In the wake of the revelations about the severity of long-term sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision-Blizzard, a number of formerly senior men who have since left the company are taking it in turns to very publicly say how completely dreadful it all is, and how very sorry they are, now that they’re no longer held to account. The latest is Diablo co-creator Chris Metzen, former senior vice president of story and franchise development, who took to Twitter.
Following Mike Morhaime’s late-night Friday apology, Metzen posted on Twitter late on Sunday evening, tweeting two images of text, explaining that it’s “later than it should have been.” He retired in 2016.
“We failed, and I’m sorry,” he begins. “To all of you at Blizzard – those of you I know and those of you whom I’ve never met – I offer you my very deepest apologies for the part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference.”
The part he played? Having the “privilege of not noticing.” Given pushback from some current and former Blizzard developers on whether or not those at the top could have truly not realized any of what was going on, it reads like A-grade level contrite self-absolution.
Metzen was well loved during his lengthy time at Blizzard, responsible for world-building some of the most popular games ever made, and his decision to leave was eventually revealed to be due to serious mental health challenges he was experiencing. Anxiety and panic attacks meant he found he was unable to continue, and at the age of 42 was able to retire to dedicate his time to his family, including a new baby.
His apology goes on to say, that having read many of Activision-Blizzard staff’s experiences, “Friends and colleagues, people I have valued and admired for years, were directly harmed because I was not present enough to ask, to listen, to hear these stories when it mattered.” After acknowledging that he has trouble reconciling his experience and that of those who have suffered, he continues, “the yawning disconnect between my perception from the top and the crushing reality many of you experienced fills me with profound shame.”
Metzen’s extended apology then goes on to go through the usual, “I have a wife and daughters,” segment of such things (‘some of my best friends are women’), before laying out some advice.
“It’s not enough just to say ‘I see you’ and ‘I hear you’ when terrible things happen to women in and out of the workplace. We have to be present enough and willing enough to ASK them what their experiences are day to day – and then do everything we can to support them with the respect, dignity, and opportunities they deserve.
“More than making the conscious choice to act this way, we must consistently and thoughtfully model this behavior to those around us, hold each other accountable (and be ready to be held to account), and listen at every stage of the game.”
Metzen appears to mean very well in his apology, but I imagine that those who were working at Activision-Blizzard during his decades-long tenure, who were loudly raising these issues at the time, might not feel it. Also, it’s not immediately clear how many of them can retire at 42 to spend more time with their families.