Social gaming studio Kixeye fired four employees today, after a former contract worker at the company made detailed accusations of racism and other discrimination in a lengthy blog post.
The author of the post, who went by 'Qu33riosity,' has since taken it down from his Tumblr blog. But the article made the rounds on Twitter yesterday, and Kixeye chief executive Will Harbin eventually got wind of the allegations. He took to Twitter last night to express his shock, saying, "WE TAKE [these allegations] VERY SERIOUSLY," adding that the company had begun to "aggressively investigate" them.
Kotaku posted a few specific instances of Qu33riosity's claims before he deleted the article. Here's one:
Going back to the matter at hand, Steve then proceeds to do what white men always can't help but do: "educate."
"Let me tell you, it's ok to make jokes about slavery because that's over."
Yeah, receiving that felt like a bolt of energy striking the center of my head and slicing my body in two.
"Are you a slave? Is anyone you know a slave? No, so jokes are fine because that's in the past."
Shortly after midnight ET today, Harbin posted a longer statement. He first explained he had not heard of any allegations until he saw Qu33riosity's blog post "at the same time most of you did." According to Harbin, "While it's clear that not everything in the blog post was accurate, I did discover examples of embarrassing behavior that I find inappropriate for Kixeye, or any other work environment."
Harbin "immediately terminated" the manager of the team found responsible for the allegations made by Qu33riosity, along with three other employees. "It turns out that a few bad apples weren't living up to the standards that the rest of us have set for our company," he said.
Kixeye will provide harassment training to the remaining members of the team, "given the poor example set by their manager." According to Harbin, the studio had already hired a vice president of human resources to put in place a company-wide sensitivity training program, before the allegations surfaced yesterday. Harbin said that officer has also opened up communication between management and staff, and added that Kixeye has begun doing regular surveys to gather and act on feedback from its employees.
"I am doing my best to create a company where our employees love to work, with a culture of openness and tolerance to different points of view, styles, races, gender, orientation, religion, and cultures," said Harbin.
Kixeye is also conducting an independent investigation of Qu33riosity's claims, in order to ensure the studio has "all the facts and [takes] whatever continued, appropriate action is necessary to prevent this kind of behavior from occurring again."
Kixeye is perhaps best known for an over-the-top recruitment video, starring Harbin himself, that the company released this summer.