2020 has been one of the more disturbing years I can ever remember in my lifetime. The pandemic and the political situation in numerous countries around the world have been eye-openers for many. The Black Lives Matter movement has gone global and there are long overdue positive changes slowly starting to happen. Today Blizzard’s J. Allen Brack, issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter.
Gaming has always had toxicity at some level and it’s incredibly hard for developers to make sure their communities have a safe space to enjoy gaming. Blizzard has been learning how to handle this over the years. Not always getting it right but they are in a much better place now than they ever were. The statement from J. Allen Brack explains what they are doing to make positive changes in supporting minorities whether they be partners, employees, or simply gamers.
A message from Blizzard
Our world has a long history of racism. Humans create groups, and then create divisions between groups unlike themselves. Ironic how we need each other as social creatures, yet we developed the practice to ‘other’ humans who at first glance don’t look like what we see in the mirror.
I have made it a personal obligation to educate myself about trauma others endure, and to work to change those experiences for them. Many within Blizzard come from a place of strong purpose, with a will to do in order to help society.
Last year at BlizzCon, I made a commitment for Blizzard to do better. We pride ourselves on learning and growing, and doing something now that reflects our company and community values. I also said that our actions would matter more than our words—we have been publicly silent until now because action is the important part.
Let me be clear: Blizzard stands in solidarity with those fighting against racism, because racism is as dangerous as any pandemic for those affected. We stand with those fighting against social and institutional structures that promote inequality among people of color.
Last week, AB announced donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, the United Negro College Fund, and the Management Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) to fight systemic racial inequality. At Blizzard, we are working on initiatives for our community and our workplace.
In our games: For many years, we’ve had teams working with A.I. and machine learning to reduce toxicity and hate speech, as well as to help improve the overall gaming experience. Since January 1 this year, we’ve banned over 30,000 accounts for these reasons, as well as issued more than three million total hours of player suspensions. These penalties have notably improved our game environments: over the last two years, we’ve seen a 43% reduction in poor behavior reports, and a 59% reduction in the re-offense rate. And while this is progress, we’ve identified other places where we can use this technology and have more work to continue to do toward this effort.
In our relationships: We are also reviewing our partnerships to identify opportunities to support Black-owned and diverse businesses, and to amplify the voices of Black content creators and influencers.
Juneteenth: Today at Blizzard, we are observing Juneteenth with the goal of encouraging employees to take the time to be educated. We hosted a virtual session with a leader in our home city of Irvine, California, so employees can learn more about implicit bias, implications for law and policy, and how they can get involved in local efforts to drive change. We have also provided a list of resources to help coworkers self-educate, and shared ways to get involved in advocacy.
Ongoing: We are stronger with more diverse views and experiences. We are committed to being a more equitable workplace, including how and where we recruit, our HR practices, and employee support. We will also put an ongoing employee education program into place. This program will include more training and education (with the materials purchased from Black and minority-owned businesses), and Blizzard-wide town halls with experts on allyship, advocacy, and racism.
All of this work will continue to make Blizzard better, and play some small part in a larger, positive shift.
To our Black community, colleagues, and partners, Blizzard stands with you.
Black lives matter, today and always.
– J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment