Batman Arkham Developer Rocksteady Responds To Harassment Claims

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Batman Arkham Developer Rocksteady Responds To Harassment Claims
Image: Warner Bros.

Rocksteady Studios released a statement on Twitter today addressing recent claims that it failed to respond to concerns about sexual harassment at the studio, saying it “dealt with issues raised” in the past, and is committing to work with an independent third-party to address any new complaints that might come up in the future.

On August 18, the Guardian reported that back in 2018, several female employees at Rocksteady signed a letter addressed to the studio citing concerns about sexual harassment, including behaviour like groping and unwanted advances. According to the Guardian’s report, there were some employees who did not think Rocksteady took enough action in response to the issues raised in the letter. In today’s statement, Rocksteady disputes that, writing “In response to the initial communication, we met with all our female staff, we listened, and we dealt with the issues raised.”

The studio’s statement went on:

All formal complaints were thoroughly investigated, addressed appropriately and a number of serious measures were taken in response to the issues that were surfaced, including discipline for termination of staff.

Since then, we have introduced new ways of ensuring we are making good on our commitment to inclusion, such as asking all female staff to provide feedback about the portrayal and behaviour of characters in the games we make. We are dedicated to listening and improving, and have employed specialists to help further enhance equity and representation at Rocksteady.

In addition to these past actions Rocksteady says it’s taken, the studio also announced that it is now working with an “independent third-party to confidentially speak with all employees” about any issues they’d like to report. The studio also said it will be reaching out to all former female employees from the last two years as part of this process.

Report: Batman Developer Rocksteady Accused Of Failing To Address Sexual Harassment

Female staffmembers at Rocksteady Studios, best known for the Batman: Arkham series, sent a letter to management back in 2018 complaining about sexual harassment, according to a new report by the Guardian.

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Following the Guardian’s initial report, a former senior writer on Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game, Kim MacAskill, came forward in a video on YouTube that described her experiences at the studio and concerns over how harassment allegedly went unaddressed there. “99 per cent of the devs in that studio are some of the nicest people who I really care about,” MacAskill said in the video, while at the same time calling on management to change how it handled complaints, in part so women felt more empowered to come forward with them in the first place.

A day after the Guardian’s report, and prior to releasing its own statement, Rocksteady shared what it said was an “unsolicited” letter from some of the female employees still at the studio who had signed the original 2018 letter. In it, the women said that the studio had taken certain steps at the time, including meetings and workshops, to address their concerns.

This all comes two months after Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft was rocked by allegations of misconduct across the company, which resulted in several high profile resignations, departures, and firings, as well as outside firms coming in to conduct investigations.

Rocksteady is set to reveal Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, its first new game since 2015’s Arkham Knight, at Warner Bros. DC FanDome event tomorrow night.

Comments

  • I think in this case, I’m going to trust the letter from the women involved. Not the company, not the anonymous leak, but the word of the women themselves.

  • Repeat after me: “The purpose of HR is not to protect the company’s employees. The purpose of HR is to protect the company from its employees.”

    • Oh I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. When I worked for GE Money, we had a HR dept who was very, very combative with the people on the floor for a short while (around 12 – 15 months out of my 4 years stint there). At one point, one of the guys took their “Personnel Department” sign and covertly changed it to PersonHell Department.

      NOONE in that department noticed for approximately a month. It was the best goddamn joke on the floor for ages. After we had an upper management shift though, with some new blood, I was happy to see the culture slightly change and become more amicable. But yeah you’re definitely spot on there!

    • I’ll never forget years ago during a meeting at a fairly large company I worked for, I once had a HR rep pretty blatantly try to gaslight me. Twisting shit she said that I’d repeat word for word to clarify, and pretty clearly implying I was hearing things, and all I could think was… ‘Fuck me, how many times have you done this where people haven’t realised?’

      It was something I even had confirmed through sheer coincidence when a co-worker mentioned a similarly bizzarre conversation with the same HR rep, and I just happened to be the first person on their line that they ran into when wanting to vent about it.

      • Let’s go into slander territory. I’ma name a company directly. MEX in Brisbane on Annerley road. Around 2009ish I worked for them. I was on trial, fair enough, it didn’t work out, fair enough. I copped that sweet.

        Until in the meeting they asked me “Why in your first 3 months did you have 3 days off.”

        I said “I had an epileptic seizure. I was in hospital for 2 days and home for 1 on doctors advice.”

        The cow from HR (shouldn’t say that, Cows serve a purpose), said to me, and I will never forget these exact words:

        “If you truly had of wanted this job you would’ve crawled in to work to keep it.”

        My teamleader who was present, said he liked me but agreed I wasn’t suited to the position. I agreed with him, but told her she needed to shut up.

        She then went on to say “Someone who wanted a job wouldn’t let something like that get in their way…”

        She then offered to let me finish out working the rest of my day before I left. Lol.

        I packed up, left and on the way out ensured in a very crowded foyer thanked her for telling me, an epileptic, that I should crawl in after I’d had a seizure. No idea the reaction but that felt good as I closed the door behind me.

        Fuck “Mex” and Fuck their HR dept.

        • I’ll never get that insane, “You should sacrifice everything for this employer that would drop you at a moment’s notice!” idea some people push and act like that’s perfectly sane. Usually from diehard ‘live to work’ types that have absolutely nothing else in life.

          Before my issue I spoke of, I had an absolutely ‘rest when I’m dead’ type work ethic… Did my job to a stellar degree, never complained, etc, to the point where I was once wheelchaired out of a room because ‘pushing through the pain’ was my norm.

          But after how I was treated there all that absolutely changed. I would no longer take shit from employers (criticism/feedback is fine and useful when delivered reasonably), and no longer would I go above and beyond or do more than the bare minimum required if I was working a job where the goal was essentially just making money for someone else.

          I’ve about lost it on numerous occassions when someone has given me the ‘sometimes you just have to deal with bullshit’ spiel, because that very notion is precisely why shitty workplaces continue to exist and get away with mistreating people.

          It’s why I shifted focus a few years ago to more mentally/emotionally rewarding work that was about helping people, rather than helping someone turn a profit.

        • interesting to see where this site stands on censorship. you can blatantly call a person a cow. but i am not allowed to provide an opinion that goes against this sites left world view. hmm.

          • Dunno mate, they can remove the whole post if they want, but she openly discriminated against me as per the 1992 DDA by telling me that. When someone does that, they lose all standing as a human being in my books. I have no idea what you’re referring to as far as your views go, so I can’t comment on it.

          • I’ve seen plenty of posts that were against Kotaku’s “left world view” that weren’t removed, so if yours was, chances are you were just being an asshole.

          • Pretty sure if it was about some delicate left-wing sensibility being unable to handle your raw truthbombs they’d outright ban you instead of leaving you free to post whatever you want whenever you want.
            But nah, I’m sure it’s all part of the left’s conspiracy to censor you. Nothing at all to do with the fact that they don’t want a repeat of Gizmodo where the comments were so jammed full of hateful crap it was easier to just turn them off entirely.

      • It’s crazy because so many people assume HR is acting in good faith so they walk out of there without realising the company’s ideal conflict resolution was to sweep everyone who was harmed under the rug. They don’t get that no one in HR will ever say ‘sounds like you have a solid legal case against this person, how can we help you seek justice’.

  • Kotaku should get on top of the EB Games Australia sexual harassment situation. Female employees leave before anything is even attempted to be sorted out.

    This one seems more like a “It happened but that’s all we know” situation. Go help the girls at EB, Kotaku.

      • No article. I feel like it’s being ignored. There’s been ladies on Reddit talking about it. I took screen shots. If Australian gaming journalism really wanted to, they could get on top of it.
        They won’t. They’ll wait until something just HAPPENS like they always do them discuss their very important opinions after the fact.

        • Well, send the info to Alex via his email or on discord. I’m sure he would be interested to at least hear about it.

          • Im sure they’d seek it out themselves if they really wanted to. Being in the industry, they’d hear all about it for sure.

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