In the past year, Nintendo has made steps to improve the lives of its employees within its workspace. However, despite its efforts, misconduct still slips through the cracks. Earlier today, Kotaku published a disturbing report revolving around the alleged mistreatment of Nintendo of America’s temporary female and LGBTQ testers. According to the report, former testers of the gaming company have allegedly faced inappropriate physical and verbal behavior, along with a work culture comparable to “a frat house.”
Nintendo mainly uses contract workers for product testing. According to the report, 25 percent of employees within its North American headquarters were on a contract. However, female testers’ numbers are allegedly only “around 10 percent.” Sources within the report remarked that women in tester teams “would number in the single digits.” Due to these disproportionate numbers of female testers, many former contract workers have reported an alleged wage gap and harassment from full-time employees. These sources noted that the alleged sexist behavior within the workplace was common and “very little action was taken to address it.”
One of the sources within the report, a former tester gave the alias Hannah, recounted her experience working at Nintendo. Hannah witnessed alleged problematic sexual messages within an employee group chat and reported them to management under the contracting company Aerotek. To Hannah’s disappointment, the employee responsible for the messages was only sent to sexual harassment training. She stated that following the report Aerotek management warned her “to be less outspoken.”
The report went into other unnamed sources’ unwanted experiences, detailing alleged inappropriate encounters with high-ranking employees Melvin Forrest and Eric Bush. Employees like them allegedly used their higher status within the company to keep female workers from reporting against them. Hannah also alleged that she struggled with inappropriate comments and unwanted advances in working relationships with male colleagues due to being an open lesbian. These alleged comments made her so uncomfortable that she distanced herself from her male colleagues.
The sources also alleged that it was difficult for female testers to find full employment within Nintendo, with many noting that even after years within the company nothing changed. It’s alleged that female testers are kept from advancing within a “revolving door of female talent.” The sources allege that management is indifferent to keeping them, with contractors being given “no explicit goals or benchmarks to hit that might assure a full-time conversion—or even a contract renewal.”
“Nothing was based on metrics. It was things like, ‘You got to get more face time with this guy. I’m going to invite you to lunch, you know, with so-and-so. Make sure you talk about these kinds of things,” said former tester Allison to Kotaku. “Nothing that [was] specific work-related things. You weren’t given any of these tools.”
It seems that no video game company is exempt from serious allegations such as these. However, even with these horrible experiences, the report noted that many women still opted to work with Nintendo due to “attachment with Nintendo’s brand.” Regardless, we are still a long way away from an industry that’s fully accepting of all identities.