have a dress code. It’s just not an industry standard. I saw publishers, VC reps, politicians and even local celebrities come through my workplace and noone so much as mentioned the dress standard. Suits wear suits, devs at work don’t.

  • Well obviously being in Australia I don’t know how bad it is over there. Though here friends here some of which hail from the USA don’t have any issues making jokes about themselves being rednecks or slaves or making fun of others for the point that the company person pointed out; They don’t know anyone who was or is a slave… maybe rednecks. They know rednecks. I make POW jokes and both my grandparents were POW for the Nazi. They told me the first joke using their time in a POW camp.

    Some people need to drop the racism card. It’s all about intent. I’m Chinese, PNG & English, I’ll make fun of each of my cultures if I can make people laugh or vice versa. It’s if I say to my friend Sona “He’s as black as night” as a descriptive term and comical term because he’s almost purple-black. Though if the the context and delivery of saying “He’s as black as night” as if that’s a diseases or affliction then yes that is racism.

    TL;DR – Intent. Intent is a part of everything. Hang around black people sometime. You’ll see we make more racist-sounding jokes about ourselves than any white person could.

  • I work in a Video Game Company, and the first one isn’t that bad, after all: every company wants employees to be dressed the right way. If someone higher up thinks you aren’t dressing the right way and they have a problem with it, better just to fix it.
    Every complaint listed after that? Now that’s pretty unacceptable for an company.

  • This, plus some of the comments on the article are exactly why people will never take anything like racism and discrimination in the workplace seriously until it escalates. Not knowing American work contracts, his dress code could be in breach of contract, but referring to it as “Too thug” is wrong on his employer’s part. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace is also a thing that contracts usually have clauses about and define a grievance process which can escalate pretty high (To union and court levels).

    They say they take these allegations seriously, but I’m doubtful. Anyway, “It’s all just a joke” (a la The Comedian) right?

    • To be perfectly honest, this is just one side of things, it reality it could be very different and this guy is just a wanker, but who knows..

      • A problem is that it’s ALWAYS just one side, just one person. No matter how many people bring up the same things, the same situations, the same institutional issues, it always boils down to ‘everyone has their side’ which is why sexism, racism, and other discriminations are almost impossible to prove.

        The blog was originally apparently posted to blow off steam because he, like most people in his situation, didn’t feel that legal action was likely to be productive. Someone has clearly convinced him otherwise, and it’s been taken down as that is pursued, but I wouldn’t expect anything to come of it in all honesty for the reasons you and others say; when it comes down to someone claiming someone else has been horrid, and they deny it, people really want to believe noone would be like that.

        Some people have commented on the attire issue and if it was too ‘thuggish’, but I also note they didn’t address him directly on that. They apparently told one person of color in the office and had them spread it around. Which is a problem; telling one person in the office to dress more appropriately is not inherently bad. Telling one person of color to tell the others to dress less like stereotypical people of color because it makes the company look bad is entirely another.

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