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Former Blizzard devs criticized for all-male "Notorious" games studio

Former World of Warcraft developers at Blizzard have started a new all-male game studio called "Notorious" and raises questions about gender inequity.
Former World of Warcraft developers at Blizzard have recently launched their own company, called Notorious Game Studios, and it is backed by Riot Games and a $5 million investment from Galaxy Interactive. The game development studio has eight employees, which it aims to grow to twelve by early next -- but there's just one problem -- they're all male.

A recent article by Kotaku staff writer Sisi Jiang criticized Notorious' lack of gender equity, reporting that the only female at the company is "Chief Morale Officer," Ellie -- who is a dog.

Given the backlash received by Blizzard this year following allegations of gender discrimination, harassment, and fostering of a "frat boy workplace culture," it doesn't appear as though Notorious is doing much to step out of Blizzard's shadow.

Former Blizzard devs start "Notorious" all-male games studio

In an interview with Venture Beat, Notorious founder Chris Kaleiki recognized that the troubles unearthed at Blizzard regarding gender discrimination and harassment had "been really troubling [and] hard to hear about."

Kaleiki continued to add that Notorious is aspiring to do a "flatter structure," explaining that none of the current employees has ever been leads or directors. "Previously in our careers, we were all individual contributors. We were the ones who'd just build or code or make art or design things. We aspire to have that flatter structure where we don't have a rigid hierarchy," Kaleiki said.

Continuing to explain his reasoning for appropriating a "flatter structure," Kaleiki said that "harassment usually comes from a subordinate-superior sort of relationship" and hopes that a "flatter structure can address some of those problems."

Chris Kaleiki is a former Systems and Class Designer on World of Warcraft at Blizzard of 13-years. (Picture: Notorious)
Chris Kaleiki is a former Systems and Class Designer on World of Warcraft at Blizzard of 13-years. (Picture: Notorious)

While Kaleiki's idea to establish a somewhat 'discrimination-free studio' may seem sensible in practice, it does raise the question of whether Notorious' lack of female representativeness is a genuine corrective measure to mitigate workplace harassment or outright misogyny.

Kotaku's Sisi Jiang argues that there is an ongoing issue of gender inequity in games development and postulates that Kaleiki could have hired more than just competent women at Blizzard to join his founding team but presumably chose not to. 

Notorious Studios does not have any female employees. (Picture: Notorious)
Notorious Studios does not have any female employees. (Picture: Notorious)

Indeed, this is just speculation, but it is eyebrow-raising, to say the least. I, therefore, echo Kotaku's opinion that Notorious should endeavour to recruit more female developers to join their team.

 

Don't forget to check out our general video games section for industry news, guides, and much more.

Featured image courtesy of Notorious Game Studios.