Kotaku a few days prior to this article published a report on allegations made by former employees and contract workers about widespread misconduct and sexual harassment while working for Nintendo of America. This report prompted Nintendo of America’s president Doug Bowser to issue a statement to its employees in an internal email indicating that he will “…investigate any allegations we become aware of, and we are actively investigating these most recent claims.”
Stories began to surface recently about the frat boy culture and sexual harassment of Nintendo’s contract employees, product testers and game testers when a few anonymous sources stepped forward to share their stories and experiences. A female contract game tester shared her recent experiences with Nintendo, saying, “Nintendo was almost like a nightmare. It’s sad because I love Nintendo; I grew up with Nintendo.” This particular tester, who remained anonymous, reported a wide gender pay gap amongst her male counterparts, and when she stepped forward to her contract company Aerotek to report abusive group chat messages amongst Nintendo employees, she was told to be “less outspoken.” This led to a chain of events that forced her out of the company and seek work elsewhere.
These reports are primarily coming out of the Nintendo of America studios in Redmond, Washington, which employs roughly 1,229 according to Nintendo’s own numbers. The percentage of women employed full time is roughly 37% compared to their male counterparts. Interestingly enough, they don’t report the number of contract workers and employees like the Japanese, European and Australian studios do. It is truly unknown how many contract employees Nintendo of America really employ. The Japanese Nintendo studios report far fewer numbers of full-time female employees, which hover around 20%.
Nintendo of America uses the contract company Aerotek for the majority of its temp work in game and product testing, and has been subject to a multitude of labor lawsuits over the years regarding age, sex, and race. discrimination. One of those lawsuits required the company to pay a 3 million dollar settlement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the same report, Kotaku reached out to many other current and former employees and contractors working for Nintendo and validated many of the allegations made against the Japanese-based company. Kotaku collected data from multiple other sources over months of investigating citing a rampant “frat house” culture amongst full-time male employees, “favoritism” to certain female counterparts, unwanted advancements from higher-ups, discriminatory comments toward women who identify as homosexual, and many other damaging allegations. Many of these employees would report to Human Resources, but be told maybe they were “misinterpreting” comments, or were made to “feel guilty” about making such reports.
We’ve seen widespread gender discrimination and harassment disproportionately toward females within the video game development workplace come to light over recent years thanks to brave people stepping forward to report misconduct and misdeeds, and cultural changes being made as a result. It seems even Nintendo is not immune to toxic workplace culture, despite Nintendo’s pledges to increase their management teams to include more women, and foster a more inclusive workplace. This story will be developing as we find out more.
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