Nintendo of America playtesters report abuse of power and sexual harassment

Abuse of power and sexual harassment at Nintendo subcontractors are the subject of a recent report by Kotaku.

Abuse of power and sexual harassment at Nintendo subcontractors are the subject of a recent report by Kotaku.

Kotaku Magazine spoke to several people who have been subcontracted to Nintendo and tested games. In their statements, they paint a picture of a toxic work culture in which women are constantly exposed to sexual harassment, discrimination and privacy violations.

Those are the allegations

It’s all about this: has devoted a detailed report to the subject. We summarize the most important things here: The focus of the article is on the statements of people who did not have a permanent direct job at Nintendo of America, but were hired through subcontractors.

Kotaku spoke to several people: In the report, various people describe that women in particular suffered from a toxic working atmosphere. As in the allegations against Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, the comparison with a student fraternity came up. The article is based on the experiences of individuals as well as incidents that have been confirmed by multiple sources.

According to the report, there had been repeated abuses of power by permanent male employees. There have been various situations in which women in the company have felt uncomfortable or not adequately protected. An allegation of stalking and the problems involved in taking action against perpetrators are also discussed.

Discrimination against queer people: According to a former play tester, it was particularly difficult for queer women. In the article, homosexual women talk about experiencing discrimination in their relationships and inappropriate comments such as it’s a shame that they’re gay.

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Concrete cases of border crossings

For example, senior executives have been reported to have a habit of hitting on women or making inappropriate jokes about gender stereotypes and more. A former tester reports that at a party he was asked by his supervisor Eric Bush to ask a female employee the color of her underwear. Bush has worked on various Pokémon titles, as well as Breath of the Wild, among others.

Another name mentioned is Melvin Forrest, who was the head of product testing and is currently unclear if he is still with the company. Forrest, who worked on games like Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country, is said to have made inappropriate advances on a regular basis, according to multiple sources.

Women in the company would have warned each other about Forrest, but had the problem that he decided on the selection of the testers. Persons without a permanent position were therefore dependent on his goodwill.

Sources report abuse of power

The problem that arises from the power imbalance between permanent employees and those who have been hired through subcontractors is addressed in more detail in the report. Former playtester Valerie Allison explains:

“A lot of the Nintendo of America “Red Badges” [festangestellte Mitarbeiter] had a reputation for using the game testing staff pool as a dating pool.”

According to Allison, it was extremely difficult for her, i.e. a tester without a permanent job, to get a perspective on one. There were no clear chances of being taken on based on good work. Instead, it was necessary to get on well with people in senior positions. Another person who worked in game testing reports that men had better chances of permanent jobs because they were all friends.

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According to the report, it was very difficult for women to report incidents. For example, these were played down as misunderstandings. A man who stalked a woman with “disturbing” texts and calls was given a free hand because he was friends with the right people, according to multiple sources. The victim reported to Kotaku:

“He literally said he would fire me if I reported it.”

The current situation surrounding the allegations

Especially in the area of ​​game testing, but also in many other areas and industries, it is common practice to fill some of the positions through subcontractors. Nintendo of America hired playtesters through companies including Aerotek (which has since been reorganized into Aston Carter), against which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says it has had several labor grievances filed over the years. The NLRB is an independent agency of the United States federal government.

A union-busting lawsuit was filed with the company in April, listing Aston Carter and Nintendo as joint employers. A second complaint was also filed against both companies in August. The complaints in this revolve around “retaliation”, “dismissal” and “coercive rules”. Both cases are still open.