Top Ubisoft Resignations Raising Questions
The Canadian gaming industry, though a major contributor to the country’s annual GDP, isn’t without an ugly side – as evidenced by the wave of women who in the past few weeks worked up the courage to share their own personal experiences of mistreatment and sexual harassment, and of what it’s like to work for the still male-dominated industry.
This is an industry that according to a 2019 study by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada contributes $4.5 billion to Canada’s GDP each year. But its at the same time also an industry that has thrived, at least in part, as a result of incorrect assumptions made about the role of women in gaming and development.
Normalising The Not-So-Normal
Stories told by women like Montreal-based games designer Tanya X. Short, who has worked in the industry for more than a decade, are casting new light on what it feels like to literally be one of only a few women in the room.
Short remembers how she had internalised an array of feelings and experiences as being 100% normal, when in actual fact, this was far from the case. This ultimately led to Short having altered her own behavior on a subconscious level – all to allow her male colleagues to retain their own positions as the guys in charge.
Short’s is unfortunately no voice in the wilderness, with countless more women having now come forward to tell their own stories pertaining to everything from toxic workplace environments to actual full-on public allegations of sexual harassment.
Ubisoft In A Bad Space
A company that recently found itself dead-centre in the middle of the sexual harassment scandals sweeping the industry is none other than one of Canada’s largest gaming-industry employers, namely Ubisoft.
A report ran by gaming news site Kotaku early in June revealed details around an incident that allegedly involved Ubisoft Toronto co-founder Maxime Béland having choked a female employee during an incident at a work party. Some employers were apparently quick to make the incident off as a bizarre once-off type of thing, while others yet considered what had taken place one more reason for women in the employment of Ubisoft to be exceptionally wary when interacting with Béland.
Maxime Béland ultimately resigned from his position as Vice President of Editorial.
And on June 11, Yannis Mallat, former President of Ubisoft Canada, did the same, followed by a similar move by Cecile Cornet, former Global Head of Human Resources.
The message was suddenly loud and clear. There was a problem.
No Comment, Says Ubisoft
Ubisoft is – sadly – not the only gaming company experiencing a particularly challenging moment in time. The last couple of weeks saw countless employees and former employees come forward in order to tell their own personal stories of mistreatment, discriminatory behaviour, and sexual harassment.
Regarding its own current internal ructions, Ubisoft Canada has refused to issue any comments until such time as all investigations have been finalised.