Activision Blizzard, a publisher under a government investigation revolving around sexual harassment at the company, allegedly stopped a Call of Duty personality from leading her own team within a tournament held by her own organisation. The reason? She’s claiming that the publisher was uncomfortable with her “oversexual tweets.”
Kalei Renay is a member of FaZe Clan, a popular gaming influencer group known for its various eSports teams. Over the course of the year last year alone, her viewership increased by a whopping 200 per cent, a rise that pairs nicely with the honour of winning the GameHers award for top esports streamer of the year on Twitch. And recently, she tweeted out:
“Wasn’t allowed to get a captain spot in our own faze tourney due to activision literally not liking my **oversexual tweets**,” Renay wrote in a since-deleted tweet last night. “Yet … the same company has a pfp of a creators [sic] arse cheek as their avi on a company twitter.”
The tweets accusing Activision of somehow intervening and disallowing aren’t specific, and Renay did not respond to a request for comment.
Our best educated guess tells us it’s likely December’s Pacific Pursuit. Hosted by Faze Clan and ATL FaZe (FaZe’s Call of Duty team), the event featured the top 20 teams out of qualifiers competing for a prize pool of $US100,000 ($138,820). But regardless of what specific tournament it was, given Renay’s accomplishments and undeniable skill at the game, you’d think she’d be a good fit for leading a team — especially if her own group is hosting the event.
But since money is involved, and FaZe is a legit organisation, it’s likely that they have to play by the book. That means having Activision sign off on things. Activision’s official code of conduct for players is rife with legalese that effectively gives the publisher all the power, demanding, among other vague requirements, that players meet “the highest standards of personal integrity and good sportsmanship … as determined by administration.” In other words, the contents of a player’s social media could, indeed, influence your standing with the company.
Renay does veer into PG-13 or R-rated territory from time to time. Look at her social media feeds and you’ll see everything from the occasional lewd phrase to, in one case, a photo of what appears to be a human-sized sex toy. On the other hand, you have a professional game studio literally posting arse.
That’s the issue for Renay: hypocrisy. The Twitter page she refers to belongs to Raven Software. Yes, the very same that is organising to form the first union among Activision Blizzard studios, somehow. According to now-changed profile pictures immortalised in screenshots, the Twitter account on Thursday night sported an avatar of a very fresh arse tattoo belonging to FaZe Clan team member Kris “Swagg” Lamberson.
In January, Lamberson publicly said he’d get an ink of Raven Software on his “right cheek” if the studio reverted an update about loadouts. The studio did, and Lamberson stuck to his word. The official Call of Duty Twitter account retweeted the photo (warning: PG-13). And last night, Raven’s official Twitter page appears to have briefly listed Lamberson’s tattoo as its profile picture. (Screencap seen here, courtesy of esports commentator Jake Lucky.) The photo has since reverted to key art of the studio’s logo. The entire charade raises questions about double-standards, about what men can get away with posting on social media that women cannot.
“This has nothing to do with FaZe (it was only a tourney and Acti actually accepts and denies captains),” Renay wrote. In follow-up tweets, she affirmed the support she’s received from FaZe, and clarified that she bears no ill will toward Lamberson.
“Kalei is unapologetically herself and we love that about her,” a representative for FaZe Clan told Kotaku in a statement. “Her tweets are often deemed inappropriate by others, but obviously by her being a member of FaZe, we support her and would never keep her from doing anything that any of our other members are able to do.”
Activision Blizzard declined to comment.