Rocksteady Responds To Sexual Harassment Allegations
There are more grim accusations from the world of video games, and this time, Rocksteady is being called to task amidst allegations of sexual harassment... again. After the Activision Blizzard case blew the lid off the industry, a domino effect has seen everyone from Insomniac Games to Nintendo come under the spotlight in terms of discrimination, harassment, and more.
Starting with Urban Chaos: Riot Response in 2006, Rocksteady went to go on and find fame with Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. Of course, this was just the start of the story, with Arkham City in 2011 and Arkham Knight rounding off the trilogy in 2015. The studio is working on Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League for 2023, but now, the team is being pulled away from development to address these accusations.
Who Accused Rocksteady Of Sexual Harassment?
As reported by Eurogamer, former Rocksteady writer Kim MacAskill has turned down an award nomination from Women in Gaming. MacAskill no longer works for the developer, but was once supposed to have a credit on the upcoming Kill the Justice League. Although MacAskill has been nominated for a lifetime achievement award, she has "bowed out."
Posting on Twitter, MacAskill said she couldn't accept the award, saying that while she supports Women In Gaming, being a part of it would discredit her "moral compass." MacAskill says she doesn't want attention or sympathy, but bringing up reported events from five years ago, she wants an apology from Rocksteady.
Rocksteady and parent company Warner Bros. Interactive are sponsors of the event, leading MacAskill to write, "You can throw your name on every diversity event going. But unless you take accountability, it means nothing and I see you." She says she once penned a letter signed by 10 out of 16 women, claiming that harassment and sexism were "out of control" at Rocksteady.
MacAskill maintains that she lost her job (suddenly) and has since been offered lots of money to keep quiet. The post ends by saying internal investigations into harassment are "crooked," then concludes by saying the studio needs to "take accountability" and "stop enabling bad behaviour." In 2020, The Guardian published a scathing report that highlights allegations of harassment and sexism, even citing the letter that MacAskill mentions.
Rocksteady Responds To Sexual Harassment Claims
In response to Eurogamer, Rocksteady has firmly denied the allegations. The lengthy statement reads as follows: "Investigations found there was no evidence substantiating the allegations of this former employee who resigned in 2019. We stand against all forms of harassment and take any allegation extremely seriously. We support those who have concerns they wish to raise. We therefore took the necessary time to thoroughly investigate allegations at Rocksteady Studios with the utmost integrity.
"An external, independent law firm conducted a full and thorough investigation, including interviewing current and former employees, not only researching past allegations, but also examining the current culture of the studio. Furthermore, a Warner Bros. Discovery (then Warner Media) People Relations team, independent of the games division, diligently researched and investigated any allegations raised.
"These two separate investigations both confidently arrived at the same conclusion, that all issues raised with HR and the management of Rocksteady Studios were handled appropriately and sensitively. We believe Rocksteady is led by a strong management team and we are proud of the work they have already done, and their ongoing commitment to, ensuring the studio is an equitable and inclusive workplace, one where every employee is listened to, respected and supported. Rocksteady has been a sponsor of Women in Games in the past and continues their sponsorship to support and celebrate women working in the games industry."
In the wake of the 2020 allegations, Rocksteady delivered a similar response and said it had "dealt with issues raised." Even if the developer says it's in the right, it's clear MacAskill isn't willing to let this one lie. It doesn't seem that MacAskill wants compensation or even her name back on Kill the Justice League, but it's also unclear whether Rocksteady will give the apology she's after. It's over to MacAskill to see if she reponds.