Ex-Blizzard Employee Alleges Racial Abuse and Discrimination, "I Wanted to Die"

For many, working at Blizzard would be a dream but there's a shift going on in the gaming community in the past year with more and more developers stepping forward and painting a much darker picture at what their professional life is like behind the curtain. According to one former Blizzard employee, working there allegedly became a nightmare that eventually forced them to leave.

Jules Murillo-Cueller took to TweetLonger following Overwatch's Soldier 76 sexual orientation reveal, citing that this "illusion" of inclusion has forced him to speak up. According to him, inclusion only counts if you're not a person of colour.

In his post, he mentions that this wasn't a new issue for him - he even stated that he's reached out to seek legal action in the past with help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Murillo-Ceuller stated in his open letter that the racial abuse started back with his time supporting the Hearthstone esports circuit, where he was "the victim of racial abuse and discrimination during April-December 2016 until I was transferred to the Blizzard Esports Business Operations Team."

He first joined the Hearthstone esports team as a temporary assignment back in 2016. There, he reveals what a typical day was like - often with 2-3 AM wakeups. Despite the long hours and demanding work schedule, he mentioned that he kept "powering through" since this was a temporary position.

When he finally "proved himself" and went from a TA to full-time, he mentioned that the dynamic changed - immediately."When I was hired fulltime that’s when the mood in my team changed . . . we were no longer a unit, but two people—Drew and Gemma Barreda-Mirkovic—and me."

From there, he alleges that the mood got worse and that's when the racial abuse started, "It all changed when Gemma would joke about my sexism, or natural inclination to be sexist, due to my heritage: having been born Mexican and raised in Mexico, Gemma would experience “Mexican culture” as an exchange student . . . The assumption then became that I was just like everyone else, and that my attitudes, beliefs were that of a Mexican machista (male chauvinist). I didn’t make much of this since she said it “in jest” but this would weigh on me, and I would later confide in my Mrs."

He then said that the jokes continued so badly that he contemplated suicide, "The “jokes” regarding my “machismo” and me being Mexican, would only become more frequent, and finally culminate in the events that started my descent into literal madness. I was diagnosed with major depression and would later develop anxiety (getting weekly anxiety attacks, then panic attacks), nervous breakdowns (one of which I almost took my life), and finally suicidal thoughts (I had measured the amount of rope I would need, the knot, and the place of where I was going to do it in Christmas)."

He also told his side of the story after other members of the Blizzard team, including Gemma Barreda, accused Murillo-Cueller of being sexist. "During a heated debate over the etymology of male derived words that Gemma and Drew were having in the middle of the work day, I decided to weigh-in, since I was in the midst of completing my B.A. in English Writing from UCDenver’s online program. What would happen next would be a scene out of the twilight zone as Gemma would then single me out direct her ire towards me . . . I only posited the question, into what would you change terms like corpsman, yeoman, and other military or official terms. This was a terrible mistake as I was then called out for being sexist because I was Mexican—mind you, Gemma and I had a great relationship at the start since we spoke Spanish to each other, but she would then use Spanish to remind me of being Mexican, and therefore sexist.

"My embarrassment, however, would not end there. Kim Phan, Director of Esports, would walk into the bullpen—we had an emergency exit most people used to access that building—and Gemma would immediately stop Kim and reel her into the conversation."

From there, he alleges that a few employees banded together to accuse him of his sexist stance and when he tried to reach out an handle it, the backlash was immediate. After months of this going on, his relationship with the Hearthstone esports division became "frosty". He detailed a subsequent turn of events that eventually led to his departure from the company.

But why step forward now?

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"I write this today because the Soldier 76 announcement and subsequent tweets I did triggered me. The reason why it triggered me wasn’t the message, but who it was coming from: Blizzard Entertainment. The idea of inclusion, of representation, and “every voice matters” and “think globally” never meant that for me and other people of color I have spoken to. Because up until recently—in the last 2 years—has the community had some representation and initiatives. But are we really represented?"

You can read his full statement right here.