Bungie: A Report on Sexism and Abuse at Destiny And Halo Studio
A new investigation by IGN revealed that Bungie (the studio behind Destiny and the previous developers of Halo) has failed to take corrective action in several workplace sexism cases and has required staff to work overtime to meet deadlines.
IGN’s Rebekah Valentine spoke with 26 Bungie employees past and present, who recounted instances where they witnessed or were aware of sexism, racism and other discrimination at the Bellevue-headquartered company. Valentine writes that they also discussed “overt sexism and boys’ club culture, crunch and HR protection for abusers as well as more complicated stories of microaggressions and systemic inequalities and difficulties being heard.”
IGN reports that Bungie’s narrative group is “a very divided group.” This has been evident since the development of the Destiny game, which was released in 2014. IGN was informed by management that some members of the narrative team worked 100-hour workweeks. Management refused to hire additional staff to help ease that burden.
The report describes one of these managers as a “sexist nightmare,” who “throws papers” and shouts in meetings. According to the report, he allegedly told employees who found his behavior unacceptable to grow a thicker skin. Sources at IGN called him “literally the most horrible person I’ve ever worked with.”
Some female members of the Destiny 2 Curse of Osiris development team were targets of angry players who posted threats on Reddit and other platforms. Some staff received death threats – however, IGN learned that Bungie’s management did not support these employees. Worse, it is alleged that Bungie’s senior male staffer, who was still with Bungie at the time IGN wrote, even sent some of these vile comments to other managers in “a bid to destroy the narrative team because the players didn’t like it.”
You can read the full IGN report here. It doesn’t get prettier the more you dig. Male narrative leaders would encourage storylines for Destiny that “lean on harmful stereotypes about women and mental health problems,” despite protests by other staffers. It took several writers to threaten to quit before the toxic leads were finally dealt with. According to IGN, there are “multiple Bungie employees with long history” who “can get away with almost anything, provided they are protected by long-serving HR employees or those in the leadership hierarchy.”
Bungie’s CEO Pete Parsons issued a statement admitting to his and the company’s failures. He has published a public message in response to PC Gamer’s report. It offers apologies and acknowledges that Bungie did not do enough to protect the staff who required it.
Parsons writes: “First of all, I would like to apologize to anyone who has ever had to work in a less safe, fair and professional environment at Bungie. I’m not here to rebut or challenge the experiences that we are seeing today from people who have generously donated their time and talents to our studio. These people were hurt by our actions, or in some cases, our inactions. “I am sorry personally and for Bungie. I feel a deep sense of empathy and sadness after reading these accounts.
He then continues to outline some of the studio’s changes in recent years to create a more productive environment for employees, but he adds that it is not enough and has taken too much time. This does not erase the negative experiences that people have had at our studio.” He ends by saying: “Our future will be determined by our current and future actions regarding the care of our employees. It is our most important purpose. We are humbled and grateful to continue this work, and we are excited about the future.
It is important to note that IGN’s sources all agree that Bungie has made strides in making it a better place for employees, but the CEO’s statement clarifies that they still have a long way to go.