Much like the one before it, 2021 was a challenging year. Covid-19 continued to distress the world, and more stories of abuse in the video game industry continued to surface. Activision-Blizzard made headlines after California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil lawsuit against the company for gender discrimination, sexual harassment and unequal pay. Riot Games ended up reaching a $100 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed in 2018, alleging discrimination and harassment against its female employees. And Ubisoft continued to lose employees at an alarming rate, prompting insiders to dub the recent wave of departures as “the great exodus”. In 2021, the company’s attrition rate was reported as 12% — higher than competitors like Electronic Arts, Take-Two and Epic Games.
Among the common reasons ex-Ubisoft employees cited for leaving was the ongoing mishandling of workplace misconduct, and management seemingly ignoring their calls for meaningful change. In the summer of 2021, a growing number of disgruntled current and former employees formed ABetterUbisoft to demand equitable treatment and better workplace conditions. Since the group’s formation, a petition aimed at Ubisoft leadership has been signed by more than 13,000 people, including employees, Ubisoft fans, players and other supporters across the industry.
Ubisoft management continues to claim it has taken steps to improve company culture and that the results of these changes are evident in the decreased number and severity of internal misconduct reports. However, members of ABetterUbisoft expressed doubt that the changes were sufficient, stating that “Ubisoft’s structure itself protected people who committed abuses of power, and [that] this was done with intent”.
It is clear to us at AC Sisterhood that a lot of work remains to be done in advocating for women and helping to prevent abuse in the video gaming industry.
For our part, in 2021 we helped raise over $15,000 for Breast Cancer Research in collaboration with the BCRF and Discord. We’re still humbled by all the support and would like to once more extend a huge thanks to the many wonderful people who donated money, time or prizes for such a great cause.
In August a number of AC Sisterhood members collaborated on a podcast stream dubbed the Ubi Community Round Table event, where women from various Ubisoft communities came together to discuss the ongoing allegations of abuse within the industry, as well as our own experiences and perspectives.
Our 2021 podcast featured as guests writer Betty Robertson, actress Cecilie Stenspil, actor Magnus Bruun, Kanien’kéha translator and language consultant Akwiratékha’ Martin, and production manager Anouk Bachman. We’re grateful for having had the opportunity to interview so many people who contributed so much to the games we love. Give them all a listen if you missed any!
Last but not least, in 2021 we streamlined our application process for the AC Sisterhood Discord server where we work hard to foster a safe, positive and inclusive atmosphere. We moved from word-of-mouth to open applications, so if you’re looking for a welcoming community where we discuss games and more, as well as partake in fun activities… don’t be shy, come join us!
We’ll continue to highlight women and marginalized creatives in 2022, celebrate their work, and advocate for safe and equitable working places. Thank you to all our supporters who inspire us to keep doing what we do, and Happy New Year.