There were several gaming companies who chose to prevent people in Russia from playing their games. Two gaming companies went the other direction, and created fundraisers to help people who are in Ukraine. Personally, I think raising money as a form of support is a good way to provide help to those in need.
The Verge reported that Fortnite raised a total of $144 million for Ukraine relief efforts in two weeks. The game raised $36 million on its first day alone.
The Fortnite Twitter account @FortniteGame tweeted: “Our deepest thanks to everyone who joined us in supporting humanitarian relief efforts for people affectedly the war in Ukraine. Together with the Fortnite community and @Xbox, we raised $144 million USD for @DirectRelief, @UNICEF, @WFP, @Refugees and @WCKitchen.”
Direct Relief has a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay. The UNICEF Twitter account’s bio reads: “As war escalates in #Ukraine, UNICEF is on the ground reaching children with water, health and education services. Here’s how you can help.” @WFP is The United Nations’ World Food Programme. @Refugees is the United Nations’ refugee agency. @WCKitchen is the World Central Kitchen. It was founded by Chef Jose Anders, who goes to the frontlines in times of crisis to provide meals to people.
Engadget reported that the Fortnite campaign aligned with the start of Fortnite’s latest season, meaning that many players were buying V-Bucks to unlock the latest Battle Pass and scoop up new in-game items. Epic and Xbox donated their cuts of gifted Battle Passes, Fortnite Crew subscriptions and gift cards redeemed during that time to relief efforts as well.
Riot Games (maker of League of Legends) also held a fundraiser to help people in Ukraine. @RiotGames tweeted: Thanks to the efforts of our amazing players, we’ve raised $5.4 million total in funds to support humanitarian efforts in Eastern Europe”.
The tweet was the start of a thread which provided further explanation. Riot Games tweeted that $1.8 million will be going to the International Medical Corps. Another $1.8 million will be going to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders. And another $1.8 million will be going to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Riot Games is the creator of League of Legends, a game nearly 30 million players log into every day. While it is possible for any online game to attract some players who are verbally abusive to other players, League of Legends has developed a reputation for attracting quite a lot of those kinds of toxic players. Riot wondered if there was a correlation between highly toxic in-game play and workplace toxicity.
Riot’s hypothesis was that if a Rioter (a description given to people who work for Riot Games) received a lot of in-game complaints, that person would have friction with workplace teammates too. Was there a correlation between in-game toxicity and real-world behavior?
Everyone who works at Riot Games plays League of Legends. As such, Riot was able to look at the preceding 12 months of gameplay of every employee. They determined that 25% of Riot employees who had been let go in the previous year were players with unusually high in-game toxicity.
Some examples of toxic behaviors include homophobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of hate speech. Among the Rioters who had been let go in the past 12 months, the most common bad in-game behaviors included passive aggression (snarky comments), the use of authoritative language and sometimes misusing their authority as a Riot employee to intimidate or threaten others.
Riot identified the 30 most toxic employees and categorized them as either someone who needed a stern warning or as someone who should leave Riot. Those who received a warning were presented with their in-game chat logs in which they were exhibiting especially bad behavior. Apparently, some of those Rioters apologized and promised to change their ways.
Riot is trying to figure out how to use what they learned about the correlation between toxic in-game behavior and workplace toxicity to help them in the hiring process. Riot asks applicants for their in-game handle during the application process and can review that person’s gameplay. They are considering using an applicant tracking system that flags toxic players so that a recruiter or hiring manager can quickly see how an applicant behaves in League of Legends.
I’ve read through some of the comment sections of articles that discussed this topic. One one hand, people feel that Riot Games has the right to refuse to hire people who have been especially toxic while playing the company’s League of Legends game. It reflects on how that person would represent the company and the game itself. Others feel that looking at an applicant’s in-game chat is too intrusive.
Riot Games, maker of League of Legends, is doing something new. It doesn’t take place inside a video game, either. Queue Dodge offers employees “cash to quit”.
New hires at Riot Games will have the ability to quit their jobs and get some money for doing so. They can take advantage of Queue Dodge anytime within their first 60 days. Those that choose to quit will be paid up to 10% of their annual salary (up to $25,000). Right now, this offer is only available for newly hired employees of Riot Games that are in North America.
It seems like a strange move. Why would a company put a potential employee through what they describe as a “rigorous interview process” and pay if they quit within the first 60 days? It sounds counterintuitive. Wouldn’t that encourage people to quit?
The answer appears to be directly connected to “the unique flavor” of their culture. In short, Riot Games wants to ensure that people stay working for them because they are a good fit, and not just for the paycheck. They want to provide a “well-lit, safe exit path” for workers who self-identify as a mismatch. I think it is meant to be an open, positive, way to end an employment situation.
I can see where Queue Dodge would give newly hired employees the financial flexibility to opt-out of working for Riot Games without having to worry about how they will pay their bills while they are looking for another job. It can take some of the stress out of being unemployed.
On the other hand, I cannot help but wonder if the existence of Queue Dodge might influence current employees to be less accepting of new hires who are a little different than themselves. The pessimist in me wonders if Queue Dodge would function as a way to pressure people to quit.