Former World of Warcraft Devs Start Studio Where Only Female Staffer Is A Dog

Former World of Warcraft Devs Start Studio Where Only Female Staffer Is A Dog
Image: Notorious Studios

Ex-Blizzard developers who started Notorious Studios seem to have exactly zero women on their development team. The staff page shows nine developers and two advisors, all of which are men, and one canine “Chief Morale Officer” named Ellie. Which means that the studio has more dogs than women. Yikes.

Notorious Studios is an RPG studio made entirely of former Blizzard developers, most of whom worked on World of Warcraft.

Although Activision Blizzard is currently under legal and public scrutiny for gender discrimination, a report from 2017 confirmed that at least 21 per cent of their employees were women. So, presumably, the founder had met at least a couple of women who were skilled enough to work at one of the highest-profile video game companies in the world. He just…didn’t hire any of them to be a part of the founding team. Kotaku reached out to Kaleiki for a comment yesterday but did not receive a response.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Notorious Studio co-founder Kaleiki acknowledged that Blizzard faces a major reckoning for gender discrimination and sexual harassment. He said that the all-male team was also affected by Blizzard’s troubles and offered a solution for avoiding their former employer’s mistakes:

“What’s important is starting a culture and having no tolerance for harassment and things like that, and also being transparent and open,” Kaleiki said. He added that Notorious Studios has a “flatter structure,” made up of people who wrote code, made art, and designed pieces of games rather than serving as leads or directors.

Harassment usually comes from a subordinate-superior sort of relationship. We’re hoping that [a] flatter structure can address some of those problems,” he said in the interview.

It’s definitely a lot harder for men to harass women if there are no women to harass. But the gender equity problem in game development remains. Do women have access to the large amounts of venture capital funding that has become available to studio founders during the pandemic? At Notorious Studios, the answer seems to be a resounding “no.” The company lists Riot Games as one of its investors, which is still dealing with the PR fallout of its own gender discrimination reckoning following a class action lawsuit by its female employees.

In the light of all this, hopefully Kaleiki will find some women to join his World of Warcraft guild.


    • Lol, dude, what? Not that there’s a major issue here, but it sounds like you’re saying that if there was, that you’d be okay with it as long as the games were good?

      • I’d be more concerned if they were explicitly excluding women, but with such a small sample size I don’t think there’s any reason to suspect it.
        Besides one could easily assume that the current staff are people who have worked together and formed strong bonds already, perhaps there hasn’t even been a hiring process yet. That’s of course entirely speculation.

        At any rate, in this modern climate I’d like to see some testing. How does an all male studio perform, all female studio, 50/50 split, and so on. Would be interesting.

      • At the end of the day, what matters is if what they make is good. And I think it’s fine that the company is all male. Like, an all-female dev team would be celebrated, right? So I see no issues with an all-male one.

  • Given that the sexual harassment in one of the other big scandals in the last year or two was males being sexually harassed by other males, while the females on staff only complained about being paid less, I’d say that the chances are just as high.

  • I wouldn’t say this is super scandalous *yet*, given that the company only has nine staff and has only just been established. It is a bad look, especially given the attachment to Blizzard’s issues, but here’s hoping it’s something they intend to address as the company matures.

  • “Which means that the studio has more dogs than women. Yikes. ”

    The only thing ‘yikes’ is this take. They have just started a studio and have 9 people. Get a grip.

  • Hi Kotaku

    Do you have any evidence the company is actively excluding women from being hired? Or are you just talking shit?

  • DJ, you’re making straw-men again. They didn’t suggest that. They’re pointing out that the optics are bad, given the Blizzard connection.

    • So Kotaku is talking shit for a headline, Got it.

      Hey Kotaku US doesn’t have that many POC on staff, Im not suggesting anything, Just pointing out that the optics are bad given how strongly Kotaku US supported BLM.

      • I wouldn’t call it talking shit, cos that implies that it’s not true. It’s click-baity, yeah, but it’s accurate.

        That’d be a legit point, assuming it’s accurate. I’m not able to find a ‘here’s our staff’ page, though.

        • The optics would only be “bad” if the suggestion was, that there are no female employees due to nefarious reasons.

          “I’m not able to find a ‘here’s our staff’ page, though.”

          It’s right here for Koatku US staff.

          As you can see… there’s a serious lack of males in editorial positions… Also, Doesn’t seem to be any Black or Asian representation in any of their Senior positions… I’m going to go ahead and say there are no Jewish people there either…

          Hell, apart from Patricia “click bait” Hernandez, every staffer in senior and editorial positions seem to be strictly white.

          Obviously… This is obviously due to anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Jew sentiment there at Kotaku US….

          *rolls eyes*

        • The optics are only bad to people like you who live on twitter.
          You even admit they only have 9 staff at the moment.
          What the hell is wrong with you people that you already jump to conclusions.

  • tldr: You you’re not allowed to start a studio with a small group of your friends/close colleagues unless it follow’s Kotaku US’ diversity mandates and includes random hires you don’t know as well

    I’m sure Sisi is going to continue writing about the plethora of sub-10 staffer all-male studios that pop up each year… right? Surely this won’t just be a one-off thing just because of their former employer.

    • Kotaku has no authority to “allow” anything.

      The author is commenting on how little diversity there is in this particular group of “friends/close colleagues”. I mean, the fact that all the “friends/close colleagues” are entirely male, coming from an organisation where we know that quite a few colleagues had questionable attitudes to women, says nothing whatsoever about their attitudes to women, right?

      And I know how fond you guys are of “free speech” and all, including the right to offend. Indeed, giving offense isn’t really a thing anyhow, is it? Kotaku are just talking facts, after all. I guess if someone is offended here that’s entirely on YOU and nobody else, eh?

      • Freedom of speech goes both ways. She can imply that it’s sexist and we can imply that she hasn’t ever lived in the real wold or worked in programming for doing so. Equality at its best.

      • Hot take.

        In a group of your 10 closest friends, there seems to be a lack of X representation. The obvious implication being that you are some form of -ist/-phobic. There is no other excuse or reason for it.

        Careful Angry, I can guarantee that your close friend group doesn’t consist of every single form or intersection of representation… And based on your questionable attitude in general… We wouldn’t want to be making sweeping generalisations now, would we?

  • Why you trying to start trouble where there is none? It’s almost like some kind of weird kotaku virtue signalling.

    Oh look! It’s a studio of entirely men… they must be sexist pigs… sigh

  • Are they hurting anyone ? Are they breaking any laws ? Are they abusing anyone? … it is their business and theirs alone. Gamers won’t care what the genitalia of the developers are..

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!