Yesterday, we broke a story of one former employee that came forward to paint a very dark picture of what it was like for him working at Blizzard. The "outing" of Overwatch's Soldier 76 prompted him to write a tell-all about why he was "forced" to leave due to his experiences with the company not being as inclusive as they would like fans to believe. The tale was heartwrenching as he even detailed the suicidal fallout that his experience brought with it. Now, Blizzard has responded.
Though we reached out for a statement, it was Variety who the company opted to speak through:
“While the company does not comment on individual personnel issues, we can share that having an inclusive and respectful work environment is extremely important to us. We have a policy against harassment and discrimination and take reports of inappropriate behavior very seriously. There are a number of methods for employees to come forward should they experience or observe any inappropriate behavior. All claims of alleged harassment and discrimination which are brought to our attention are investigated, and we take action where appropriate. We strive to create an inclusive and respectful work environment that reflects Blizzard’s core values in everything we do.
“Employee and workplace health is also very important, and we offer different programs and opportunities that support employees, including health and wellness programs and counseling, both in the office (often provided for free) as well as through external professional providers.”
The employee in question is Jules Murillo-Cueller and 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.
From there, he finally made the full-time job he was aiming for and the teamwork allegedly stopped. Cueller mentioned that it was a daily occurance to have his race be used as a means to ridicule him and following a conversation about mexican culture, he was deemed sexist from his co-workers. It's a long and messy tale about that interaction, which you can read about here.
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)."0comments
As for why he chose now to step forward, he mentioned "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?"
With Blizzard's response, it shows that there are always two sides to the story but the environment showcased in this former employee's retellings is hard to dismiss. You can read about his entire experience right here.